Inca Kola and the quick buck in tourist central.

Trip Start Oct 06, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Peru  ,
Sunday, August 28, 2005

You should work very hard to find a more touristy place in South America than Cuzco (elevation 3326m), the Inca Capital. And I guess it makes sense. The city itself is beautiful, with tons of interesting stuff to see and do. And then it's also the gateway to a zillion other sites worth seeing. To name a few of the most famous ones, Machu Picchu and The Inca Trail, Sacsayhuaman, Sacred Valley of the Incas (including Pisac and Ollantaytambo), the Salcantay trek (also ending up at Machu Picchu, similar to the Inca Trail), the Choquequirau trek as well as Manu National Park, apparently one of the best places on the continent to see tropical wildlife. On top of that you have heaps of other adrenaline activities you can blow your budget on, including rafting, paragliding, mountain biking, climbing, bungee jumping, sling shots and a scary nightlife. Cuzco, a place you could easily stay for a few weeks without getting bored. If you can afford it and stand the hassle that is. Many locals and tourists think that all the tourists visiting have "ruined" Cuzco. Some people claim they even dislike the place, mainly because of all the hassle, beggars, ganja suppliers, thieves etc. I am not sure I agree with that, as I think it's still an incredibly beautiful city. Just try and smile and talk to all the shoe shiners, postcard sellers, souvenir vendors etc. And if you can help, do so (except the ganja guys), as they are only trying to make a living (I am sure life is quite a bit harder now for many locals who are not into tourism, because of the inflated prices). And then most of them are friendly and some even funny. Yesterday, when I told a local guy handing out flyers that I was from Norway, his immediate response was "Hva skjer'a Bagera...?". I found that hilarious.

I have only been here a couple of days, and haven't yet decided where and on what I will spend my money. Maybe I'll just spend it on Inca Kola (apparently there's only two countries in the world where they have a soft drink that's outselling Coca Cola. One is Peru with it's Inca Kola and the other is Scotland with it's Irn-Bru). I planned on going back to Machu Picchu (I was there three years ago), but I think I'll skip it for the following reasons:

- It's pretty expensive to go there.
- In my opinion, you need a couple of days to appreciate it properly (well, I guess I have the time).
- It was perfect and one of my most awesome experiences ever, when I visited in August 2002. I don't want to ruin (literally) that feeling, unless I of course find that special someone to share the moment with ;-)

I would have also liked to do The Inca Trail ending up at Machu Picchu (the last time I went to Machu Picchu, I went with the train), but it's getting incredibly busy. I have heard that The Inca Trail is now "pre-booked" until October/November timeframe. I find that pretty funny, as a couple of friends of mine did the Inca Trail back in 1998. Then you could do it on your own, without an agency, guides and porters. When I was in Cuzco in August 2002, you had to book a couple of days in advance to do the trek, while you now have to hang around for a couple of months for an available spot. Wonder what it will be like in a few years time??? So I guess I won't go back to Machu Picchu this time, unless I decide to do the spectacular Salcantay trek. Apparently it's harder than The Inca Trail, with climbs over 4800m high passes. We'll see, I may decide on the Choquequirau trek or Manu National Park instead. Can't afford all of them I think, or???
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