Tag: Cusco Travel

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What Everyone's Buying in Cusco: Alpaca Fiber and Textiles

Where: Cusco, Peru
May 14, 2013 at 11:53 AM | by | Comments (0)

Welcome to "What Everyone's Buying," a new series on souvenirs, wherein we investigate what tourist trinkets are the hottest selling in hotspots around the world.

3000 BCE. That's how far back historians have been able to date preserved pieces of traditional Peruvian textiles. The vibrant colors, intricate weavings and completely unique designs (for each one!) make the fabrics of Peru popular the world over, and doesn't be surprised if planeloads of tourists at Cusco's airport are toting patterned bags or donning new ponchos made from the materials.

What you'll want to look for are garments made of alpaca fiber, ever rarer than cashmere and available in over 20 natural shades. Even Peruvian pima cotton is highly prized, and many fine linen shops in the tourist district will be happy to help part you from your money.

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How Dangerous Is It to Travel to Machu Picchu?

Where: Cusco, Peru
March 8, 2013 at 12:52 PM | by | Comments (0)

Airfares from the US to Lima, Peru have been shockingly low lately—we're talking $500 roundtrip on a route that's typically at least $800—and some of the reason is likely due to a (now lifted) travel warning from the US Embassy in Peru to Americans traveling in the Machu Picchu/Cusco area.

This week that warning ended, after a couple feared to have been kidnapped was actually found, happily traveling still, just through areas with no internet access. There is a rebel group (named Shining Path) still threatening the area in general, but the situation is once again safe for tourism.

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Win a Volunteer Vacation to the Peruvian Andes with Heifer International

Where: Peru
February 8, 2013 at 2:48 PM | by | Comments (0)

Heifer International, a nonprofit organization seeking to end hunger by partnering with farmers around the world, and Garnet Hill are giving one winner the chance to take the trip of a lifetime with their Pass on the Gift in Peru Sweepstakes.

The grand prize winner will take an all-inclusive trip for two to Cusco, where they'll spend 7 days taking part in Heifer’s local alpaca project to end poverty, in the nearby Andean region. The trip will also include guided tours exploring the local culture and a $1,000 Garnet Hill gift card.

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Foreign Grocery Friday: The Alpaca Meat of Peru

Where: Cusco, Peru
October 26, 2012 at 12:09 PM | by | Comments (0)


Alpaca as breakfast meat

When we travel, one of our favorite things to do is to pop into a local grocery store and check out the food products and candies we'd never find anywhere else. So we're trying out this new feature, Foreign Grocery Friday, where each week we'll feature some of our (and your) favorite overseas treats. Got a recommendation? Let us know!

If you're a regular reader of our Foreign Grocery Friday series, then you'll already be aware of the fact that we rarely shy away from trying local specialties, even when it comes to meats (see our review of kangaroo and conch). Where you'd normally see cows in America, you have alpaca in Peru, so it's no wonder alpaca meat replaces beef quite a bit. In Cusco alpaca is even favored over beef and, after eating it at breakfast and dinner, we totally understand why. It is tasty!

Note: Cusco also enjoys serving up "Cuy," which is guinea pig meat. Sadly we didn't have enough time to try it on this trip, focusing as we did on the alpaca meat.

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Riding the Hiram Bingham Orient-Express Train from Machu Picchu: Part 2

October 23, 2012 at 6:42 PM | by | Comments (0)

Talk about bucket list locations, Machu Picchu is up there (literally). The sacred Inca city high in the Andes mountains of Peru isn't an easy place to visit, but thousands head there every day for a glimpse at the archaeological site. Having just returned ourselves, all this week we'll give you the low-down on how to get to this high place.

The Jaunted Goes to Machu Picchu Series:

1. Flying into Cusco
2. Sorting out documents
3. Riding the Vistadome train
4. Riding the Hiram Bingham Orient-Express (Part 1 - the train)
5. Riding the Hiram Bingham Orient-Express (Part 2 - the dining & extras)
6. MACHU PICCHU

So you've been hiking Incan ruins all day, likely in the sun, and you've been fed finger sandwiches and teacakes until your stomach bulged...so the last thing you'd want to do is eat again, right? Wrong. The grueling daytrip of Cusco to Machu Picchu and back made us ravenous like no other and so, when it came time for a four-course meal and drinks onboard the Hiram Bingham Orient-Express train, "si" was the answer to every question asked by our waiter.

Si, keep the agua flowing (con gas, yummy).

Si, I'm having the steak.

Si, there's no way I'm skipping dessert.

Si si si after-dinner drinks in the bar car.

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Riding the Hiram Bingham Orient-Express Train from Machu Picchu: Part 1

October 22, 2012 at 1:05 PM | by | Comments (0)

Talk about bucket list locations, Machu Picchu is up there (literally). The sacred Inca city high in the Andes mountains of Peru isn't an easy place to visit, but thousands head there every day for a glimpse at the archaeological site. Having just returned ourselves, all this week we'll give you the low-down on how to get to this high place.

The Jaunted Goes to Machu Picchu Series:

1. Flying into Cusco
2. Sorting out documents
3. Riding the Vistadome train
4. Riding the Hiram Bingham Orient-Express (Part 1 - the train)
5. Riding the Hiram Bingham Orient-Express (Part 2 - the dining & extras)
6. MACHU PICCHU

The train is blue. Unlike its European cousins, the cars are not painted with "Orient-Express" down the sides, but "Hiram Bingham" in gold lettering.

What would Hiram himself, explorer/Yale professor/politician, think of this train that makes traversing such forbidding terrain look so easy? Hiram Bingham discovered the site of Machu Picchu in 1911 and worked to uncover and preserve it for study and, yes, tourism. Even the switchback road up to the ruins from the town of Aguas Calientes and the Urubamba River is named the Hiram Bingham Highway (though it's hardly a 'highway').

But before we digress on some History Channel-ish tangents, back to the train! A one-way ticket averages $329 per person, in high contrast to the Vistadome which runs $76 and the Expedition at $62. There are a few dining cars and one bar car with a lounge and rear observation area, complete with an open-air platform. The locomotive is also blue, though a lighter shade that's the signature of its operator: PeruRail.

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Foreign Grocery Friday: The Chicha Morada of Peru

Where: Cusco, Peru
October 19, 2012 at 2:27 PM | by | Comments (0)

When we travel, one of our favorite things to do is to pop into a local grocery store and check out the food products and candies we'd never find anywhere else. So we're trying out this new feature, Foreign Grocery Friday, where each week we'll feature some of our (and your) favorite overseas treats. Got a recommendation? Let us know!

A few weeks ago in Cusco, we talked a bit about discovering the city's ridiculously nice Starbucks. A few of our Twitter followers (you awesome people) quickly admonished us for hitting up an international chain rather than try a local drink, from a local place. Alas, that's always our plan! Starbucks was a momentary diversion for their free WiFi, but rest assured we guzzled our share of Chicha the rest of the time.

From Wikipedia we learn that chicha was used by the ancient Incas for rituals, including in Machu Picchu. In modern-day Peru, this fermented corn drink that usually occupies the same grocery shelf as Coca-Cola. Chicha Morada seems to be most ubiquitous; it's a purple corn version of chicha with a pineapple-limey zestiness and a clovey-cinnamony spice.

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Clickety-Clack Down the Track: Riding the Vistadome Train to Machu Picchu

October 18, 2012 at 11:35 AM | by | Comments (0)

Talk about bucket list locations, Machu Picchu is up there (literally). The sacred Inca city high in the Andes mountains of Peru isn't an easy place to visit, but thousands head there every day for a glimpse at the archaeological site. Having just returned ourselves, all this week we'll give you the low-down on how to get to this high place.

The Jaunted Goes to Machu Picchu Series:

1. Flying into Cusco
2. Sorting out documents
3. Riding the Vistadome train
4. Riding the Hiram Bingham Orient-Express (Part 1 - the train)
5. Riding the Hiram Bingham Orient-Express (Part 2 - the dining & extras)
6. MACHU PICCHU

You've got options. What train to take to Machu Picchu? There are three choices: the Expedition (cheapest, minimal), the Vistadome (affordable, comfortable), and the Hiram Bingham Orient-Express (pricey, but over-the-top luxurious). Booking a Machu Picchu trip on your own versus with a tour company means you've got the option to mix it up and try different trains. Here, we focus on the Vistadome.

It's far from a high-speed journey. The train trip takes 4 hours and averages $76 per person each way (bookable online at PeruRail), so turning Machu Picchu into a day trip from Cusco is doable (it's what we did!), but brace yourself to be utterly exhausted on the return and, well, pretty much over riding trains for a little bit.

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The Paper Trail to Machu Picchu: Necessary Documents and Tickets

Where: Cusco, Peru
October 16, 2012 at 12:35 PM | by | Comment (1)

Talk about bucket list locations, Machu Picchu is up there (literally). The sacred Inca city high in the Andes mountains of Peru isn't an easy place to visit, but thousands head there every day for a glimpse at the archaeological site. Having just returned ourselves, all this week we'll give you the low-down on how to get to this high place.

The Jaunted Goes to Machu Picchu Series:

1. Flying into Cusco
2. Sorting out documents
3. Riding the Vistadome train
4. Riding the Hiram Bingham Orient-Express (Part 1 - the train)
5. Riding the Hiram Bingham Orient-Express (Part 2 - the dining & extras)
6. MACHU PICCHU

Despite the difficulty of reaching Machu Picchu, visitors pack into trains and buses to swarm the site. This has recently been calmed a bit with the introduction of a daily limit of 2,500 visitors. The way to ensure you're in that 2,500 is by reserving your Machu Picchu entrance in advance and paying the admission fee to score the needed ticket. Once you have that, you're all good. Buy your train tickets (but it's wise to check availability of these on your preferred day before reserving the site entrance). It's not as confusing as guidebooks would have you think.**

Here's six documents you should have in hand:

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Foreign Grocery Friday: The Sweet Cucumbers of Peru

Where: Cusco, Peru
October 12, 2012 at 12:26 PM | by | Comments (0)

When we travel, one of our favorite things to do is to pop into a local grocery store and check out the food products and candies we'd never find anywhere else. So we're trying out this new feature, Foreign Grocery Friday, where each week we'll feature some of our (and your) favorite overseas treats. Got a recommendation? Let us know!

Though it's mostly pre-packaged foreign snack foods and beverages that boggle the brain, every so often we'll pass a produce cart and pick up some fruit or vegetable that has never before made it onto our plate. Last time this happened was with the Salak of Southeast Asia. This time, it's on another continent entirely and at the foot of the Andes, in Cusco, Peru. The mystery orb? A sweet cucumber.

Holding it in hand, you'd never guess this to be named cucumber anything. Its looks are closer to a tomato mated with a beach ball. In fact it goes by other names we find more fitting, including "pepino melon" and "mellowfruit." A sister fruit that seems to be found on the US west coast is the "lemon cucumber. Yum!

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Up and Over the Andes: Flying TACA from Lima to Cusco, Peru

Where: Cusco, Peru
October 3, 2012 at 4:41 PM | by | Comments (0)


The Embraer-190 at Cusco Airport

The Jaunted Goes to Machu Picchu Series:

1. Flying into Cusco
2. Sorting out documents
3. Riding the Vistadome train
4. Riding the Hiram Bingham Orient-Express (Part 1 - the train)
5. Riding the Hiram Bingham Orient-Express (Part 2 - the dining & extras)
6. MACHU PICCHU

One week to kill in Lima, Peru. This is what happens when you book reward flights and take whatever availability. We'd learned that lesson already. Friends who'd been to Lima before advised us to get out—one week was plenty time for a side trip of several days to bucket list destinations like Machu Picchu or Colca Canyon. And so, Machu Picchu it was, but first we'd have to get our butt over to the city of Cusco.

The quick decision meant we had done little pre-planning and, searching flights from Lima to Cusco and back, the prices were already rocketing. The eventual winner, after searching LAN, TACA and StarPeru, was TACA. We went with TACA for three big reasons:
1. For the roundtrip price ($331.96 total), competitive with the other airlines at the time of booking, we could fly Biz Class on TACA.
2. We'd never flown 'em and were curious
3. We're Star Alliance Gold status and TACA is a member of the alliance.

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Where There are Tourists, There are Starbucks. (Even in Cusco, Peru)

Where: Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
September 18, 2012 at 10:02 AM | by | Comments (0)

Normally we don't endorse spending time in a foreign city within the familiar, American environs of a Starbucks, but sometimes a traveler just needs reliable WiFi and an easy meeting place. Yesterday, we found this to be the case for us on our very first day in Cusco, Peru. Seeing as how we kinda "collect" exotic Starbucks locations (remember the Bali temple location?), this one we had to see.

Located right on Cusco's main Plaza de Armas, it occupies the second floor of a historic palacio. The walls to divide it into seperate rooms are still there, so it's a second floor location with a ton of work nooks, comfy seating, exposed wood beam ceilings and wood floors, and even a balcony open to views of the Plaza and Catedral.

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