Browsing: Cusco

Cusco 0

By Richard Nisbet

Cusco Tales

Peru: Introduction to Cusco Tales An introduction to mostly true stories by a gringo who has had an ongoing love affair with the town for 28 years. Laced throughout with interesting and little-known tidbits of Inca history, as well as views of contemporary and ancient Cusco culture.

Cusco is not just a town; it is a place of God and man-made beauty. It is a crossroads, an experience. It is even a time machine of sorts. If you don’t know Cusco, you’re missing something. There’s no other place like it.

Ask anyone who’s been there. It is the oldest inhabited city in the Western Hemisphere. They now call it “The archaeological capital of America.” In Inca times they called Cusco “The Navel of the World.”

Cusco 0

00Paying homage to the sun in Peru
The emperor addresses his people in triumph as Inti Raymi draws to an end.

Inti Raymi – the annual Festival of the Sun – is a spectacular way of saying Happy New Year

Jeremy Ferguson
Special to the Star

Every June 24, Peru’s pre-Columbian past springs to life for Inti Raymi, Inca Festival of the Sun. It’s the most spectacular historical pageant in South America. Ask Bill Gates or actress Cameron Diaz, who were among last year’s throng of international guests.

Inti Raymi recreates the celebration of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, the beginning of the Sun God’s new cycle: Happy Inca New Year.

Cusco 0

By Rob McFarland

Cusco: Into thin air I’ve never been so apprehensive about getting off a plane. After spending most of the flight from Lima to Cusco reading about symptoms of altitude sickness, I am convinced I’m going to faint the second the door is opened.

I venture nervously out and take my first breath of oxygen-starved Cusco air. Then a second. And a third. The relief is palpable. I’m going to survive.

Even if you don’t share my morbid addiction to the Lonely Planet’s environmental hazards section, the spectacular descent through cloud-shrouded mountains into Cusco will leave you in little doubt that you’re now at a serious altitude – 3326m above sea level.

Cusco 0

00Amazing agricultural legacy in the Sacred Valley of Peru
Sacred Valley

The Inca ruins defy description. Of Peru’s 30 million inhabitants, there is only one remote community, Queros, where 300 inhabitants remain of pure Inca blood. The rest of the population is now mostly Mestizo, which describes those with part Inca and part Spanish blood. While the Spanish conquistadors claimed military victory, it was actually diseases like smallpox and yellow fever introduced from Europe which weakened and destroyed the 17 million original Incas who dominated a vast territory stretching from Central America to Chile for 500 years from 1100 to 1600 AD.

Cusco 0

By Richard Nisbet

A Ridge to the Past of Cuzco, Peru I first came to Peru in 1975. I was brought here by a mystery. How could people who were supposedly primitive, Bronze-age people…. have made walls that look like this?
Later I read Thor Heyerdahl’s books on Easter Island and discovered that there was one remaining wall (and evidence of others that had fallen into the ocean) like those in and around Cusco.   And there were other commonalities between Easter Island and the Andean highlands. They both had the totora reed, the bottle gourd and the sweet potato.

Cusco 0

Kelly Hearn
National Geographic News

Ruins in Peru Ruins recently discovered in southern Peru could be the ancient "lost city" of Paititi, according to claims that are drawing serious but cautious response from experts.

The presumptive lost city, described in written records as a stone settlement adorned with gold statues, has long been a grail for explorers—as well as a lure for local tourism businesses.

A commonly cited legend claims that Paititi was built by the Inca hero Inkarri, who founded the city of Cusco before retreating into the jungle after Spanish conquerors arrived.

Cusco 0

Courtesy of


In Search of the Snow Star, Cuzco, Peru

Flags representing Peru and the Tahuantinsuyo flutter at the head of hordes of pilgrims who have flocked from the Cuzco highlands to the Sinakara Valley near Mount Ausangate, to take part in one of the largest religious festivals in South America: the Festival of the Lord of Qoyllur Rit’i or the Snowstar.

We press on at dawn. The track rises and falls, a bone-jarring hike that has us sweating despite temperatures hovering below 5°C. The trail runs for a stiff 8 km, four hours of exhausting trudging from the village of Mahuayani to Qolquepunco, near Mount Ausangate.

It is the land of soaring peaks, biting winds and glacial highland plains dotted with the odd clump of spiky ichu grass. The trail winds past wayside crosses and stone cairns, until we reach the natural basin of Sinakara, at 4,800 meters. Our hearts are pounding. Time for one last sip of coca tea, and it’s up to the top.

Cusco 0

Courtesy of


Perched on top of an imposing plateau in the province of La Convención, lie the remains of a priceless and strategic stone citadel (*).

Choquequirao lies at an altitude of over 3,000 meters, on top of a plateau which looks out at Mount Salcantay. Just getting to this archaeological complex is an adventure in itself which demands physical fitness and the right gear. The diversity of climates throughout the hike and the jagged terrain along the way make it a bruising, although rewarding experience.

As Choquequirao gets few visitors, travelers can experience the feeling of visiting this remote and enigmatic spot where time seems to have stopped.

Cusco 0

Text and Photos by Natasha Scripture

It was an honor I did not expect. I was prepared to head east sola, donning my scruffy, lived-through Patagonia, prepared for the worst, expecting nothing less than an Awakening. I was geared up to be yet another “gringa” fending for herself, lost amidst a sea of charged tourists, all with the unmistakable glint of Machu Picchu in our eyes.

But it was not like that. Fate intervened and fortuitously altered my plans to travel alone to the ancient Inca city for my thirtieth birthday. One month after moving to Lima to work for the World Bank, I was invited to Cuzco, and its fabulous environs, by a few of my wonderful new Peruvian colleagues over Peru’s Fiestas Patrias.

The Sacred Energy of Sacred Valley, Peru This is the honor I am referring to. As humorous as it sounds, I was thrilled that I would be visiting one of the recently acclaimed Seven Wonders of the World with “real Peruanos.” How many times have I visited grand sites and perceived them only through tourists’ eyes? I was being given the experience to travel with natives and absorb every marvel of Machu Pichu through their eyes, to listen to their perspectives, and perhaps be indulged with tasty little insider secrets and myths…

  In our party, there were four Peruvians, one American (me) and the token Brazilian. We landed in the elevated Andean city of Cuzco early Friday morning, with every intention of taking it easy in order to adjust to the altitude – which sits at over 3,000 meters (around 11,000 feet). Cuzco, once the heart of the Inca Empire or Tawantinsuyu, is a colorful city of about 300,000 inhabitants, home to some of Peru’s most formidable archeological sites. It is a multilingual center of art, culture and cuisine, where you can wander through the cobble-stoned streets for hours, pretending to be lost in a colonial fantasy world; where languages from all of the world fuse into a sort of all-encompassing vibrating hum, including Quechua, formerly the official language of the Inca Empire, still spoken by over 8 million people in South America. The crisp, sweet air, and the surrounding Andean peaks, can inspire a sense of wanderlust in anyone.

Cusco 0 faith peaks

Peru has always been a very spiritual place, from all of its previous civilizations right up until today. The Incas, Moche and other civilizations left many constructions used for religious rituals, and many religious practices from jungle tribes are still being performed up until this day. Of course, the most widespread religion in Peru today is Catholicism, which the Spanish conquerors imposed on its inhabitants when they arrived centuries ago.

These ancient and more recently adopted religions join forces and celebrate their beliefs in harmony during the festival of Qoyllur Riti, which takes place in the first 2 weeks of June every year in the Qoyllur Riti Sanctuary, 170 kms from Cusco.

Inhabitants of the Andes have always worshipped certain mountains they considered deities, known as Apus, and the Qolquepunco, the mountain that finds itself guarding over the sanctuary of Qoyllur Riti, is one of those deities. But a few hundred years ago, this place also became sacred for the Catholic faith, when the image of Jesus appeared before a young boy, and then imprinted itself on a stone found in the sanctuary. From then on, each year many thousands of people make the pilgrimage to the sanctuary, paying homage to the Señor of Qoyllur Riti (the Lord of Qoyllur Riti) with a variety of dances, rituals and offerings.