CUSCO

No prob llama.

Cusco travel guide

Cusco is the former capital city of the Incas and it's the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Americas.

Cusco is on Peru Time (PET). It’s GMT -5 hours, meaning that it’s 1 hour ahead of New York and 6 hours ahead of London. Without calculating for daylight savings.

US Citizens will need: 

  • A passport with validity of at least six months upon entry. 
  • All U.S. citizens who do not also hold Peruvian citizenship must present a valid U.S. passport to enter and leave Peru. 
  • U.S. citizens do not need a Peruvian visa for a tourist or business stay of 183 days or less. 

Visa not required for: 

Citizens of the United States, Canada and Mexico. Citizens of most Central American countries (excluding Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic). Citizens of all South American countries. Citizens of all countries within the European Union and Switzerland. Citizens of South Africa. Citizens of Brunei, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Citizens of Australia and New Zealand

For more detailed info, check out Peru Travel.

Landing in Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ), you’ll be situated 3.1 kilometers from Cusco city center. Here are a few ways to get into the city:

Airport Taxi: Best Option

  • The official airport taxi company is called Llama Taxis. 
  • The price of a taxi ride from the airport to the city center is around 35 Soles ($12.00 USD) depending on your location. 
  • Llamas Taxis are a safer bet than the unofficial airport taxis that park around the airport. 

Bus:

  • CUZ doesn’t have an official airport bus but there are local buses called combis that depart near the airport. 
  • The buses leave from the Pesca Petrol Station nearby. A ride to Cusco city center is around 0.60 soles ( $1.70 USD).

There is no metro currently in place in Cusco. Here are a few things you should know about the other ways of getting around in Cusco. 

  • Bus/Combis: Buses and combis are the most inexpensive way to get around Cusco- though they can get pretty crowded and are often targeted by pickpockets. 
  • Taxi: To be safe only take authorized taxis which have company signs on the top of the car and numbers on the side of it. The cost of the taxi depends on the distance of the journey.
  • Uber: Uber is also currently allowed in Cusco and is considered a relatively inexpensive form of transport in the region.

Cusco is considered a safe town but it requires a few safety precautions to have a safe and enjoyable visit. Theft and scams are common in the country so it’s important to be vigilant and wary of your surroundings.

The emergency number in Peru is 105.

Safety tips:

  • Don’t leave valuable possessions in your back pockets.
  • Don’t bring valuables with you.
  • Be vigilant in bustling, crowded places.
  • Avoid going anywhere remote alone.
  • Ask your hotel or host what mode of transport they advise.

Safety Tips for the Night-Owls:

  • Try to avoid taxis at night as taxi scams are quite common.
  • Travel in groups- especially if you are a solo female traveler.
  • Cusco is considered safe till about 10:00pm so if you want to be on the cautious side try not to stay out much later than 10:00pm.

The U.S. State Department has safety guidelines for most countries, if you would like their information click on the link: U.S. Gov Travel

Peru is often understood to have two seasons, from December to March (‘summer’) they experience a rainy/wet season. And from May to September (‘winter’) they have a dry season. Cusco can be chilly at night so it’s important to bring some warmer clothes for the evenings. 

  • December, January, February (Summer): Cooler and rainy.
  • March, April, May (Autumn): BEST TIME TO VISIT (slightly cooler/rainier but less busy than June, July, and August)  
  • June, July, August (Winter): BEST TIME TO VISIT 
  • September, October, November (Spring): Warm and dry. 

Spanish is one of the official languages of Peru, with Quechua and Aymara being the other two official languages. However, Spanish is the most widely spoken language in Peru. 

Here’s a few basic words and phrases:

Hello: Hola

Thank you: Gracias

You’re welcome: De nada

Excuse me: Perdóneme

I’m sorry: Lo siento

Please: Por favor

Good morning: Buenos días

Goodnight: Buenas noches

My name is…: Me llamo…

Check, please: La cuenta por favor

I don’t understand: No entiendo

Do you speak English?: ¿Hablas inglés?

Where is…?: ¿Dónde está…?

Call the police: Llama la policía

Peru is a country with a rich history and culture. Appropriate etiquette can guide you through the interesting and unique culture in Peru. These tips are helpful to avoiding any misunderstandings with locals.

Social settings:

  • Politics is a tense topic in Peru to do Peru’s corrupt political history. It is best to avoid the topic of politics with the locals. 
  • It is important to express respect to the natives or Amerindians of Peru – do not refer to them as indios – which is a derogatory term. 
  • Peruvians shake hands when meeting friends and strangers while the native populations stay away from those interactions. 
  • Using your index finger to beckon someone is considered rude. 

Wine and Dine:

  • When entering a Peruvian home always use a proper greeting – such as buenas noches. 
  • Punctuality isn’t a large part of Peruvian culture it is expected for people to be late. 
  • Adventure gear is considered appropriate attire when walking around Peru but not in some restaurants.

Peru’s unit of currency is the Peru Sol (Nuevos Soles (PEN S/). Approximately PEN S/ 3.39 equates to USD $1.

Exchanging money is best done at the airports in Peru. It is recommended to not exchange money at ATMs on the streets.

Tipping! Tip is often not included on bills in Peru so tipping is seen as a respectable and welcomed practiced for travelers.

Peru’s electricity outlets are 220 volts with 60 cycle electricity. Peruvian plugs are typically 2 pronged and flat – which are compatible with U.S type plugs. While some plugs are two pronged and rounded.

Your converter may look like this:

Image result for peru electrical plug

Drinking water straight from the faucet is not safe to do Peru. Travelers are also recommended to not brush their teeth with the tap water. Either purchasing bottled water or boiling the water is the best option. 

Here’s how to get a SIM card in Peru:

  • Make sure your phone is unlocked. 
  • Claro and Movistar are the two most popular carriers on the market with the most extensive networks. 
  • Pick up your SIM cards at the airport or at a Claro or Movistar store. 
  • Peruvian SIM cards usually cost approximately S/.15 (about $5). 
  • The cost of making and receiving calls will vary depending on the carrier.

Uber is currently allowed in Cusco. It is often recommended to either use authorized taxi companies or Uber to ensure safe travel.  

Cabify is another app option for taxi-goers.

Peru legalized same-sex sexual consensual activity. However, same-sex marriage is currently not legal in Peru. Also since Peru is a socially conservative country open members of the LGBTQ+ community are often frowned upon if not outright harassed. For these reasons displays of affection are safer within private venues rather than public.

Recycling isn’t common practice in Peru. However, Peru just passed a law to allow the recycling of plastic water bottles among the other recycling.  

Highlights for Eco-Travelers:

  • Eco-Hotel B&B Pensión Alemana Cuzco- a hotel which focuses on respecting the environment and incorporating sustainable practices. Perfect for eco-conscious visitors.
  • The Moonstone Trail by Machu Picchu is a 25 mile intense trek that is less travelled and allows visitors to explore local communities. 
  • Maras Salt Ponds, which actually predate Machu Picchu are a staggered system of small ponds, each being owned by a local family. The salt is hand collected, sold  locally and shipped worldwide. It is beautiful to behold and a great way to support the local community.
  • Baratillo Market is a flea market frequented by locals and is a great stop to grab some clothing, food, antiques or gifts. A great way to explore the city consciously.

SHOP ETHICALLY:

packing list

THE ESSENTIALS

You want to stay in the Historic Center, either near Plaza de Armas or San Blas.

machu picchu

Book your tickets at least 6 months in advance. Wear pants, not shorts. Bring your passport to get it stamped!

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