Cusco holds the claim as the oldest continuously inhabited city in South America. It is the foremost city of the Inca Empire with ornate cathedrals, cobblestone streets and Inca temple ruins. And it is the gateway to Machu Picchu which accounts for a constant throb of tourism and all of its attendant supporting commerce.
I have included “Part I” in the title for this article since we will be returning to Cusco after this initial visit. In addition, to Machu Picchu, Cusco serves as a hub for exploring many of the sites of interest in Southern Peru.
For our initial visit to Cusco, we took an overnight bus from Nazca. This provided quite a climate change from the dry arid desert at an elevation of 550 meters to the green verdant mountains at 3,326 meters.
Unfortunately, as soon as we arrived in Cusco we began to feel the effects of some sort of bug. This bug put us out of commission for our first 2 1/2 days there. Given that we already had booked train and entrance tickets for Machu Picchu, we could not extend our stay. But, as I said we will be back to Cusco very soon and have the opportunity to explore some of its many interesting sites and sights (such as the delightful sight above of groups of children in traditional dress practicing some of their folk dances around the central plaza.)