CUSCO

GENERAL INFORMATION

Cusco is the oldest continuously inhabited city in America. It was the religious and administrative center of the immense Inca Empire. Those who came from the city were saluted with respect by those going to see it, and upon arrival people knelt and prayed for having the privilege of seeing Cusco.              

For the Incas, Cusco was the center of the world, and thus all the roads led to Cusco. Many of them can be still walked upon and some of them have been turned into the present highways. Because of the geographical features of the Vilcanota and the Urubamba valleys, and the presence of trails and Inca remains, this area provides some of the best trekking on the continent; not only snowcapped mountains, but also sub-tropical valleys and even jungle trips due to the proximity of the amazon basin to the city of Cusco.

Cusco lies at 3399 meters above sea level and is an excellent place to acclimatize before starting on any trek, because the city has all the facilities of modern life due to the increasing flow of tourism.

About 30 miles from Cusco is the Sacred Valley of the Incas, a fertile slash of green in the centre of the inhospitable Andes. The Valley is even now, a place of extraordinary peace and beauty, guarded at its two ends by the massive fortresses of Pisac and Ollantaytambo, it was the Incas’ granary, feeding both Cusco and the Lost City of Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu was clearly an extremely important city, strategically placed at the gateway between the Andes and the jungle, its position so well chosen, that there are still only two possible - and difficult - approaches, either along the Urubamba River or over the high passes of the Andes. The traditional Inca Trail was the ancient Inca highway that connected Cusco with Machu Picchu via the high Andean route. The actual route has been reconstructed from a series of old Inca paths, first along the river and then up into the cloud-forested mountainsides to join the main trail and descend into the Lost City on foot.

ALTITUDE

The Incas were mountain people; Cusco is located at about 10,656’/3,248m, which means some amount of altitude acclimatisation will be necessary for almost everyone. For that reason, maximising the use of vehicles and the amount of resting time during the first days, is the most effective way for the body to adjust to the change in atmospheric oxygen content and ambient pressure. Upon arrival in Cusco, some visitors may wish to try the locally recommended anti-altitude remedy, tea brewed from whole coca leaves. Almost all our clients pronounce it to be quite effective. Coca leaves act as a stimulant, not a narcotic; they are said to facilitate acclimatisation by dilating blood vessels, thereby enhancing blood and oxygen circulation, and also by regulating the heartbeat. Unprocessed coca leaves are not only perfectly legal in Peru, but also very common, brewed or chewed.

 

CLIMATE AND WEATHER

Our trekking are scheduled during the Andean dry season (winter in the Southern Hemisphere), which usually begins in April and runs through November. In Cusco itself at this time of year, the weather is usually sunny and warm most of the day, though clouds are common in the afternoons and occasional brief showers are always possible. Afternoon highs in Cusco average about 65ºF/18ºC, and night time lows about 35ºF/2ºC. Even though the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu are less than 100 miles from Cusco, they are in a warmer and moister climate zone. Clouds and fog are more common, and it can rain almost any time, especially at night, though rain is not usually a major problem during the dry season. At this latitude (only 13º from the equator), as between summer and winter there is much less difference in the length of daylight vs. darkness, and in seasonal temperatures, than temperate latitude people are used to. There are almost 12 hours of daylight even in mid-winter. The primary difference between seasons is that “summer” is mostly rainy and “winter” is mostly dry.

 

The following referential temperature and rainfall charts show the fluctuation along a typical year. Please note that due to climate changes temperature and rainfall expected may change sometimes.

 View Chart

MOUNTAINS IN CUSCO

VILCABAMBA RANGE

It is 100 km long, and raises between the Urubamba and the Apurimac rivers.

 

HIGHEST MOUNTAINS
MOUNTAIN HEIGHT
SALKANTAY 6271 m
HUMANTAY 5917 m
PUMASILLO 5994 m
LASUNAYOC 5907 m
SAKSARAYOC 5900 m

URUBAMBA RANGE (VERONICA OR YUCAY)

50 km long, to the North of Rio Urubamba

 

HIGHEST MOUNTAINS
MOUNTAIN HEIGHT
VERONICA 5750 m
SAHUASIRI 5720 m
GRAU 5650 m
CHICON 5500 m
SUNCHUBAMBA 5450 m

VILCANOTA RANGE

80 km long, to the North of Sibinacocha Lake

 

HIGHEST MOUNTAINS
MOUNTAIN HEIGHT
AUSANGATE 6,384 m
COYANGATE 6,160 m
COLQUECRUZ 6,111 m
JATUMPAMPA 6,094 m
YAYAMARI 6,000 m

THE INCA TRAIL TO MACHU PICCHU

SPECIAL REGULATIONS

  • The Inca Trail has a 500 persons limit per day, this includes tourists, guides, porters and all camping staff, due to this regulation the Inca Trail must be booked in advance in order to be able to confirm it, also please note that the only way to confirm the Inca Trail is by buying the entrance fees (for clients and all the staff involved), to buy this entrance fees we must have full names, passport numbers, birth dates, gender and nationalities of all passengers. Kindly note that this information could not be amended or changed after entrance fees have been bought. Due to these special regulations a 35% deposit of the Inca Trail package is requested when booking is placed. This deposit is non-refundable. We recommend to confirm the Inca Trail well in advance, due to the limited tickets sold daily and that this trek has a great demand so tickets are sold quickly.
  • To proceed with the Inca Trail booking it is mandatory to have the full name of the passengers, passport numbers, nationality and ages; without this information, we cannot buy the entrance fee.
  • The Inca Trail is closed, every year, during the month of February, due to maintenance works.

 

(NOTA: La autoridad del Santuario Histórico de Machu Picchu encargada del Camino Inca podría anunciar cambios los cuales estamos atentos y se comunicaran de inmediato a los actores involucrados.)

MAP OF CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY

MAP OF KM 82 PISCACUCHO

MAP OF INCA TRAIL

CROSS SECTION OF THE INCA TRAIL

CUSCO TREKKING ITINERARIES