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Monday, 21 August 2017

An Excursion To South America: 14. About Cuzco, Peru


From Lima To Cuzco
From Lima, we flew to Cuzco. It was total madness at Lima International Airport just before the departure. The queue to get the luggage checked in was ridiculously long and another queue to clear the immigration was simply insane. I have never experienced such a sardine-packed scenario in other airports before. The wait seemed endless so though I like Lima, I was glad to board a plane to get out of it. It only took 1½ hours before we landed in Cuzco.


About Cuzco
Cuzco is a very interesting city. It is located on the mountains of The Andes which is the longest mountain range in the world. Its altitude at a staggering 11,152 feet above sea level is also something to be reckoned with. As a matter of fact any place with altitude that exceeds 9000 ft would see the oxygen level drop by 5% to 6% and people arriving from places with lower altitude may start to suffer altitude sickness. 
Chewing coca leaves is one way to alleviate this problem and that is the reason you see a basket of these leaves offered for free for arriving visitors at Cuzco Airport.
Another way to alleviate altitude sickness is to pop in altitude sickness pills which is available in pharmacies. I underestimated the seriousness of the problem and didn't take any precaution just to suffer hours later. The lack of oxygen took the toll on me about 4 to 5 hours after I arrived in Cuzco. Feeling giddy, lethargic and generally unwell was the consequence for trying to be a hero. Fortunately our accommodation at Sacred Valley was at a much lower altitude and it started to feel better there.
Cuzco was the capital of the ancient Inca Empire which flourished through the 13th till 16th century. This great empire was unfortunately ended by Spanish invaders during the 16th century. Because it is a storehouse of many ancient monuments and ruins, Cuzco was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Cuzco is also the only city in this region that has an airport and a train station so it can be considered a gateway to visit the renowned Machu Picchu which is located about 75km away. By the way the famed Machu Picchu is one of 'The New Seven Wonders Of The World' and it is also one reason why Cuzco became Peru's major tourist destination. 
I like Cuzco as it is relatively unspoilt. Many monuments, buildings and streets date back to more than 500 years with some even as old as 900 years. Walking around is a like walking back in time and this ambiance of the past gives you the opportunity to get immersed in its rich history. Some local folks are still clad in traditional outfits and can be seen walking their llamas and alpacas on the street. This city has indeed survived the tide of modernization and development and is one worth visiting. 

Glimpses Of Cuzco City
Below are some photos taken around the city.














Plaza de Armas
Plaza de Armas is Cuzco's main city square. Located right in the city centre, this square is a favourite gathering place for many and is used as a venue for the city’s important events and festivals.
Among the more prominent buildings at Plaza de Armas is Cuzco Cathedral which was built in 1560 and which took 100 years to complete.
Another very imposing structure is CompaƱia de Jesus Church which was built in 1576 and reconstructed after a 1650 earthquake. Both the church and the cathedral were built during the Spanish reign over Cuzco.
Plaza de Armas is a beautiful square where I could sit for hours admiring the garden and vintage monuments around. The weather was cool, the ambiance, unique but oops..I forgot the air was very thin and people like me who was not acclimatized to its high altitude might get light headed after some time. Anyway when you are on a guided tour, you will have to leave no matter how much you like to loiter around.
Surrounding the square you can find many restaurants, cafes and shops.


Outskirt Of Cuzco
We left the city for its outskirt passing through quiet streets and laid back villages.

A large statue of Jesus could be seen on a small hill along the way. 
This statue called Cristo Blanco is 26 feet high and is reminiscent of Christ The Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro. This is however a much smaller version.

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