Cusco: Va para ti!

| April 22, 2010 | 3 Comments

Editor’s note — If things have seemed a little silent around these parts, it’s because at least one half of the intrepid Two Go Round-The-World duo has been on a small group tour of Peru. Offered by Gap Adventures, this 10-day tour is dubbed a ‘Taste of Peru’ and encompasses Lima, the Amazon and the Andes. While it is our intention to feature the trip in a number of comprehensive articles, we couldn’t help but share a few small previews while in the midst of the trip.

Va para ti! — is the Spanish slogan for Peru’s lovely Cusqeuna beer. It translates roughly into “this is for you” or “this suits you”. The saying is often employed when dedicating a toast to someone, ie “va por ti”.

It’s a particularly suitable expression for the city of Cusco—which you will find to be an incredibly diverse and endlessly interesting city in which to walk around. High in the Andes, Cusco is the home of Cusquena beer and—with a wide range of activities on offer—you will certainly find something especially “for you”.

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Plaza de Armas is the centre of Cuzco's old town

If you prefer the more staid pursuits of soaking up colonial architecture, learning more about Incan history—or if you prefer hitting the trails on a quad bike or on horseback—Cusco offers a little bit of something for everyone.

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Surveying Cusco from Sacsayhuamán—a walled complex near the old city.

Located in southeastern Peru, Cusco is situated near the Urubamba Valley in the Andes mountains. The municipality boasts a population of ~350,000 and has experienced three-fold growth in the past twenty years. Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire and, with a vast array of Incan sites scattered throughout and in the hills around the city, was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983 by UNESCO. It is a major tourist destination and, according to Wikipedia, receives almost a million visitors a year.

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Incan walls on display at the Qoriqancha-Santo Domingo Convent in Cusco

The city is a unique combination of the colonial and the Incan. It’s easy to tell where one history leaves off and the other begins. The plaster fingers of colonial stucco cleave apart the of Incan granite throughout the city—and the mortar between them conjoins more than just walls, it serves to join histories both sacred and violent.

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Incan doorway within the Qoriqancha-Santo Domingo Convent

We took it easy soon after arriving in order to adjust to the altitude, as it’s around 3,400 m (11,200 ft) above sea level. We sipped tea and chewed coca leaves, sitting around the courtyard of the charming Hotel Tupac Yupanqui.