Coricancha y el Convento de Santo Domingo

As you explore Cusco, you will find an impressive number of museums, temples and archaeological sites inside and outside the city limits. The Coricancha and the Convent of Santo Domingo are just two of them.

Although the exact history of both is unclear, what is known dates back several centuries and easily captivates the most curious travelers passing through the ancient Inca capital. Let’s see!

What is Coricancha and where is it located?

Coricancha, also known as Koricancha, Qoricancha or Qorikancha, is an ancient temple that was the most important in the Inca empire. The name translates as golden enclosure in Quechua.

Built over the temple of Coricancha is the Convent of Santo Domingo, which was built by the Spanish in 1633.

Both Coricancha and the Santo Domingo Convent are located two blocks from the Plaza de Armas at the intersection of El Sol Avenue and Santo Domingo Street.

Price to enter Coricancha and the Santo Domingo Convent

There are a couple of options to visit the Coricancha museum. They consist of the following:

Day ticket: 15 soles ($5 USD) for adults.
Integral Tourist Ticket: 130 soles ($40 USD) for adults, which allows access to 16 attractions in Cusco and the Sacred Valley for 10 days, including Coricancha.
Discounts are also offered for children and students. In addition, if you wish to see some, but not all of the attractions included in the Boleto Turístico Integral, Partial Tourist Tickets are available at a lower cost.

Hours

In the subway archaeological museum of Coricancha you will see mummies, sacred idols, textiles, sculptures and more from ancient Inca times. You can visit:

Monday through Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Sunday: 2:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Please note that entrance to the Coricancha museum may be limited on holidays.

Nearby hotels

If you wish to stay near the center of the city of Cusco, you have a wide variety of options. Some of the most popular are:

JW Marriott Hotel, which elegantly combines luxury with colonial design.
Aranwa Cusco Boutique Hotel, a hotel-museum built in an old colonial mansion.
Hotel Plaza de Armas Cusco, with an incomparable view of the square and its surrounding churches.
Casa Andina Standard Cusco Plaza, a more economical option located just one block from the square.
Inkaterra La Casona Relais & Chateaux, a 16th century colonial mansion converted into a boutique.
The origins of Coricancha
There is much debate about the exact origins of the temple of Coricancha. Some historians claim that the construction of the temple dates back to pre-Inca times, asserting that only the remodeling of the temple can be credited to the Inca Pachacutec after his victory over the Chancas in the 15th century.

However, no matter when it was built, the construction of the Cusco temple continues to stand the test of time.

The exacting precision of the mortarless interlocking stones not only exemplifies the imperial power of the Incas, but has also withstood earthquakes over the centuries.

The Coricancha was created with four temples surrounding a central plaza: the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Moon, the Temple of Venus and the Stars, and the Temple of the Rainbow. Outside the enclosed temples was the outer garden, or Sacred Garden of the Sun.

Undoubtedly, the temple dedicated to the Sun God, Inti, was the most important. It was completely covered with gold plates and within its boundaries were statues of gold and silver deities. It is said that the large amount of precious metals in Coricancha made it shine.

However, with the conquest of the Spanish in the 16th century, the temple of Coricancha was destroyed, and all the gold was looted and sent to Spanish royalty.

Then, under Catholic rule, the Convent of Santo Domingo was built on top of it. Its construction took the better part of a century.

Photos of Coricancha

Today, some of the most important features of Cusco’s ancient temple are now overshadowed by the grandiose Convent of Santo Domingo.

A view of the Convent of Santo Domingo from outside Perfectly interlocking stones inside an original Inca room, Perfectly interlocking stones inside an original Inca room.

Interested in visiting the temple of Coricancha and the Convent of Santo Domingo? Let us help you book your train to Machu Picchu with options departing directly from the city of Cusco. Don’t miss out on the adventure of experiencing Peru’s rich history during your customized trip to Machu Picchu!

 

 

How to get to the Archaeological Center of Chinchero

The Archaeological Center of Chinchero is little known by travelers, however, it has interesting attractions. So, if you plan to visit Cusco and Machu Picchu on tour, you can not fail to include your visit to the Sacred Valley of the Incas and visit Chinchero.

In this article we want to explain the service that most of the authorized tours offer, you will also know what to know and everything you can do during the adventure.

Stay with us to discover how to enjoy the most of your visit to Peru through one of the best routes to Machu Picchu visiting Chinchero and Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Let’s start.

Tour to the Archaeological Center of Chinchero

Chinchero hides unique corners that make it a necessary stop to learn more about the culture and tradition of Peru. If you visit it, we are sure you will get attached to its people and customs.

To begin with, you can go to Chinchero from Cusco by bus. Taking this alternative, you will find several tours; just focus on authorized agencies that will allow you to enjoy your trip to the fullest.

You will need at least one day to venture and live a unique experience in Chinchero and another day to know and enjoy Machu Picchu. In fact, some tours are dedicated to explore the Sacred Valley, stopping at Chinchero, Ollantaytambo and from there they take you by train to Machu Picchu.

If your trip includes visits to Chinchero, Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu, it is very likely to last at least two days and one night.

What to do during the first day?

Going into detail, we will exemplify how to manage your time to explore all that this region has to offer.

A properly managed travel itinerary can ensure a complete experience when visiting Chinchero and all that surrounds it. To begin with, let us recommend hotels located in the center of Cusco. While there are many good options, the ones mentioned above will assure you a first glimpse and experience with the local culture.

After a different night and depending on the tour you have booked, during the morning hours of the first day you will be picked up. This usually happens between 08:00 and 09:00 AM.

Your first stop in the Sacred Valley of the Incas will be Chinchero, where you can take for granted that your adventure has begun. Keep in mind that food should not be a concern since lunch will always be covered by a good agency.

If you are a lover of Inca history and its landscapes, knowing the history of the archaeological center of Chinchero is always interesting because it is a unique experience.

This imposing agricultural enclosure has up to 43 hectares that stand out for the beauty of the construction in its stairs, walls and beautiful terraces where various agricultural products were cultivated.

Inside was the palace where the Inca Tupac Yupanqui resided with his family, made with fine stonework, and on which years later was built the Church of Our Lady of Monserrat, according to some historians as a measure of cultural subjugation by the Spanish to the Inca people.

Archaeological center of Chinchero

Currently, this church is a great tourist attraction, since it has beautiful paintings on its walls that tell the history of the place, in addition to an atrium finely made of gold leaf.

And if you thought that the church of Chinchero is the only thing you can know here, we tell you that it is not so. There are many more things you are going to know about this beautiful place.

Why visit Chinchero?

Time stopped in Chinchero, that is one of the reasons to consider it an important stop. The traditions and Inca culture are still alive; the inhabitants are of Inca blood and the predominant language is Quechua (although as a second language, they speak Spanish).

Of course, in the beautiful town, you will see one of the most active, picturesque and popular markets in the area. There you can find food products and elaborate handicrafts, mostly made for the local women.

During your time in Chinchero, you will have the advantage of doing a varied number of activities with all your needs covered. You will be able to learn much more about the local traditions and culture through the traditional Andean textiles made in the village and of an undeniable quality in the finishes.

It is also a perfect place to take some pictures, especially of the women with their traditional costumes, landscapes and buildings.

Once this part of the tour is over, it is time to take the train to Aguas Calientes and its famous hot springs, which are only ten minutes away from the town. This is also the arrival point of the trains that go from Cusco to Machu Picchu.

What to do during the second day?
We know that everything experienced during the first day is enough to say that the visit has been worthwhile, but there is still more to do.

During the morning of the second day, it is common to get ready to leave by bus to Machu Picchu. Once there, it is time to visit one of the favorite destinations of most, the Inca Citadel. You would be surprised at the number of attractions you can find in the ruins, each with its own unique mysticism and peculiarity.

Normally, the bus to Machu Picchu and the entrance to the citadel are services that are included in the tour you have contracted.

Of course, you will be able to take spectacular pictures from the top of Huayna Picchu, visit the Sun Gate or the Intihuatana, among many other activities waiting for you. We particularly recommend a visit to the Temple of the Sun, a granite architecture where the highest deity of the Incas, the Sun God, was worshipped.

We can assure you that this will be your favorite part of the whole experience thanks to all the historical, cultural and amazing charm of the place. Once finished, you will be able to return to Cusco or any other destination with great satisfaction.

Do not hesitate and find out which is the ideal tour package for you and your companions at the time of this dream tour.

The wonderful land of Chinchero in Cusco

Knowing Wayna Picchu, Chinchero, Ollantaytambo and having the opportunity to travel to Machu Picchu are some of the things that thousands of visitors have been dedicated to do for years.

From ruins to Inca fortresses, to medicinal hot springs and beautiful camping with starry nights. Having the opportunity to see all that the Sacred Valley has to offer, including Chinchero, Ollantaytambo and then traveling to Machu Picchu is a dream experience that is within everyone’s reach.

The language of the Incas: Quechua

Quechua is one of Peru’s most valuable cultural contributions. Known as runa simi or ‘language of man’, Quechua was the heritage language of the Inca people. Although the Quechua language has been declining, local authorities are currently developing intercultural bilingual education programs.

In this way they are trying to prevent the disappearance of the language of the Andean peoples. Below we review the importance of revitalizing a language as rich as Quechua.

Origin of the Quechua language

According to several studies, the origin of Quechua is found in the central coast area, “more specifically in the Supe valley, Caral”, says archaeologist Ruth Shady. She maintains that almost five centuries before the rule of the Incas, a rich society developed where an integrating language was born that enriched trade relations between the people of the coast and the highlands.

Thus, the spread of the Inca language would have been directed towards the central highlands. Today, the Quechua of the provinces of Ancash, Lima, Huanuco, Junin and Cerro de Pasco is considered the oldest.

Quechua and ancient Peru

The origin of the Quechua language indicates that it was deeply spread during the 500 years of Tahuantinsuyo. It reached the city of Cusco through the cities of Yauri, Chumpiwilkas and Qanchis.

Being the language of the Incas, Quechua gained great importance, including the status of official use during the rule of the first Inca of the Tahuantinsuyo. During Spanish rule it had to be cultivated as an effective means of Christianization.

Quechua today

Learning Quechua is an increasingly important task. Although it is considered one of the official languages of Peru, it is in increasing danger of disappearing. Today, a large part of the population is trying to revalue this ancestral language by promoting it as a fundamental part of Peru’s history.

Although Spanish and Quechua have managed to coexist, people whose ancestors were born speaking Quechua are forced to adapt to the Spanish language. The importance of maintaining and respecting the language of the Incas is therefore essential to appreciate the great richness of Peru.

Learning Quechua

The idea of encouraging the use of Quechua is a task that aims to preserve an ancestral language that is part of our history. Demanding the incorporation of Quechua as part of the educational curriculum has been a challenge that is bearing fruit.

Knowing how to communicate in the language of the Incas is a way to open horizons. Currently, Quechua courses are taught in most universities and some institutes. The Language Center of San Marcos University offers a very complete course. There are also several Peruvian Quechua speakers who are beginning to teach this language and its culture.

Quechua Phrases

Undoubtedly, mastering certain phrases and key words in Quechua when traveling to a destination like Cusco, is something that will allow you to know more deeply the Inca culture as well as get closer to the people.

Here are some phrases in Quechua:

  • Hello – Rimaykullayki / Napaykullayki
  • Good morning – Allin p’unchay/sumaj punchay
  • What is your name? – Imataq sutiyki?
  • My name is… – Sutiymi kan…
  • How are you? – Allillanchu?
  • Fine and you? – Allillanmi, Qamri?

You know, part of organizing the dream trip to the navel of the world, is not only to buy your train tickets to visit Machu Picchu and book hotels in time, but also to learn more about the ancestral language that is part of the extraordinary culture of ancient Peru and Peru today.

 

Travel to Machu Picchu for children

Visiting Machu Picchu with children is a worthwhile travel alternative. The citadel of the Incas, known for being crowned as one of the seven wonders of the modern world, is visited daily by more than 3,000 tourists from all over the world.

Visiting it involves some prior planning, since we must choose dates appropriate to our travel itineraries to Cusco and issues such as weather, the number of tourists depending on the season and train schedules to the town of Aguas Calientes.

Given the logistics, the length of the train ride and the conditions at the archaeological site, many people might be discouraged from traveling with children to Machu Picchu.

But the truth is that traveling with children in general is to give them unforgettable experiences, and even more so if it is a place as special as Machu Picchu, which will definitely not go unnoticed in their childhood memories.

Machu Picchu summary

The citadel of Machu Picchu is located in the department of Cusco, about 80 km from the city at 2,340 meters above sea level. It is said that it was a religious sanctuary, or one of the resting residences of the Inca Pachacutec, but the truth is that its incredible architecture located on the slopes of the Huayna Picchu mountain, takes our breath away thanks to its magnificent beauty and grandeur.

The citadel discovered and spread to the world by the American explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911, has been since then, the most important reference of Peruvian archaeological tourism, and one of the most visited historical sites in America.

Traveling to Cusco with children

The first thing to think about when traveling to Cusco with children is their well-being. We must make sure that the altitude of the city does not make them dizzy or give them the annoying soroche. Avoiding it is easy: a good rest upon arrival from the airport, light food during the first day and sugar candies to give them extra energy if they lack oxygen.

In the city everything will surely arouse their interest, but if we spend a few days there prior to the trip to Machu Picchu, you can organize a trip to the ruins of Sacsayhuaman or visit on horseback the X Zone, full of caves and rock formations fun for children.

A visit to the Colcamayo hot springs can also be a very pleasant and different experience for children.

Traveling to Machu Picchu with kids

Machu Picchu with children is usually a very positive experience if you are cautious and take into account several factors such as the weather (a storm could be uncomfortable or not pleasing to them), or the hikes that are often tiring if they do not rest or become boring for them.

We think it is best to get creative from the beginning and start this trip awakening their curiosity with visual stimuli such as videos and funny stories related to the citadel of the Incas, to stimulate their desire and curiosity to explore this amazing place.

Tips for traveling by train with children

For many children, the train ride can be a moment to look forward to as much as the destination itself, especially for those without much experience in boarding trains. If this is your case, the trip is sure to start with a great and positive energy.

For those who are not very enthusiastic, or get bored more quickly, it is advisable to start stimulating their imagination in a very visual way, with stories about the Incas and their constructions, take maps and trace the routes so that they start to get excited about what they will see. Drawing with them is also a way to connect with the stories and stimulate their fantasy.

The trip to Machu Picchu from Ollantaytambo lasts about 1 hour and 40 minutes, so any child could get bored sitting in the same place. We suggest you to walk around the wagons with your child, and invite him/her to look through the windows at the scenery. That way he/she can get a better idea of what awaits him/her and not think about the time left to arrive.

Machu Picchu with kids train ride

Tour guide: Machu Picchu for children

Upon arrival, it is advisable to hire a tour guide in Machu Picchu that uses an appropriate and understandable language for children, and that the visit is entertaining. This will make the tour more enjoyable and agile, as they could easily lose interest.

Children will be able to find some llamas in the citadel, which can be fun for them. If we get more creative (and we are with several children) we could even organize a visual “treasure hunt” where the kids can go through some sections of Machu Picchu in an adventurous way.

The ideal is to start the tour early in the morning, so that the children have a good breakfast, and so that they finish before their lunch break in Aguas Calientes. It is recommended to bring plenty of water for them, snacks on hand and sunscreen and hat in case they get a very sunny day. Machu Picchu with children will be an experience of adventure, culture and activity for the whole family.

If you are interested in traveling to Machu Picchu with children, make a reservation here on one of the trains that depart from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. You will find several options where your children will travel safe and happy.

What is Holy Week like in Cusco?

Holy Week in Cusco is a popular date that brings together thousands of visitors from all over the world. The religious and cultural traditions inherited for decades mark this period with intense manifestations of faith. For the people of Cusco, these are essential dates because the processions are attended by thousands of people.

During the week of Lent, considered a time of penance, believers prepare for the celebration of Easter. There are processions inherited from generation to generation and a lot of devotion from the believers. For the devout, these are dates of great faith and reflection. Here we tell you why Holy Week in Cusco is a date that celebrates not only tradition – but also history.

How do they celebrate Holy Week in Cusco?

Just like the Cusco Cathedral, other churches in Cusco open their doors during Holy Week to receive millions of devotees. Between the masses, the peculiar processions and the feeling of faith that fills the streets of Cusco, the celebrations begin.

Among the local beliefs, there is the one that points out the healing properties that plants, herbs and roots acquire during Good Friday. For that reason, farmers from all over Cusco gather in the plazas to offer an incredible variety of healing herbs.

Procession of the Lord of the Tremors

The “Taytacha de los Temblores” or Lord of the Tremors is one of the main processions that congregates a large part of the population. During Holy Monday, a crucified Christ, distinguished by its indigenous features, walks through the main streets of the city and the Main Square of Cusco.

This procession takes place the day after Palm Sunday, where the blessings have already been given. The highlight of this procession is when the Lord of the Tremors blesses the believers from the shoulders of the teams of porters. At this moment you can see the great devotion of thousands of women who cry before the image of the Andean Jesus.

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is the day that marks the end of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week. On this day the faithful attend mass in the morning and hear the liturgical psalm. In Cusco it is celebrated with the blessing of palm leaves and woven crosses, which are hung behind the doors of every home as a sign of protection.

Easter Monday

Easter Monday marks the second day of Holy Week and is a symbolic day where you can see the devotion of the people of Cusco and thousands of faithful gathered in the Plaza de Armas of Cusco. It is also on Holy Monday when the Archbishop of Cusco offers the Communion Mass in the Cathedral.

However, the highlight of this second day of Holy Week is the procession of the Señor de los Temblores, considered the Patron Saint of the city. Witnessing this procession is a truly unique experience as it is an example of deep faith and tradition that has been going on for several decades.

Holy Thursday

It is well known that on Holy Thursday, the authorities of Cusco – such as the mayor and the prefect of the city – carry the Holy Sacrament in procession. Masses are also celebrated in all the churches.

Good Friday

Good Friday is characterized by the tradition of the twelve plates which allude to the twelve disciples of Christ. In the district of Sayllapata in the province of Paucartambo for example, soups made with Andean ingredients are usually prepared. Whether it is the soup known as k’irku, prepared with tarwi, cheese, milk and eggs or the soup made from whole chicken eggs, the meal always represents a special tradition.

One of the customs that also occurs in Cusco is that on Good Friday red meat should not be consumed, as the people are in abstinence. Other ingredients on which the dishes are concentrated are potatoes, corn, ollucos and wheat. In any of the streets you will find dishes offered with these Andean ingredients, including trout sudado and saltado de bacalao.

Resurrection Sunday

Easter Sunday begins with masses of the faithful who come from 7 a.m. to the first mass of the morning to listen to the homily for Easter Sunday. It is the most important day for Christians because it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus.

If you are in Cusco during Easter Sunday, you will see that besides celebrating mass in all the churches, there is also a procession with the image of the resurrected Christ. You will see that in the squares there is movement and you will be able to enjoy the typical food that is offered during the whole day.

Convents and Churches in Cusco to Visit

Part of the majesty of Cusco is found in its beautiful temples and convents, which reflect a fundamental part of Cusco’s history. Undoubtedly, an excellent way to discover and learn more about a culture is to learn more about their beliefs, spiritual practices and temples where they worshipped their gods.

With the arrival of the Spaniards to the ancient Inca capital, the evangelization and extirpation of idolatries became a fundamental task for the conquerors. A good part of it was the construction of several churches over important Inca temples.

Today these convents and churches in Cusco are considered the most beautiful in all America for their high architectural level and spirituality. Below we give you details of six of the most beautiful churches in the ancient Inca capital.

Knowing the best convents and churches in Cusco
An essential part of the tourist circuit in Cusco is the visit to the most beautiful convents and churches of the city -all of them keeping historical traces that no visitor wants to miss. The fusion of Andean traditions and colonial charm makes these buildings truly unique.

If you are going to start your exploration of the city of Cusco by visiting some of the city’s convents, start at the Plaza de Armas. From the Cathedral of Cusco to the Society of Jesus, every church in this unique city has something that will awaken your admiration.

We have simplified it for you by selecting the 6 most important churches in Cusco. Just remember – no photography allowed.

Cusco Cathedral

Built by Spanish architect Juan Veramendi in 1560 over the former palace of the Inca Wiracocha, construction of the Cusco Cathedral began in 1559 and was completed almost a century later. Located in Cusco’s main square, the church was built with stones from the nearby fortress of Sacsayhuaman.

In addition to housing extraordinary pieces of the Cusco School, the Cusco Cathedral represents an example of colonial architecture. The Virgin Mary, wearing a mountain-shaped foul alluding to the Pachamama, is one of the most unique representations present.

In addition, its central location just steps from the Plaza de Armas of Cusco, makes it a must for every visitor. Among the main attractions is the crypt of the chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega, which has half of his ashes, since the other half is in Spain.

The painting of the Last Supper, painted by the Cusco master Marcos Zapata and the “Silver Room” that contains ornaments made of silver, are other must-sees during your visit to the Cathedral.

Santo Domingo Convent Located a few steps from the main square, the striking convent of Santo Domingo sits on the foundations of Coricancha. Considered the most important Inca building, the Temple of the Sun was looted and demolished decades before the Spanish completed construction of the convent in 1633.

The combination of colonial and Inca style includes a magnificent carved baroque tower that supports the bell tower. Some of the curved walls and even the Coricancha garden space remain on the monastery grounds well maintained to this day.

Discover the beautiful cloisters and admire the collection of century-old paintings done in the style of the Cuzco School and you will witness a unique record of Inca history.

Church of San Pedro

Located near the Central Market of San Pedro, one of the largest and most peculiar markets in Cusco, the Church of San Pedro is characterized by its traditional Cusquenian façade. The work of the self-taught architect Juan Tomás Tuiru Túpac, a noble Indian descendant of the Incas, the church stands out for its altar rich in images and canvases that can be seen from any angle.

Although quite modest in size in relation to the grander churches of the city, the intricate sculptures and historical paintings inside the church of San Pedro are worth admiring. Likewise, the baroque, walnut-colored pulpit catches the eye of any onlooker.

San Pedro Apostle or “Sistine Chapel”.

Located in Andahuaylillas, province of Quispicanchi 40 km from the city of Cusco you will find the San Pedro Apostle Church known as the “Sistine Chapel of America”. Besides being one of the most popular points of the route of colonial temples of Cusco, this chapel has the most beautiful golden altars. Despite its sober adobe and stone facade, this chapel is adorned with various works of religious art.

The amount of artistic details that can be appreciated in the interior of the Sistine Chapel shows the uniqueness of the Andean baroque. The altarpiece of magnificent gold leaf with canvases and sculptures of saints and virgins and other elements carved in 1645 only highlight the beauty that characterizes this chapel.

Convent of La Merced

One block from the Plaza Regocijo in the historic center of Cusco is located the Convent of La Merced. Destroyed in 1650, it would take almost 20 years to rebuild this beautiful convent where the mural painting and the Custody made of gold and adorned with precious stones stand out.

The historic rustic walls of the cloister are adorned with paintings of the Cuzco School and the church houses the tomb of the conquistador Gonzalo Pizarro (Francisco’s brother). Its charming columns and baroque bell tower are part of its attraction, but also the beautiful carvings.

The Society of Jesus

Like the San Pedro Apostle church of Andahuaylillas, this church is part of the Andean Baroque route. La Compañía de Jesús was built by the Jesuits in 1571 and like other churches, it is also representative of the Cusquenian Baroque style.

Located in the Main Square of Cusco, the Company of Jesus welcomes visitors with a charming facade. The majesty of the church is not only due to the imposing main altar carved in cedar and adorned with gold leaf, but also to the presence of the image of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception.

It is worth admiring the canvases depicting the life of the founder of the Order, St. Ignatius of Loyola, painted by Marcos Zapata and his assistant Cipriano Gutierrez.

 

 

5 tips to combat altitude sickness in Cusco and Machu Picchu

When you start researching Peru and its destinations, many blogs warn of something that can terrify tourists: altitude sickness. While it is true that it can affect anyone regardless of gender, physical condition or age, there are ways to avoid it.

To (try) to make your trip a pleasant and hassle-free one, here are some frequently asked questions about altitude sickness in Cusco and Machu Picchu and how it is treated. Take note!

At what altitude are Cusco and Machu Picchu located?

Being located in the middle of the mountains, you may think that Machu Picchu is located higher than Cusco, but it is not! The Imperial City is 3,399 meters above sea level, while Machu Picchu is 2,430 meters above sea level, almost 1000 meters difference!

What causes altitude sickness or soroche?

In cities or places of higher altitude, the oxygen level is lower and lower. As our brain needs oxygen and is accustomed to receiving more of it in the areas where we live, which are usually at lower altitudes, when we reach higher places the body notices this lack.

According to experts, altitude sickness or soroche can begin to affect from 2,400 meters above sea level, but that does not mean that every time you visit a place with this height or higher your body will feel affected.

What are the symptoms of altitude sickness?

The symptoms of altitude sickness are easily recognizable and generally mild, so you should not need the help of any medical professional.

Thus, the lack of sufficient oxygen can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, lack of appetite, sleep disorders, elevated heart rate and shortness of breath.

Tips to combat altitude sickness or soroche

As we told you above, there is no need to be afraid of soroche! Although its symptoms are not pleasant, there are many ways to help us with the treatment of altitude sickness. Here are some tips!

Avoid abundant food: one of the measures you have to take before traveling to a place located at high altitude is to eat lightly. Two days before starting your trip, start eating dishes rich in carbohydrates and natural sugars.
Rest when you arrive at your destination: the most advisable thing to do is to make the ascent to high altitude little by little, but as we know that this is not always possible, we recommend that you take the first days in Cusco calmly and without doing activities that require great physical effort.
Take coca leaves, coca tea or pills for soroche: before feeling the symptoms of soroche you can prevent its onset by taking coca leaves or coca tea (you will find them in any store, bar or lodging in Cusco). In addition, you can also go to any pharmacy in the city and buy pills for soroche.

Drink plenty of water: the altitude also causes the air to be drier and, consequently, our body needs more water to stay hydrated. Therefore, we recommend that you always carry a bottle of water in your backpack and drink constantly, even if you are not thirsty.

Avoid alcohol: alcohol is also a drink that causes dehydration of the body, so we recommend you not to overdo it during your visit to Cusco.
Although most people who come to Cusco daily do not have any problems and are not affected by altitude sickness, it is always good to be prepared and avoid any complications during the trip.

Don’t be afraid of altitude sickness and travel safe with these tips from Inca Rail!

 

How to get to Machu Picchu?

There are several routes to get to Machu Picchu, which is the best option? It depends on what you want to do, your comfort and budget. Here are the most used ones.

1. By train

From Cusco Train Station, the PeruRail departs to Aguas Calientes, passing through the Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo station. The train is the most comfortable and also the most expensive way. The price depends on the schedule, anticipation and class, but the cheapest you can get is 130 dollars round trip.

2. By Excursion / Trekking.

Also here there are several options. If you want to hire the official Inca Trail, you must do it well in advance and be willing to pay a sum of money close to u$s 500. The trail passes through a number of ruins and historical and archaeological landmarks to lead directly to Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate.

For those who want to trek and do not have that budget, there are several tour options such as the Inca Jungle that take you through the jungle and reach Aguas Calientes. Generally all expenses are included (food and lodging) and prices vary according to the number of days but range between u$s 200.

3. The Hydroelectric Road: The backpacker route.

This is the most economical and independent way to get to Machu Picchu. It is a small combination of means of transportation that I present below. If you follow the magic formula, you will visit the backpacker landmark par excellence at a very low cost.

From Cusco, you should go very early (at 6 am) to the Santiago Bus Terminal, which is a few blocks walk from the Plaza de Armas. There you should take a bus to the town of Santa Maria (they cost between 15 to 20 Soles depending on how easy it is to bargain). You have to be patient. It is a 6 hour trip stopping for a while in Urubamba and Ollantaytambo.

Once you arrive in Santa Maria, a horde of minivan drivers will be waiting to take you to another town: Santa Teresa. It is approximately 10 Soles.

From there you can start walking or get a cab to take you to the famous Hidroelectrica for 5 Soles. The cab is a regular car, which will pick up people along the way until it fills up (there is always someone else getting in).

Finally they arrive at the Hydroelectric Station! There you must register at a checkpoint and walk for two hours through a breathtaking jungle landscape along the train tracks until you reach Aguas Calientes.

What is the best time of the year to visit Machu Picchu?

The best time to visit Machu Picchu is between May and October, the dry season. During November and December many do not recommend it because it tends to rain intermittently. I went on December 24 and although it was drizzling for a while in the morning, the sun came out at noon and the day was unbeatable. From January to April, it is not advisable since it is the rainy season. Generally, the whole month of February the park is closed for refurbishment and conservation.Travel to machu picchu

Tickets to Machu Picchu:

Very important fact! Tickets are not sold at the entrance to the ruins. If you get there without them, you are in big trouble because you are not going to get them.

Where to buy tickets?

Tickets can be purchased at the following points of sale:

Tourist agencies, if you hire a complete and programmed excursion.
Online at www.machupicchu.gob.pe, via credit card.
At the Dirección de Cultura de Cusco (Casa Garcilaso – Calle Garcilaso s/n), with credit card or cash. You can pay in dollars. I bought them there and it was great because it was cheaper!
In the town of Aguas Calientes, only with cash and in Soles.

There are three types of tickets, depending on what you want to visit.

  • Inca City of Machu Picchu: It gives you access to the ruins of the citadel.
  • Inca City of Machu Picchu + Machu Picchu Mountain: It also includes access to climb the Mountain and the Sun Gate.
  • Inca City of Machu Picchu + Wayna Picchu: The most coveted, includes the ruins and access to Wayna Picchu Mountain and the Temple of the Moon.
  • In all cases, you must take them in advance. I recommend you do it a few days in advance, especially if you want to visit the “Wayna Picchu” option, as it is the most required and there is an entry quota of 200 people per day for better conservation.

Entrance fees to Machu Picchu

Updated – March 2021

Foreigners:

  • Machu Picchu Ruins: 152 soles. Students: 77 soles.
  • Machu Picchu Ruins + Machu Picchu Mountain: 200 soles. Students: 125 soles.
  • Machu Picchu Ruins + Wayna Picchu Mountain: 200 soles. Students: 125 soles.

Peruvians:

  • Machu Picchu Ruins: 64 soles. Students: 32 soles.
  • Machu Picchu Ruins + Machu Picchu Mountain: 112 soles. Students: 80 soles.
  • Machu Picchu Ruins + Wayna Picchu Mountain: 112 soles. Students: 80 soles.

Discounts for Students: As you will see, students have a very convenient price to enter Machu Picchu. To access it, they are required to present the international ISIC card. This is mandatory, it is not useful the passbook of your university, or the certificate of regular student, or any other paper. You will only receive a discount with the ISIC card (they also have discounts for many other places in Cusco and Peru).

None of these tickets include a guide. There are many at the entrance to the park with whom you can reach an agreement and negotiate time and price.

Access Hours:

The sanctuary opens at 6 am and you can enter until 4 pm. The park closes at 5 pm. Within these hours you can stay as long as you want, you can even leave and re-enter as many times as you wish.

I recommend you to get up early in the morning and go early in the morning to see how the early morning mist dissipates as if the curtain is drawn on the most awaited postcard. It is undoubtedly a magical moment!

Machu Picchu Geography, Climate and Altitude

Geographically Machu Picchu would be something like the border between the Andes and the jungle. That is why it is a tropical mountain range, jungle, full of green and therefore, among so much vegetation was hidden for hundreds of years. It is located on top of the mountain, surrounded by two peaks: Wayna Picchu (Young Mountain) and Machu Picchu (Old Mountain). Several meters below, flows the Vilcanota River, which tends to be very fast-flowing during the rainy season.

There is a myth about the altitude. It is generally believed that Machu Picchu is very high and among travelers there is usually some concern about altitude sickness or “soroche”. The reality is that the ruins are at approximately 2,400 meters above sea level, which is still a considerable altitude for those who are not used to it; but the most serious problem occurs when one arrives in Cusco (3,399 meters above sea level). Throughout the trip from Cusco to Machu Picchu, you do nothing but go down in altitude. In any case, it is important to be forewarned.

How to combat altitude sickness? It is advisable to spend the first few days in Cusco, adapt and then go to Machu Picchu (we do not want to ruin that experience between vomiting and dizziness by anxious). Also, eat lightly, drink plenty of water and coca tea to alleviate the symptoms.

The climate varies according to the time of the year in which you visit. It can range from humid heat to intense cold, but the biggest problem to avoid is rain.