WORLD LATIN AMERICA PERU CUSCO

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Cusco, Peru Hotels and City Guide

Cusco Hotels and Cusco Guide with Cusco maps, top attractions, room reservations and hotel deals at a wide range of the best Cusco hotels

Cusco - Travel Tips

Climate


Of all the visitors to Peru, 67% go to Cusco and 62% to Machu Picchu. There is no time of year when you will have the place to yourself. Having said that, Peru's high season is from June to September and at that time, Cusco is bursting at the seams. This also happens to be the time of year which enjoys the most stable weather for hiking the Inca Trail or trekking and climbing elsewhere. The days are generally clear and sunny, though nights can be very cold at high altitude. The highlands can be visited at other times of the year, though during the wettest months from November to April some roads become impassable and hiking trails can be very muddy. April and May, at the tail end of the highland rainy season, is a beautiful time to see the Peruvian Andes, but the rain may linger, so be prepared.

On the coast, the summer months are from December to April. If you arrive in Lima between May to October you will find the area covered with what's known locally as la garúa, a thick blanket of cloud and mist. As your plane heads towards Cusco in la garúa season, you will soon be into clear skies and the mountains below can be seen rising like a new coastline out of the sea of fog. The best time to visit the jungle is during the dry season, from April to October. During the wet season, November to April, it is oppressively hot (40°C and above) and while it only rains for a few hours at a time, which is not enough to spoil your trip, it is enough to make some roads virtually impassable.



Festivals


At any given time of the year there'll be a festival somewhere in the country, at which time even the sleepiest little town or village is transformed into a raucous mixture of drinking, dancing and water throwing (or worse). Not all festivals end up as choreographed drunken riots, however. Some are solemn and ornate holy processions. But they all draw people from miles around.



Two of the major festival dates are Carnaval, which is held over the weekend before Ash Wednesday, and Semana Santa (Holy Week), which ends on Easter Sunday. Carnaval is celebrated in most of the Andes and Semana Santa throughout most of Peru. Accommodation and transport is heavily booked at these times and prices rise.



Another important festival is Fiesta de la Cruz, held on the first of May in much of the central and southern highlands and on the coast. In Cusco, the entire month of June is one huge fiesta, culminating in Inti Raymi, on 24 June, one of Peru's prime tourist attractions. Accommodation can be very hard to find at this time in the area.

The two main festivals in Lima are Santa Rosa de Lima, on 30 August, and Señor de los Milagros, held on several dates throughout October. Another national festival is Todos los Santos (All Saints) on 1 November, and on 8 December is Festividad de la Inmaculada Concepción.



Holidays


Aside from the festivals listed above, the main holidays are: 1 January, New Year; 6 January, Bajada de Reyes; 1 May, Labour Day; 28-29 July, Independence (Fiestas Patrias); 7 October, Battle of Angamos; 24-25 December, Navidad.



Most businesses such as banks, airline offices and tourist agencies close for the official holidays while supermarkets and street markets may be open. This depends a lot on where you are so ask around before the holiday. Sometimes holidays that fall during mid-week will be moved to the following Monday. Find out what the local customs and events are. Often there are parades, processions, special types of food or certain traditions (like yellow underwear at New Year's) that characterize the event. The high season for foreign tourism in Peru is June to September while national tourism peaks on certain holidays, Navidad, Semana Santa and Fiestas Patrias. Prices rise and accommodation and bus tickets are harder to come by. If you know when you will be travelling buy your ticket in advance.

Visas


No visa is necessary for countries of Western Europe, Asia, North or South America or citizens of Australia, New Zealand or South Africa. Travellers from India do need visas. Tourist cards are obtained on flights arriving in Peru or at border crossings. The tourist card allows you up to a maximum of 90 days in Peru. The form is in duplicate and you give up the original on arrival and the copy on departure. This means you need to keep the copy as you will need to give it to the officials when you leave. A new tourist card is issued on re-entry to Peru but extensions are obtained with your current tourist card so you just take it and your passport to immigration when asking for extensions. Tourist visas for citizens of countries not listed above cost US$13.70 or equivalent, for which you require a valid passport, a departure ticket from Peru, two colour passport photos, one application form and proof of economic solvency. All foreigners should be able to produce on demand some recognizable means of identification, preferably a passport.


Money:

The Nuevo Sol (New Sol, S/.) is the official currency of Peru. It is divided in 100 céntimos (cents) with coins valued at S/.5, S/.2, S/.1 and 50, 20, 10 and 5 céntimo pieces, although the latter is being phased out as it is virtually worthless. Notes in circulation are S/.200, S/.100, S/.50, S/.20 and S/.10. It is difficult to get change in shops and museums and sometimes impossible from street vendors or cab drivers. Prices of airline tickets, tour agency services, non-backpacker hotels and hostels, among others, are almost always quoted in dollars. You can pay in soles or dollars but it is generally easiest to pay dollars when the price is in dollars, and in soles when the price is in soles.



Credit cards


Visa (by far the most widely-accepted card in Peru), MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club are all valid. There is often an 8-12% commission for all credit card transactions. Often, it is cheaper to use your credit card to get money (dollars or soles) out of an ATM rather than to pay for your purchases. Of course, this depends on your interest rate for cash advances on your credit cards - ask your bank or card provider about this. Another option is to put extra money on your credit cards and use them as a bank card. Credit cards are not commonly accepted in smaller towns so go prepared with cash.



Exchange


The US dollar is the only currency which should be brought from abroad (take some small bills). Other currencies carry high commission fees. There are no restrictions on foreign exchange. Some banks charge commission, from 1-3%, some don't, and practice seems to vary from branch to branch, month to month. Changing dollars at a bank always gives a lower rate than with cambistas (street changers) or casas de cambio (exchange houses). Always count your money in the presence of the cashier. For changing small amounts of dollars, the less discreet street changers give the best rates, but you should take care: check your soles before handing over your dollars, check their calculators, etc, and don't change money in crowded areas. American Express will sell travellers' cheques to cardholders only, but will not exchange cheques into cash. Most of the main banks accept American Express travellers' cheques. Travellers have reported great difficulty in cashing travellers' cheques in the jungle and other remote areas.



Cost of living and travelling


In most of Peru, living costs in the provinces are from 20% to 50% below those in Lima, but Cusco is a little more expensive than other, less touristy provincial cities. For a lot of low income Peruvians, many items are simply beyond their reach. In 2001, the approximate budget was US$30-35 per person a day for living comfortably, including transport, or about US$15 a day for low-budget travel.



Health:


For anyone travelling overseas health is a key consideration. With the following advice and sensible precautions the visitor to Peru should remain as healthy as at home. Most visitors return home having experienced no problems at all apart from some travellers' diarrhoea. There are English (or other foreign language) speaking doctors in Cusco and Lima who have particular experience in dealing with locally-occurring diseases, but don't expect good facilities away from the major centres. Your Embassy representative will often be able to give you the name of local reputable doctors and most of the better hotels have a doctor on standby. If you do fall ill and cannot find a recommended doctor, try the Outpatient Department of a hospital - private hospitals are usually less crowded and offer a more acceptable standard of care to foreigners.Before travelling take out medical insurance. Make sure it covers all eventualities especially evacuation to your home country by a medically equipped plane, if necessary. Check the current practice in countries you are visiting for malaria prophylaxis (prevention).There is very little control on the sale of drugs and medicines in Peru. You can buy any and every drug in pharmacies without a prescription. Be wary of this because pharmacists can be poorly trained and might sell you drugs that are unsuitable, dangerous or old. Always consult your doctor before travelling.



Vaccinations


Smallpox vaccination is no longer required anywhere in the world. Neither is cholera vaccination recognized as necessary for international travel by the World Health Organization - it is not very effective either. Nevertheless, some immigration officials are demanding proof of vaccination following the outbreak of the disease which originated in Peru in 1990-91 and subsequently affected most surrounding countries.

The following vaccinations are also recommended: Yellow Fever; Typhoid A; Poliomyelitis; Tetanus; Hepatitis B; Infectious Hepatitis. Other vaccinations may be considered in the case of epidemics, eg meningitis. There is an effective vaccination against rabies that should be considered by all travellers, especially those going through remote areas or if there is a particular occupational risk.

Where To Stay

Cusco is full of excellent value hotels throughout the price ranges and finding a hotel room to suit your budget should not present any problems. The exception to this is during the Christmas and Easter holiday periods, Carnival, in June and Independence celebrations at the end of July, when all hotels seem to be crowded. It's advisable to book in advance at these times and during school holidays and local festivals. Accommodation, as with everything else, is more expensive in Lima, where good budget hotels are few and far between and, therefore, tend to be busy. Remote jungle towns such as Puerto Maldonado tend to be more expensive than the norm. And if you want a room with air conditioning expect to pay around 30% extra.

All hotels and restaurants in the upper price brackets charge 18% state tax and 10% service on top of prices (neither is included in prices given in the accommodation listings, unless specified). The more expensive hotels also charge in dollars according to the parallel rate of exchange at midnight. Most lower grade hotels only charge the 18% IGV but some may include a service charge.

By law all places that offer accommodation now have a plaque outside bearing the letters H (Hotel), Hs (Hostal), HR (Hotel Residencial) or P (Pensión) according to type. A hotel has 51 rooms or more, a hostal 50 or fewer, but the categories do not describe quality or facilities. Generally speaking a pensión or hospedaje will be cheaper than a hotel or hostal. Most mid-range hotels have their own restaurants serving lunch and dinner, as well as breakfast. Few budget places have this facility, though many now serve breakfast. Most places are friendly and helpful, irrespective of the price, particularly smaller pensiones and hospedajes, which are often family-run and will treat you as another member of the family. Cheaper places don't always supply soap, towels and toilet paper. In colder (higher) regions they may not supply enough blankets, so take your own or a sleeping bag.





Hotels in Cusco, Peru

Belmond Hotel Monasterio

Belmond Hotel Monasterio

Calle Palacio #140, Cusco, Peru

Built as a monastery in 1592, Hotel Monasterio retains the charm and ambience that has existed for centuries whilst boasting a reputation as one of the world's finest hotels




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Belmond Sanctuary Lodge

Belmond Sanctuary Lodge

Machu Picchu, Cusco, Per

Offering luxury accommodation, simply composed Peruvian cuisine with delightful little touches




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Best Western Los Andes De America

Best Western Los Andes De America

CALLE GARCILASO 150, Cusco, 00000, Peru

The Best Western Los Andes de America is a unique combination of modern hotel infrastructure and colonial architecture. Located in the heart of the city of Cuzco, where the shadow of its ancestors roams its mysterious streets and monuments. We are in the center of the...




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Novotel Cusco

Novotel Cusco

San Augustin 239 -, Esquina Pasaje Santa Monica, 0 Cusco, Peru

Hotel IntroductionLocated in the heart of the city center, close to Plaza de Armas, cathedral and Inca museum. Near airport and starting point for the ruins of Machu Picchu. 99 rooms built around an early 16th century house, featuring one restaurant and...




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Sonesta Posada Del Inca Cusco

Sonesta Posada Del Inca Cusco

Portal Espinar 108, Cusco, Peru

Guest rooms are equipped with cable TV, heating, international phone access, desks and views of the city. Some have traditional Spanish colonial balconies. Hotel amenities include Business Center with Internet access| Room Service| Currency Exchange| Gift Shop| Sightseeing... more
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