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Cuzco, Peru

Area Code 084, US$1 = 3.5 soles, jan 10, 2000

Even as an eight year old, I had heard of this town and the Macchu Picchu
ruins that neighboured it on the map. Once the capital of the Inka Empire,
the ancient walls that line the narrow streets now hold the foundation of
thriving tourist mecca. No less than a week can me spent in Cuzco, and no
less than a life time in the ruins nearby.

There is a huge choice of accommodation in Cuzco, so naturally bargaining is expected. The hotels on the main Plaza de Armas, are no different to others in nearby streets yet charge $10 US more, so why bother. It can get
extremely cold at night, so it is best to stay in hostels with 24 hour hot
water, and thick blankets.

HOSTAL ROYAL QOSCO is a friendly place one minute from the main square on Huaynaplata. Although basic and only has hot water from 6.00am - 10.00am it is very popular with budget travellers. A single room with shared bath is $4.50 US, a double $9 US and a triple $12.50 US. It has a laundry service, book exchange, and very good tourist office with air, bus and tour tickets. Also owned by the hostal is the sunset cafe directly above it, which shows two videos a night.

Nearby is the large HOSTAL CACERES at Plateros 368. It is a large colonial building with a huge courtyard. A single/double with shared bath is $4.50 US / $8.50. Downstairs is a good travel agent and event an art gallery.

A very friendly place is the HOSTAL ADOMAR on Portal Mantas 128 T
(51)-84-232249. It is an old colonial building with a great courtyard, piano
and cable television viewing area. Prices start at $8 US for a single room,
with shared bath, including breakfast. Doubles are $15 US. There is 24 hour
hot water, and book exchange. Breakfast is included.

Just up the street from the HOSTAL ADOMOR is the HOSPEDAJE SAMBLENO, at 114 Carmen Atto. It is a popular place with travellers, that only has 10 rooms. A single will cost $4.50 US, double $9, all with own bath. They do the fastest laundry service in town, costing 60 cents US a kilogram and taking just 2 hours.

The cheapest place in town, is the HOSTAL RESIDENCIAL ESPADEROS in between Plaza De Armas and Plaza Regocijo, the perfect location. Although only a very basic type of Accommodation is offered, a single with shared bath will cost just $3 US, a double $5 US, triple $8 US and quad $11. It can get a little noisy at night time because it is next to the Kamikaze nightclub.

Eating Out:-
The best place to eat out (and cheapest) is the market, down Santa Clara. The Mercado Central has fresh and clean food at remarkably cheap prices. 60 cents US can buy a potato soup, chicken curry with rice and a fruit juice. I ate there for a week, and not once did I see a tourist eating there, which is just ridiculous considering the restaurants (which charge around $5 US) get their ingredients from these people. The vendors are very friendly, and were amused at my very poor Spanish.

Throughout the town are restaurants which display special value meal menus on their windows. These are good value and should be used, instead of the normal prices at other restaurants. CHEZ MAGGY at Plateros 339, has good portions of reasonable food on its value meal menus. For example, $2 will buy you the simple menu which is asparagus soup, spaghetti , bread and fruit juice. There are other restaurants on this street which offer similar value meal menus.

A number of chicken bars line the town of Cuzco, all with reasonable prices. On MANTAS is an especially nice chicken bar which serves 1/4 chicken, chips and salad bar for $2US. Take aways are very popular for the locals who eat it in the square.

Around town are ladies who sell avocado and cheese rolls for 15 cents US.
These are a good and healthy option, which is a very cheap alternative to

Night Time-
Cuzco has an incredible night life with numerous places staying open until the sun rises. There is a very heavy police presence late at night, which dispels the rumours that Cuzco can be dangerous at this time.

Probably the most popular place in town is the MAMA AFRICA PUB just of the plaza. It is one of the few places where both the locals and gringos share a beer or two. There are four bars, and a restaurant to keep you occupied while waiting for the tradition band to start. There is a big dance floor which is full when the management start playing classic 80īs tunes, like Men At Works 'Land down Under' (the Aussies go crazy).

Across the road is Kamikaze, a huge and incredibly designed night club which is very popular with the locals. As soon as you enter the door, you are confronted with a winding staircase that leads to a 'chill out' room with a small bar. Turn right to a dance floor, head straight past 12 candle light tables facing a stage where locals play their own acoustic tunes, then turn left into another chill out room with an adjoining balcony that can hold over twenty people.

If you are a little bit homesick head for the Irish pub PADDY FLAHERTY`S on Calle Triunto 124, next to the Cathedral. Perfectly positioned this place is popular with gringos, especially Aussies. It can get a bit rowdy at night (there was a fight when I was there), and the locals tend to stay way clear. However if you are in the mood for a guinness like I was, and are willing to pay $3.50 for it, then is a good place to mingle.

The CROSS KEYS PUB on the square is always full on both locals and gringos. It is a rustic wooden type of place that serves nice food, has two pool tables upstairs, cable television, and a cocktail happy hour where everything drink is half price. This place is known for making the best Macchu Picchu (three coloured drink) in town.

A rather new place, is the very relaxing LOS PERROS COUCH BAR on Tecsecocho. As the name suggests it is a great meeting place filled with comfortable couches. Although the food is rather pricey ($2.50 for rolls), the espresso coffee and english magazines make it a good pre-party establishment.

PUB UKUKUS on Plateros is extremely popular with travellers as it shows pirate films, which are still showing on cinema screens. They play two at 4.00pm and 7.00pm and a free (although buying a drink from the bar is expected). Get there early for a seat. After the films the place turns into a night club, but there are better options nearby.

Things to Do:-
There is a huge amount to see in Cuzco, so the best option is to buy a 'Cuzco visitor pass' for $10 US which gives entry to the major Cathedrals (Santo Domingo, Santa Catilina, etc), Museums (Museo de Arte Religioso, Museo de Historia Regional) and inca sites outside town such as Pisac and Tambo Machay. It is then best to go on a guided tour (14.30-18.00)to take you to all these places for around $4 US. Passes and guided tours can be purchased from any travel agents on the plaza.

No where on Earth is there a town so close to the most amazing historical, natural and archeological sites in the world. There are many travel agencies around town who can organise such trips yet travellers seem to trust 'Incaīs World Peru' (121 Plaze de Armas),'Tour Andes SRL' (HOSTAL ROYAL QUSCO), 'Silver Tour' (Plateros 30) and 'SAS Jungle and Travel Treks' (Plaza de Armas) as the best in Cuzco.

A day trip to Sacred Valley which holds the Pisac-Market ruins, Urubamba, Ollantaytambo and Chinchero leave Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at 8.30-18.00, and is very popular. Tickets cost $5.50 US for students and $8 for others.

Of course the most popular tourist destination from Cuzco and most popular on the continent, is the spectacular Machu Picchu. Travel agents offer a day trip with the tourist train, bus to site, entrance fee, lunch and guide for an astronomical $120 US. But by all means do not do this. It is much better to catch the local train for just $4.50 each way (the tourist train is $45 each way!). However be sure to ask for an aisle seat as the local train is unbelievable cramped. Trains leave Cuzco at 6.40 and return at 21.00 (four hour trip). The view coming in tho Cuzco at night is very memorable. A bus from the train station costs $9 US then it is $5 US to enter the ruins. So with a bit of lunch, the day should cost $26 US, 75% less than the travel agencies prices. Allot of out dated guide books suggest you get off at Aguas Calientes and stay there for the night, but in recent years the actual Machu Picchu train station (Puente Ruinas) has developed some accommodation so this is no longer necessary.

A great idea is to take a four day trek along the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. I did this, and although is quite tiring, it is something I will remember for the rest of my life. $75 US ($65 US for students) includes local transportation, entrance fees to Inca trail and Machu Picchu, an English speaking guide, all meals, tent and mat, cook and porter (that carries only tent and food). Be sure to take a rain coat as it continuously rained, and I lost 3 kilograms.

River rafting is also very popular around the dry season from April to September. A 3 day trip rafting down the Apurimac river costs $120 US, including bus, meals tents and mats. A simpler but just as good day trip to Wilcamayu River is $25 US.

If trekking to the ruins doesn't interest you the why not horse ride. For just $12 US a day trip, riding horses to the archeological ruins around Cuzco can be organised.

Where is it?
Cuzco is south eastern Peru, and if heading from Bolivia is connected by rail to Puno ($23 US first class / $18 US second class), which takes 10 hours but the scenery is spectacular. Buses can also be taken to either Puno ($11 US) or Copacabana ($15 US) in Bolivia. Planes to La Paz start at $114 US with Aero Continente airlines.

From Lima planes start at $44 US flying Aero Continente airlines plus $5 US departure tax. This is easily the best option as there are no train lines, and a bus ($25 US) takes twenty hours, where as the plane takes just one.

Useful Information?
Cuzco has turned into a thriving tourist machine in recent years so banks, internet cafes, cambios, pharmacies are littered around the town, although most are around Plaze de Armas. The main Entel is on Del Medio where calls cost $1.75 per minute to the US and Europe, and $2.25 US per minute to Asia and Australia. However if you think this is to expensive (which it is) there is now an invention called NETPHONE whereby an internet cafe will hook up their modem to enable calls to any country for .50 cents per minute. The connection is sometimes erratic but saying a simple hello could not be cheaper.

Weather(Jan 10,2000)
It rains terribly at night and the temperature drops considerably, but in
the day it is pleasantly war often reaching 20 degrees.

Emergency numbers American Express: 001-800-860-2908