The city of Cusco

Cusco is an enjoyable city to stay during your internship. In Cusco you will find a pleasant mix of the local people of Cusco, travelers and immigrants from all over the world. This provides Cusco with a dynamic and modern character, a unique combination with the authentic appearance of the city. Furthermore there is an enormous diversity of restaurants, shops and bars, all of the important facilities are present.

cusco city

Cusco is a city in south-eastern Peru in the Andes Mountains. The city is located in a valley at an altitude 11,000 feet or 3400 meters above sea-level. Cusco has a population of 422,500 (2013). The historical center of the city is UNESCO world heritage and a major tourist attraction that attracts about 2 million visitors a year.

Cusco is famous for being the historic capital of the Inca Empire and is also known as the archaeological capital of the Americas. Staying in Cusco gives you easy access to old Inca ruins and the impressive culture of the Incas, in the city center as well as the surrounding area. The exciting and dynamic city center was built by the Spaniards on rests of Inca temples and palaces and is nowadays even more crowded and lively as it was in the heydays of the Inca empire. Relax on one of the many beautiful squares of Cusco, visit the traditional Peruvian markets or walk around in the picturesque San Blas district.

Cusco is surrounded by impressive archaeological sites like the citadel of Machu Picchu, the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, the old Inca city Ollantaytambo and picturesque cities like Pisaq, Calca and Yucay, which still guard the traditions of their ancestors. Cusco is also the operating base for the famous Inca trail, a four day trail over an old Inca path alongside ruins ending in Machu Picchu.

cusco historic center

Transport

Normally you will take public transport to get to your work as an intern. With public transport the journeys will be about 10 to 20 minutes while all apartments, guest families and most internships are located in the middle of the city while the center of the city is located in the north of Cusco. The public transport in Cusco is provided by so called combi´s, minivans that cross the city for only 0,70 nuevo soles (about $0.26). Most people in Cusco do not have a car or drivers licence and therefore depend on public transport and taxi´s. In Cusco it is completely normal to take a taxi all the time. A taxi is a quicker and more convenient way to travel and there is always one nearby. A short taxi ride costs 3 soles ($ 1.10).

cusco center

Altitude

Cusco is located in a valley about 11,000 feet or 3400 meter above sea-level. The first days after arrival in Cusco you will definitely notice the difference. You have less energy, your heart beats faster like during exercise while you’re just walking and you may have a light headache. The reaction to the attitude strongly depends on the person; most people only have slight discomfort while very few people really get ill. This does not depend on gender, age or fitness, simply the capability of your body to adjust to the change of height and lack of oxygen. A good tip is to try to avoid arriving in Cusco tired. The combination of a jetlag and the change of altitude can add up. Coming from another time zone after a long flight, it can be wise to stay in Lima for one or two nights.

Safety

Cusco is a relatively safe city. It may not be like the safer parts of North America or western Europe, but during the day it is perfectly safe to go out on the streets alone anywhere in the city. Across the city and especially in the touristic center there is a lot of (tourist) police. Also in the evening it is safe to walk in the center, but during the night you should take a taxi.

Nightlife

Cusco´s nightlife is one of the most famous scenes found anywhere in Latin America, with many nightclubs, restaurants and bars. Cusco comes to live at night with the sounds, sights and experiences of a fascinating metropolis. Cusco’s nightlife is so famous throughout Latin America, it has often been the reason for many tourists to come to Cusco in the first place.

The nightlife scene revolves mainly around the Plaza de Armas. Here you can party the whole night long in clubs and there are a lot of bars to start the evening. Besides that Cusco offers salsa lessons, many live performances or late night theater. The nightlife of Cusco is a great place to meet other tourists, to chat with friends in one of Cusco's many bars and to experience the passion of the Peruvians on the dance floor!

Most bars are open until 2am and have happy hour before midnight when you get 2 for 1 cocktails. Clubs normally close around 5am. There are plenty of them around the main plaza so try hopping from club to club to see which is best for you. Clubs are crowded 7 nights a week!

A selection of alcoholic beverages is offered besides a wide range of cocktails, different kinds of beer and of course the traditional Peruvian drink pisco sour. In most bars and clubs the local beer of Cusco “Cerveza Cusqueña” is served which is often considered the best beer of Peru. Besides that the locals love their rum-cola which they call cuba libre.

Some of the most popular clubs are:

• Mythology
• Las Vegas
• Inca Team
• The Temple
• Ukukus
• Mama Africa

Food

Food is the most important thing in life for Peruvian people and the people in Cusco are no exception. The first thing people spend money on is food and preferably a lot of it! Many people eat daily in one of the thousands of small local restaurants where they eat the daily menu for a really small price.

During your internship in Peru, you must try some of the traditional dishes like butifarra (sandwich with pork meat and vegetables), chicharrón (fried pork meat often served with potatoes and garnish), lomo saltado (strips of steak with soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, chillies, onions and tomatoes served with potatoes and/or rice) or ceviche (dish with chunks of raw white fish, normally sea bass). A traditional dish which many people would consider unusual is guinea pig, locally known as cuy. From Cusco you can go to Tipon, a village nearby where they are specialized in preparing cuy, to try this Peruvian specialty.

Peruvian food

Next to the traditional food there is a range of different cuisines like Asian (Japanese, Korean and especially Chinese food), grill restaurants and pizzerias. The touristic restaurants can be relatively expensive, about 25-40 soles($9,35-$15) for a main course. In most restaurants in the touristic center an average main course is about 10 soles. If you are on a budget you can go to one of the many restaurants that offer a set daily menu with starter, main dish, a drink and sometimes a dessert. These menus range from roughly 2,5 soles in very local restaurants outside the center to 15 soles ($0,90-$5,60). Experience tells that for 6 to 8 soles you can get a really good meal.

Extreme sports

Are you an adventurous person? In that case you should definitively come to Cusco! In Cusco you have many possibilities to do extreme sports like rafting, mountain biking, bungee jumping, mountain climbing, paragliding (parapente), hiking, horseback riding and more! All of this in the impressive setting of the Andes in and around Cusco.

Cusco rafting
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