Fly To Cusco, Peru
Cusco (also spelled Cuzco), in southeastern Peru, was the site of the capital of the once mighty Inca empire. Because of its proximity to Machu Picchu, the Inca citadel situated on an isolated mountain top, today Cusco is one of the most important tourist thoroughfares in Peru, and receives almost two million visitors annually. In 1983 it was declared a World Heritage Site and since the 1990s tourism has steadily increased.
Peru Visa Requirements
- South African citizens travelling to Cusco do not require a Visa for Peru for a stay of up to 183 days. Ensure your South African passport has at least 6 months remaining on it from your return date and that you have at least 2 blank pages available for stamps.
See and do
Most tourists travel to Cusco to see the lost city of Machu Picchu, the most spectacular archeological site in South America, discovered in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. There are various companies that offer mountain biking and jungle trekking tours to Machu Picchu, although some tours are also suitable for families, with children’s bikes available. Quite a few tourist companies offer family homestay, with Spanish lessons as part of the deal.
While Machu Picchu is no doubt impressive, there are quite a few other sites of interest. The ruins of the Temple of Qorikancha are definitely worth a visit. In Inca times, the Temple of Qorikancha (meaning “Golden Courtyard”) was literally covered with gold; today all that remains is the masterful stonework.
Next to Qorikancha is the Iglesia de Santo Domingo, with the remains of an Incan temple inside its cloister. In the courtyard colonial paintings depict the life of Santo Domingo. The Iglesia San Francisco also has a large collection of religious colonial paintings, and houses what is said to be the largest painting in South America, showing the family tree of St Francis of Assisi.
The Cusco Planetarium teaches visitors about the Inca worldview. The Incas were serious about the study of astronomy, and some of Cusco’s streets are designed to align with the stars at certain times of the year.
Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport – CUZ
Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport operates at limited capacity owing to its precarious proximity to the city centre of Cusco. Because of the high altitude of Cusco and the resulting thin air, aircraft have to use more runway length to ascend. Bad weather conditions often cause flights to be cancelled or postponed for up to two days.
Despite this, the airport is Peru’s second busiest, handling more than a million passengers annually. There are good facilities at the airport, including shops and a few restaurants. It is best to use the unofficial cabs to and from the airport, rather than the more expensive taxis.