InfoPeru (this is the National Tourism Information Service) located on Avenida El Sol.
To find it walk south of the Plaza de Armas, it is on the first block on the left hand side. If you get to the BCP bank (Banco de Credito de Peru) you have gone too far; go back about 20 meters!
DIRTUR (This is the Regional Tourism Office) it is located in Calle Mantas. If you are walking from the Plaza de Armas towards Plaza San Francisco, you will pass Avenida El Sol. You will find it on the left hand side, situated on the left of a shoe shop and a supermarket.
Both tourism offices in Cusco are able to provide helpful information, especially with any common inquiries. If you need “off the beaten track” type of information, you can try asking here – but depending on who is working that day will depend on how relevant the information might be!
Health and Safety
"Soroche", altitude sickness
Soroche affects many people during their first few days in Cusco
. Symptoms of altitude sickness include headaches, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, insomnia and shortness of breath.
To avoid "soroche"
, take it easy on the first day or two: avoid strenuous activities, eat light meals, reduce smoking and alcohol consumption and drink plenty of water and mate de coca
(a herbal tea made out of coca leaves often used by the locals to beat the effects of altitude, fatigue, stomach upsets and the list goes on!). Direct reactions to altitude sickness can last a few days. If it becomes serious, we would recommend that you visit a doctor.
This is a common problem that many foreigners face while visiting South America. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Avoid drinking tap water or eating uncooked vegetable to prevent this condition. However despite precautions more than half of all visitors get an upset stomach. If symptoms last more than a couple of days, we would recommend paying the doctor a visit!
Keep in mind that the sun is stronger at higher altitudes such as in Cusco. Cusco is located at 3, 400 meters (10 500 feet) which makes it very easy to get a sunburn, even when it is cloudy! Take extra precautions to avoid harmful sunrays: wear a hat and use sunscreen, and try not to spend too much time under direct sunlight.
Like every major tourist city, Cusco has a number of pick pockets. Cusco is relatively safe, but do take certain precautions and be aware of things going on around you. If something strange happens (e.g. a type of distraction such as something wet on your face or food on you, or a group of strange people greeting you like a long lost friend) secure your belongings first! This is not to scare you, but to encourage awareness! It is not suggested to carry purses, backpacks or large amounts of money. Some people prefer to carry a photocopy of their passport and leave the original in a safe at their accommodation. When possible, walk around with a couple of other people.
It is not recommended to walk around in some parts of the city after 9:30pm. Instead take registered taxis, call 222222 to have them pick you up at your accommodation or wherever you may be. Despite these precautions, if you or a friend is robbed, you should report it to the police.
You can exchange cash at any of the banks on Avenida El Sol or in a “Casa de Cambio” you can find several of these around the Plaza de Armas or in Avenida El Sol. To change traveler's checks go to a Casa de Cambio or the Banco de Crédito.
All ATM machines on Avenida El Sol generally give cash advances for all major credit cards, but check for your logo first!
Try to get small bills such as S/.10 or S/.20. It can be difficult to get change from most shops, restaurants and bars. If you have US dollars be sure the bills are impeccable, without rips or tears, otherwise they will not be accepted anywhere.
The post office
is at the end of Avenida El Sol, but many of the shops near the Plaza de Armas also sell stamps and have post boxes. Letters cost S/7.00 to Europe or Australia and S/5.00 to the United States. Mail usually arrives within 10-15 days.
Travellers can make long distance phone calls at many of the different Internet cafes. If you have access to a land line it is suggested to buy a phone card named “Hola Peru” as it will be a lot cheaper than using the internet café phones!
Cusco Public Transport
Cusco has an extensive and inexpensive public transport system that consists of a combination of taxi’s and combi’s (minivans). A ride in a taxi within the center of town will cost you just S/3.00, or S/4.00 after 10pm. If you choose to go in a combi expect to pay S/0.60. You can hail these from any of the frequently placed ‘paraderos’ (bus stops) and they will let you off at any of the paraderos along the route. The name of the route for the combi will be displayed on the front of the vehicle; you can also ask the doorman if they pass by the place that you wish to go.
Costs in Cusco
The following list gives you some indication of the cost of things during your stay in Cusco. Taxis $1.20; local transport $0.30; a set meal (called a “menu”) in a simple restaurant $ 2.50; a beer in a nightclub $2.40; a cappuccino in a trendy café/bar $1.90; international phone calls $3.00 per minute (use a phone card it is a lot cheaper!!); laundry service $1.20 per kilo; email service $0.80/hr.