It didn’t take long for us to fall in love with Peru! We crossed the border from Bolivia to Peru at Lake Titicaca. The first stop, Puno, was as gritty as we had been told, but the historic center was charming enough to spend a couple of days.
We then rushed to Cuzco in order to make sure we’d be able to trek to Machu Picchu before the trails close for their annual maintenance work at the end of this month.
In Cuzco it was love at first sight! The Capital of the Inca Empire, the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 to preserve the unique mix of Inca culture, Spanish-colonial influences and remnants of the Killke, who populated the area prior to the Incas.
The city is a wonderland for history buffs, the incredible Andean mountains surrounding the city are a paradise for trekkers and the infrastructure here makes it comfortable for tourist from all walks of life.
Cuzco itself is one of the prettiest cities we’ve seen in South America so far: the magnificent Plaza De Armas, impressive churches and beautiful little plazas all over town. Every time we walk a new street, we are amazed by the architecture, the ornate wooden balconies or the massive rocks used by the Inca to construct their palaces and houses.
Our favorite neighborhood is San Blas, which sits in a picturesque setting perched on a hillside in the northeastern part of town. The neighborhood is stacked up on narrow, steep streets with centuries’ old cobblestone streets. No two streets are alike. The colorful doors and ornate wooden balconies make each house unique, too. Climbing seemingly never ending series of steps can make you short of breath, especially at this altitude, but the higher you climb, the more you are rewarded with beautiful views of Cuzco below.