Ruins – purchasing a Boleto Turistico (ticket) provides one-time only admission to any of 16 different tourist attractions in the region including Incan ruins and historical buildings and museums in Cuzco. One of the most popular ruins outside of Machu Picchu, Sacsayhuaman, is located just above Cuzco. A bloody battle was fought here between the Spanish and the Incas. It is amazing the size of the huge stone walls that surround these ruins. Sacsayhuaman is within walking distance of Cuzco.
River Rafting is very popular with visitors to Cuzco – and usually reasonably priced with day trips including lunch, guides, the use of the raft & gear. Urubamba river is a very popular outing offering a variety of rapids and descents for beginners to experts. Most of the primary river rafting areas are within several hours of Cuzco by car. At this elevation, the water can be quite cold so participants will be given wet suits. There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush produced from rafting for several hours down Class III and IV rapids, especially when the part of the raft you are in is lifted several feet above the rest of the raft and water pours in – while speeding past large rocks in the river. If you have never rafted rapids such as these before pay close attention to your guides and the signals they give. Certain signals will need to be executed extremely quickly such as when the raft is about to hit a rock – and certain passengers must immediately jump up and lean to one side of the boat.
Horseback Riding . One such ride starts above Cuzco and can be secured for $15 if ones does a little bargaining at one of the agencies. This ride is a fun 4-5 hour excursion – no prior experience with horse back riding is necessary. A guide will walk or ride with you, and you will visit several Incan ruins including the famous Sacsayhuaman located just above Cuzco in the hills. This ride above Cuzco is through some very pretty terrain – and despite being so close to Cuzco, one probably won’t see many tourists.
Gambling – Babilonia is located on Avenue Sol (one of the main streets), several blocks down from the main Plaza de Armas. I am partial to this casino as I know one of the owners. This is the largest casino in Cuzco; there are also other casinos scattered around town.
NOTE: a percentage of Peruvian coins and some bills are FAKE. It is very hard to notice the difference between real coins and fake coins unless you know what you are looking for. Sometimes the letters on the fake coins are blurry or off center. Have a person who lives in Peru show you the difference. In addition if you receive a bill that has even the smallest of rips/tears in it – good luck in trying to spend that particular bill. A bill like this is a curse and most people will not take it. Bills that are very worn or old looking are also difficult to spend. You might be able to spend these bills in the airport in Lima. Keep a very close eye on the bills and the coins that you receive as change and refuse them if they are not in good condition.
Museo Inka is worth taking 30-40 minutes to visit. It is located almost behind the main cathedral near Plaza del Armas in central Cuzco. It houses an impressive collection of Incan artifacts within several rooms. Looking for metal riches? You might be disappointed as the museum does not display very much gold or silver – rather objects are mostly ceramics, and wood and stone.
One of the more interesting displays is a collection of real human skulls that were physically manipulated during childhood. Some are very long and some are curved in – in the back of the skull. This museum is open Monday through Friday from 9-5 and also Saturday from 9-5. They are located at Av. Huayruropata 123. PHONE: 221956 – some of the descriptions in the displays are in English, but most are in Spanish.
(Mercado San Pedro ) is located close to the train station – about a 10-15 minute walk from Plaza de Armas. It is closed on Thursdays. If you have time this market is well worth a visit. Two long rows of fruit dominate the center surrounded by additional aisles of freshly cut meat. If you visit the meat vendors, it is very clear that no part of the animal is wasted. Everything from brains, eyes, hooves to the animal’s head is for sale. Several vendors were even selling live fuzzy caterpillars for consumption. The food section of this market overwhelms ones senses with an eclectic mix of smells & sights. One of the highlights is a glass of freshly squeezed fruit juice.
Shopping – Cuzco tends to be a bit more pricey than some of the other tourist destinations in the country. The reason for this is the concentration of tourists who visit around the world. The quality of shops however, tend to be a step up from some of the other tourist destinations we have visited in Peru. Some of the Peruvian crafts sold in town include paintings, silver and gold objects, jewelry, pottery and woodwork.
Artesanias Merida is located just off the Plaza de Armas. Worth a visit for the diversity of items for sale. Open from Mon-Sat (8am-8pm) and on Sunday from 4pm-8pm. The stores in this Artesanias all accept major credit cards. This complex is located at Triunfo 366 – their phone number is: 236386
An outdoor and travel equipment store (Cia. De Aventura) is located at Plazolet Las Nazarenas 211 near the luxurious Hotel Monasterio del Cuzco. They have an excellent selection of outdoor clothing. Very well organized. Phone: 51 84 24 5314
Lares Hot Springs are about 90 minutes from Cuzco by taxi. The route passes through stunning scenery of the Sacred Valley. This valley is deep in the Andes surrounded by impressive terraced mountain slopes. One drives through the sleepy town of Calca with its main plaza a very quiet contrast to the bustling plaza in Cuzco.
The actual hot springs are about 15 minutes from Calca on a dirt road. They are a series of iron colored water contained within small pools in a glass windowed room. The actual water is not extremely hot, maybe in the low 90’s Fahrenheit.