Cold Cusco…on the way to Machu Picchu

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Three days ago I took a 12 hour bus journey to Bogota, Colombia’s capital city. Bogota has a population of around 9m and is a typical modern city by western standards. Although there are poorer and more dangerous areas in the south of the city, the north and the centre are busy and bustling with businessmen and beautiful buildings.

Unfortunately I did not spend much time in Bogota as I had a flight to catch at 9pm the same day I arrived and I therefore feel I cannot do it much justice­­­­. What I did see however, has convinced me that Bogota is definitely worth another look.

So, after not much sleep, a brutal 12 hour bus journey and a 10 hour layover in Lima, I was finally en route to Cusco, previously the capital of the Inca Empire and South America’s oldest continuously inhabited city.

One thing that struck me as soon as I stepped off the plane was that Cusco…is cold. Having been used to the usually warm tropical climates in Colombia, this came as a slight shock. It was pretty much on par with Scotland, and apparently it is summer here…it even started hail-stoning at one point.

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Weather aside, it’s difficult not to be taken aback by the amazing architecture in the city. Grandiose buildings line the main square (Plaza de Armas) and there are many Quechua-speaking descendants of the Incas in and around the centre of the city.

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Although, in all honestly, as much as Cusco’s history and remaining historical sites are awe-inspiring, I find the city rather monotonous due to the thousands of tourists (of which I am one I realise) wandering through the much trodden cobbled streets waiting to get to Machu Picchu. The incredible buildings in Plaza de Armas are now cramped between international fast food chains and coffee houses, ultimately taking away from some of the authenticity of this ancient city.

This said however, Cusco’s charm and history will be extremely challenging to crush, if not almost impossible. So if you can overlook all the commercialisation, Cusco will certainly win you over.

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