Cusco was the capital of the Inca empire, the greatest that South America has ever had, spanning almost all along the continent.
In my opinion. the most beautiful city to visit in Peru, with an authentic colonial charm and among the best sightseeings of the country.
Cusco Sacred Valley
The Sacred Valley extend from the outskirt of Cusco city to Machu Picchu town (Agua Calientes), and it is recommended as first stop after landing in Cusco: that’s because it is at a lower altitude than Cusco and it will help you with acclimatization.
Among the top sights, I recommend the Salinas de Maras: they are ancient salt ponds on the side of the mountain, dated to inca civilization, and used to extract salts. The view is nice, you can into account 1 hour or less to visit them.
Another stop, straight from a documentary, is the archeological site of Moray: it was used for cultivating crops at a controlled humidity and temperature, using circular depressions. An architectural wonder of Incas, you can read more here
Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World
One of the most famous sites in the world and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, there is not much to add about this Inca hidden city.
I visited this site on August (the busiest month of the year), where you can expect HUGE crowds, so just a few tips to share:
- buy your tickets 6 months before to be sure
- you can also choose (and buy the specific ticket in advance) to hike Mountain Picchu or Hyena Picchu, which is the high mountain that you see in all the photos behind the city. Mountain hike is medium-hard, Hyena is very hard and steep. Do it only if you are a fan of hiking, from a photography point of view I didn’t find it worthy (I did mountain Picchu)
- if you wanna see sunrise, get in line for the bus at 4.40 am, to be among the first to enter the site: the sun will light the city at around 7am anyway
Rainbow Mountains of Palcoyo
Not many knows that Cusco has two rainbow mountains, part of the same group: the most famous Vinicunca (where 99% of instagram shots come from) and the much lesser known Palcoyo.
I have chosen Palcoyo over Vinicunca for many reasons:
- the trekking in Palcoyo is a super easy less-than-one-hour walk, that you enjoy at no hurry, versus the over three hours of Vinicunca
- Vinicunca is OVER-CROWDED, while in Palcoyo it was just us two and maybe 5 more people
- at the same price, Palcoyo is a private tour in a car, leaving Cusco at 6.30. Vinicunca a packed bust leaving at 5.00 am
While flying with the drone, the view is spectacular: I have also spotted a group of lamas crossing the colorful peaks
What you see in this shots is what you actually get in this landscape.