Cuzco is located in the middle of the Andes at 3400 masl in the southern part of Peru between the Salkantay (6271m) and Ausangate (6371m) snow mountains which are the highest of Cusco region; it is considered sacred city because it was the capital of the Inca Empire, it was the government center of the four big administrative regions named Tahuantinsuyo. This fabulous empire extended to a great part of what today are Ecuador, Colombia, Perú, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile. The Inca Empire development from XII to XVI century was a very well structured society. It stands out for having a great knowledge in architecture, hydraulic engineering, medicine and agriculture; the evidence we still can see inthe streetsof Cusco, the temple of Sacsayhuaman, and Machu Picchu, as well along the Inca trail.
The population in Cusco city by the beginning of the XXI century is projected to be 300,000 inhabitants. The annual growth rate is approximately 4%. In 1821 after 3 centuries of Spanish colonial administration, this city had about 40,000 people. In the time of the Tawantinsuyo’s apogee; it should had between 300 to 350 thousands of inhabitants of which 80% are catholic and the 20% belongs to different religioussects.
The altitude of Cusco is 3,400 meters above sea level (11,150 feet). Some persons not used to the high altitude get problems as a consequence of the oxygen scarcity. It’s necessary to be one day at least in city before to make trekking. The latitude is 13° 30′ 45″ it indicates that we should have a tropical or equatorial weather, but it is not like that. Sometimes Cusco is cooler because of its high altitude. The Longitude is 71° 58′ 33″. We are 5 hours later than the Greenwich Mean Time.
Cusco is relatively cool. The annual average in the city is between 10.3° to 11.3° Celsius (50.54° to 52.34° Fahrenheit). Over here there is some uniformity in temperature between summer and winter. Normally it is somewhat cold at nighttime and during the first hours in the early morning while that at midday temperature increases considerably. During the early mornings in June and July temperature frequently drops to 5° and 7°C below zero (23° and 19.4°F). There are just 2 well-defined seasons: a dry season and another rainy one. The dry season is from May to October and the rainy season from November to April.
Expected Weather in Cusco and on the Inca trail
In Cusco dry season starts in April to October, the days are usually sunny and hot but temperatures drop abruptly after 5-6 pm until 7- am. Weather is very changeable from November to March and heavy rains are expected being the wettest month December to March although is not as cold as it is in the dry season.
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
Max º C 19º 19º 19º 20º 20º 20º 19º 20º 20º 21º 21º 21º
Min º C 7º 7º 6º 5º 3º -0º -0º +2º 4º 6º 7º 8º
Cusco Tourist Ticket (Boleto Turistico).- This visitors ticket costs 130 soles approximately US$45 (half price for students) and is valid for 10 days. The full Cusco Tourist Ticket ticket allows you entry to 15 sites These sites which are part of the City tour are Sacsayhuaman / Qenko/Puca Pucara/Tambo Machay and these sites which are visited in the Sacred Valley tour are Pisac/Ollantaytambo/Chinchero plus other sites in Cusco such as Religious Art Museum / Church of San Blas / Regional History Museum
This ticket does not include: Entrance to Koricancha (or Qorikancha) 10 soles Entrance to Cathedral 25 soles the visit of the Cathedral is optional as many people prefer not to visit now that it is more expensive. Cusco Tourist Ticket also includes the admission to the Cusco folk dances and music at Cusco Art Center in the 3rd block of Sol Avenue, presentation every night from 7:00 pm
Food and Drink
The hot and spicy nature of Peruvian food, created by ají and ajo (hot pepper and garlic), has become celebrated at home and abroad. Peruvians enjoy a wide variety of vegetables; there are over 2,000 kinds of indigenous and cultivated potatoes alone. Table service is the norm in hotels and restaurants and many also offer buffet-type lunches.
- Ceviche (uncooked fish marinated in lemon or lime juice and hot chilli pepper).
- Chupe de camarones (chowder-type soup made with shrimps, milk, eggs, potatoes and peppers).
- Causa relleña (potato cakes with chicken in the centre, but also cooked with avocado or crabmeat).
- Tamales (boiled corn dumplings filled with meat and wrapped in a banana leaf).
- Mazamorra morada (purple maize and sweet potato starch jelly cooked with lemons, dried fruits, cinnamon and cloves).
- National drinks:
- Pisco sour (bittersweet cocktail made from a potent grape brandy).
- Other pisco-based drinks are algarrobina (pisco and carob syrup), chilcano (pisco and ginger ale) and capitán (pisco and vermouth).
- Chicha de jora (fermented corn juice) and chicha morada (non-alcoholic purple corn juice) are popular drinks dating from Inca times.
Tipping: Service charges of 10% are added to bills. Additional tips of 5-10% are expected in better restaurants, while rounding up the bill or adding a few Soles is appreciated in small restaurants.