Hello my name is Caro I am 24 years old and a student from Germany. I study Cruise and Tourism Management and I will be doing an internship at JOEX for 6 months during this time I will be travelling through Peru and post about my experiences for you. That way it is easier for you to know what to consider and expect while travelling through Peru. If you have any further questions I am happy to answer them.
My first trip I did here was a city tour through Cusco. The city tour starts at the main colonial square which is called Plaza des Armas at 12:40 pm. There is a little office next to the Cathedral, where the tour starts and where you can buy your ticket. The entrance fee is 25 Sol for adults and 13,50 Sol for students and children.
Catedral Basílica de la Virgen de la Asunción
First of all some important requirements you should consider before you visit the cathedral it is not allowed to take pictures or videos, also it is not allowed to touch the artworks and since it is a holy place you should dress properly (long sleeves and pants recommended) and behave respectfully. The doors of the cathedral are open to genuine worshippers between 6am and 10am. UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cathedral is one of the city’s greatest repositories of colonial art, it has a rectangular floor design and has three large doors out of wood. The setting of the cathedral persists out of 14 cruciform pillars carved from Andesite stone to support 24 ribbed, arched or star shaped ceilings. Many stones mostly used in the construction for the outer walls where taked from the famous and closeby Inca site called Sacsayhuamán. The principle altar which dominates the center of the cathedral is embossed in silver and consecrated to the Lady of Assumption. Also very beautiful and worth seeing are the from pure cedar wood crafted choir stalls.The cathedral has 14 side chapels which house various artworks, paintings, alters and statues of saints and virgins.
You will find one of the most famous paintings here, which is called “ The Last Supper”, painted by Cusco Master – Marcos Zapata, the painting is very unique and special since you will find a guinea pig in it, but your tour guide will tell you the story behind it and you will be amazed. Also you definitely have to look for the oldest surviving painting in Cusco, showing the entire city during the great earthquake of 1650. The inhabitants can be seen parading around the plaza with a crucifix, praying for the earthquake to stop, which it miraculously did. This precious crucifix is called “El Señor de los Temblores” (The Lord of the Earthquakes). Every year on Holy Monday, the Señor is taken out on parade and his devotees throw ñucchu flowers at him – these resemble blood and are a symbol for the wounds of crucifixion. As you can tell by the quick insight I gave you, this cathedral holds many stories and secrets within which your tourguide will show and explain to you in about 40 minutes. For me it was the perfect start I learned so much about the history of Peru, their beliefs and the cathedral itself is just breathtaking and colossal.
Qorikancha – the temple of the sun
After you finished your tour through the cathedral you will have a 5 minute walk to Qorikancha («Qori» means gold ; «Kancha» means an enclosed space, bounded by walls which combined can be translated into «place that has gold» ). Qorikancha was the most important temple in the Inca Empire. The entrance fee is 15 Sol for adults and 10 Sol for students and children.
Here you will learn about the Inca style in Architecture which is incredible to me. Your tour guide will explain you the different techniques which were used to build those «earthquakesecure» how they call it walls. There are three different techniques they used instead of cement : the female ; male technique, the lego technique or the one where they used gold and silver rings to connect the rocks. It´s incredible to see how precisely and accurate they worked, no rock looks the same. It remained me speechless to see this. After that you will continue the tour outside into the Solar Garden your tour guide will give you about 20 minutes to explore this wonderful garden, to take pictures and to use the bathroom an important fact about bathrooms always bring your own tissues in Peru they do not necessarily provide that – true to the motto better safe than sorry right. The gardens were a great reservoir of offerings of all subject nations and Confederate brought to the Sun God, the offerings consisted of representations of flora and fauna. Also you will find the beautiful cantua flower there, which is typical for Peru and you can take incredible pictures from here with the beautiful mountain landscape of Cusco in the background
Next stop are the famous Inca ruins «Saqsayhuaman», to get there you will take a bus from Cusco, it will take about 20-25 minutes to get there. But since you will drive uphill during the busride and therewith gain in altitude your touroperator will stop at a little store with you to buy some drinks and food. You should definitely bring enough water with you and what helped me were sweets called «chicha morada», you can purchase all of this very cheap. Remeber to walk slowly and make little breaks. Give your body time to adapt to the new environment and stay hydrated.
Once you arrive at Saqsayhuaman you have to buy a ticket (boleto turistico del cusco). For the ticket you have two options either you can buy a partial ticket for 70 Sol which is valid for one day or you can buy a general ticket for 130 Sol, which is valid for 10 days and enables you to see 14 beautiful sights of Peru. Then you continue to the ruins and your tourguide will provide you with facts and stories about the ruins. Your tourguide will show you signs in the rocks for example the paw of a Puma, the Puma counts to the 3 sacred animals of the Incas. Again you will learn a lot about the architecture of the Incas, I’m sure you will be amazed. After the explanantions and introductions you will have about 20 minutes to explore the ruins for yourself and take pictures, then you will meet your group and the tourguide back at the bus to continue your city tour. Remember to bring warm clothes, since you will be very high up it will be windy and chilly.
Q’enqo – temple of mother earth
It will take you about 5 minutes by bus to get from Saqsayhuaman to Q’enqo. This site which is at 3,600 meters above sea level has some of the best examples of undisturbed Incan carving in the world. The site persists out of four different parts, but the most popular one is Q’engo Grande, which was used as an astronomical observatory and holy site.
Q’engo Grande is a large limestone outcrop with two small knobs that show a shadow pattern at the summer solstice in June. Also you will find carvings in the limestones of caves, altars and hollows that have been used to move water. Q’engo Grande was used as a stopping point on a pilgrimage of religious importance during the Inca period, and mummification took place onsite as well. Your tourguide will invite you to touch the rock on the ground compared to the rock on the ceiling and you will feel different temperatures. Aswell as he will show you a hole in the cave which was used back in the days to get underground through a labyrinth to the ruins Saqsayhuaman.
Tambomachay – the bath of the Inca
A really special and holy place, it will take you about 20-25 by bus to get there it is the original starting point of the famous inca trail to Machu Picchu. Our tourguide told us that according to an old legend, if you drink the water from the holy spring you will bear twins or remain forever young and beautfiul, but I think you will just get sick, but it is up to you if you feel like doing it go for it.
Local clothing business
Your last stop on your city tour through Cusco is a visit in a local store with traditional clothes, nice souvenirs to bring back home for your loved ones or for yourself. In case you did not bring warm enough clothes, this is the place where you can get yourself set up with some nice and cozy alpaca sweatshirts and jackets, but don’t forget to bargain
After that around 6 -7 pm you will be dropped of back at the main colonial square in Cusco. From there you are free to do whatever you like either grab a beer in one of the nice pubs and bars. Get a traditional dinner in one of the restaurants and look at the amazing pics you took or go home after a long day full with amazing sights and experiences and get some rest for the next adventure, which Cusco has plenty to offer.