Cusco quite literally took my breath away. Situated 3,400 metres up in the Andes Mountains of Peru, this city was the capital of the Inca Empire during the 13th to16th centuries. Cusco is laid out in the shape of a puma which symbolises power and strength, its head being Sacsayhuaman and the body formed by the Tulumayo and Huatanay Rivers.
Altitude sickness is a problem that many travellers have to cope with in Cusco. Usually, this starts affecting people at 2,438 metres or higher (Machu Picchu is at 2,430 metres). First of all, altitude sickness is something you cannot predict. It can affect anybody and it does not discriminate. The best way to prevent altitude sickness is to acclimate at a lower altitude and slowly move up. It is also important to stay hydrated. We took Diamox 24 hours before arriving and have been taking it until our last day in La Paz, Bolivia which has an elevation of 3,640 metres. Yet, I still felt breathless, more so when we reached the Rainbow Mountains (Vinicunca) which is located at a whopping 5,200 metres above sea level. *Please consult your doctor before taking Diamox.
Chewing coca leaves or drinking coca tea are helpful in relieving mild altitude sickness. Be aware that coca leaf is the raw material used to manufacture the drug cocaine but this is absolutely legal in Peru.
Cusco is small and easy to get around. It is a city like no other, so vibrant, full of life and filled with visitors from all over the world. This friendly city is packed with cultural sights, impressive monuments and beautiful churches at every corner. I would recommend that you explore the area by foot but wear comfortable shoes because the streets can be hilly and uneven.
A statue of Inca King Pacachuti, the 9th ruler of the Kingdom of Cusco right in the middle of Plaza de Armas..
Cusco is a charming city with unspoiled colonial architecture and plenty of wonderful restaurants. Chicha, one of Cusco's most popular restaurants is part of the celebrated Astrid & Gaston restaurant group in Peru. If you are unable to book yourself a table at Astrid & Gaston in Lima, having a meal at Chicha is another way to experience Gaston Acurio's culinary greatness in a different way. I would suggest making reservations in advance because it tends to fill up quickly.
Chicha is an upscale restaurant located across Plaza el Regocijo on the second floor of a building. The atmosphere is cosy with attractive local decors. Food was delectable with a contemporary twist on classical Peruvian dishes while retaining its original flavours. Dishes were rich, hearty and delicious and most came in large portions.
Que Tal Mango (mango, passionfruit and banana)
Chicha de Jora (white corn)
Chicha Morada (purple corn)
Pork Crackling, Beef Stir Fry, Tequeno, Beef Heart Anticucho, Stuffed Potato and Sauces
Purple Corn Bread, Quinoa Bread Stick and Red Pepper Butter
Pork Super Adobo- Pork Nape, Ribs and Cheeks, Rocoto and Chuta Local Bread
Atomatada Lengua (beef tongue) with Arracacha Puree, Rocoto and Hierbabuena Sarza
Alpaca Curry- Colca Valley's Alpaca served with Quinoa and Season Fruit
Globo de Chocolate
This chocolate globe is not only impressive but tasted fantastic as well.
A mind blowing dessert to end an excellent meal.
Prickly pears also known as cactus fruits can be sliced up to eat or made into juice. They are also commonly used in jams and candies.
San Pedro Market is also known as the Shaman's Market.
Wachuma is a scared cactus known for having special healing powers and a source of protection from evil spirits and bad luck.
Big loaves of bread bigger than my face.
Some cultures believe that photography can steal your soul away. I asked this cholita permission to snap a photo and she expressed willingness but buried her face in her hand.
Peru grows more than 55 varieties of corn. It is dried, seasoned and can be eaten as a snack.
Plaza Regocijo 261, Cusco, Peru
+51 84 240520