Cusco, Peru – at Night (07.09.14)
Cusco, the spiritual capital and traditional heart of yesteryear’s mighty Inca Empire, is breathtaking – for its magnificent 3,400m elevation as much as for its impressive array of cultural exhibits, indigenous spiritualism and infectious energy.
It is one of Nomadic Thoughts’ favourite cities. Not only for the myriad of historical wonders stretching back to pre-Inca Killke times (900-1200), but also for its vibrancy and intimacy. Visitors today can explore, relax, wine, dine and party amid some of the region’s most exciting Inca and Conquistador Spanish sites. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, it has also consistently been voted one of our clients’ favourite cities over the years.
Remaining close to our hearts for over two decades, Cusco is a destination we urge clients to spend as much time in as possible. It serves not only as a perfect place to rest travel weary legs (and lungs), but also a modern Peruvian town worth getting under the skin of. On arrival you will fall under its spell, as the uber-relaxed, non-hassle ambiance quickly becomes all embracing.
Before the visitor even begins to take in the surrounding Andean mountains, jaw-dropping Urubamba Valley and lost city of the Incas (Machu Picchu), the sense of being at home in Cusco takes over. The maze of cobbled streets offers everything from world famous museums and charming boutique hotels, to world class restaurants and bohemian bar culture. Indeed, when based within the Old Town of Cusco you are in walking distance of everything traditional, historical and essential. If the legs get tired a few sol/dollars in a cab will whisk you on to your next destination at the whim of an outstretched arm.
I was lucky to spend ten days in Cusco recently with my family and one of our oldest family friends, Dante Concha (married to Caroline – who many of you will know is my longest standing friend and colleague at Nomadic Thoughts). Dante, born and bred in Cusco, has seen the city develop over the years into one of Latin America’s most lively and welcoming of international metropolises. Dante was famous as one of Cusco’s most respected musicians in the 1980s, before becoming one of Europe’s most recognised Andean flute and pipe players (Apu & Amaru II) in the 1990s. He continues to extol the virtues of Cusco’s pioneering music scene.
Whether following in the shadow of his music vibe or exploring the many exciting sights and sounds of Cusco during the day, I always find the city at its most enthralling during twilight and night time. The famous cobbled streets, laid by the Spanish from sacred Inca stone, take on an extra shine under the gently lit street lamps, which also soften classic buildings with enormous Inca foundations. The faraway lights of local houses, climbing up the surrounding mountains, twinkle in the distance, while the closer, historical pre-Columbian buildings in the centre of town stand guard over an immaculately well-preserved city centre below.
I hope that these images, all of which I took during my recent visit, inspire you to get both the map and diary out for a visit. The surreal statue of Christ at twilight, high above the city near the walled complex of Saksaywaman, appears to be spellbound by the view of Plaza de Armas and Cusco below, just as you will be, once you have settled in, found your bearings and begun to wander freely through the extensive maze of beautiful streets.
Planned and built in the effigy of a sacred puma, this city is as much fun at night for a sightseeing tourist, as it is for those interested in bar-hopping partying.