Posted on: June 06, 2021 Posted by: Riley Black Comments: 0

"Bienvenidos a la ciudad imperial del Cusco," announces the flight attendant when your plane touches down at a lofty 3,300 meters above sea level. "Welcome to the imperial city of Cusco." This greeting hints at what you're in for in Cusco, one of the world's great travel destinations.
The juxtaposition of cultures-Inca and Spanish colonial, but also modern-makes this city fascinating. This is a rare place where, if you take the time to sit and observe, you will see a culture that is going through a transformation in front of your very eyes. Where else can you see a child in traditional dress leading a llama on colonial streets while talking on a smartphone?
The area's rich history springs forth from the Inca tale that describes how Manco Capac and his sister-consort Mama Ocllo were sent by the Sun and Moon to enlighten the people of Peru. Setting off from Lake Titicaca sometime in the 12th century with the directive to settle only where their golden staff could be plunged fully into the soil, they traveled far across the altiplano(high plains) until reaching the fertile soils surrounding present-day Cusco. They envisioned Qosqo (Cusco) in the shape of a puma, the animal representation of the Earth in the indigenous cosmos, which you can still see today on city maps. But not all was Inca in southern Peru. Not far from Cusco sits Pikillacta, a pre-Inca city constructed by the Wari culture that thrived between AD 600 and 1000. It's an indication that this territory, like most of Peru, was the site of sophisticated civilizations long before the Inca appeared.
The Río Urubamba flows, at its closest, about 30 km (18 miles) north of Cusco and passes through a valley about 300 meters (980 feet) lower in elevation than Cusco. The northwestern part of this river basin, romantically labeled the Sacred Valley of the Inca, contains some of the region's most appealing towns and fascinating pre-Columbian ruins. A growing number of visitors are heading here directly upon arrival in Cusco to acclimatize. The valley's altitude is slightly lower and its temperatures are slightly higher, making for a physically easier introduction to this part of Peru.