Located in the southeastern part of the Andes,
Cusco is Perus main tourist destination and one
of the most important in the Americas. Known by
the Incas as the "home of gods Cusco became the
capital of one of the largest pre-Columbian
empires: the Tawantinsuyo. Its name in Quechua,
Qosqo means "Navel of the world, which derives
from when the city served as a hub for a vast
network of roads interconnecting virtually the
whole of South America, from the southern part
of present-day Colombia to the northern part of
what is now Argentina.
Furthermore, Cusco is also both a mestizo and
colonial city, with splendid churches and manors
built on foundations of elaborately carved stone.
The local cuisine is also something for the
traveler to look forward to, including superb
combinations of typical Andean foods, such as
corn, potatoes and chili pepper, with pork and
mutton introduced by the Spanish. With its vast
landscapes, rich history and fascinating
geography, Cusco is, without a doubt, something
all travelers long to experience.
LEGEND AND HISTORY
Although it was settled centuries before the
Incas arrived, it was only during the period of
Inca control (1438-1532 AD) that the Huatanay
River basin, upon which Cusco is built, reached
its peak as an administrative, religious and
military center. The origins 0f the city are
shrouded in myth and legends which tell the tale
of how the Inca empire came into being.
One of the most popular myths, from the
chronicles kept by the Inca Garcilaso de la
Vega, is that of a mythical couple, Manco Cpac
and Mama Ocllo, who emerged from the waters of
Lake Titicaca to found the city of Cusco and
teach its people how to cultivate the land. The
city was divided into two sectors: an upper area,
or Hanan, and a lower-lying area, or Hurin,
references to both the geographical position of
each area and the hierarchical position of their
inhabitants. Moreover, it is also said that the
outline of the first city had the shape of a
puma with a falcons head.
When the Spaniards arrived in 1533, many pre-Hispanic
structures were destroyed or used as foundations
for new structures, which included churches,
convents and mansions built in Baroque or
Renaissance styles. Since then, Cusco has become
one of the most representative expressions of
mestizo culture anywhere in the Americas.
LOCATION AND SURFAC
The city of Cusco is located at the central
and south-eastern zone of Peru, exactly at the
western part of the valley of the Watanay River.
The department has an area of 76,225 Km2, and
the area of the Province of Cusco amounts to 523
km2. Compared to the Peruvian territory
(1'285,215 Km2), Cusco represents the 5,9% of
Cusco comprises three large territory units that
can be read following the North-West-South-East
orientation of the department. These great
territory sections encompass High-Andean zones,
jungle areas within the department, and its
borders are only fixed by an interpretation of
general physiologic and climatic variables,
which are useful to understand the great
diversity of the Cusco space.
To the North, it is bounded by the jungle
areas of Junn and Ucayali; to the South, it is
bounded by the Southern area of Arequipa and
Puno; to the East, it borders on the large
Amazonian plain of Madre de Dios; and to the
West, it is bounded by the mountains of Apurmac
and Ayacucho's jungle. Recently, with the
regionalization process carried out in 1988, it
constitutes, together with the departments of
Madre de Dios and a part of Apurmac, the Inca
Cusco is located at approximately over 3,350
m.a.s.l., and it is considered as one of the
highest cities in the world.
LATITUDE AND LENGHT
The city is located at South latitude 13
30' 45" and at West latitude 71 58' 33" as of
the Greenwich Meridian.
Hour: The Peruvian hour is set at 5 h
after the GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) and it is
similar to the EST (Eastern Standard Time) of
the United States.
Reference Hours: When it is 12 at noon in
Peru, it is 13:00 hours in Santiago and Caracas;
in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires it is 14:00
hours; in New York it is 12:00 hours; and, in
Tokyo, it is 02:00 hours of the following day.
The weather is relatively fresh. The annual
average in the city goes from 10.3 and 11.3
Celsius (50.54 to 52.34 Fahrenheit). The
temperature is relatively stable during the
Summer and Winter. Usually, it is cold at night
and during the first morning hours the
temperature increases considerably until noon.
On June, the temperature frequently decreases
below zero to 5 and 7C (23 and 19.4F).
Cusco is under the macro-climatic influence of
great air masses originating from the South-Eastern
Jungle, the High Plateau, and even from the
distant region of La Patagonia. The winds from
the Southern Jungle involve large air masses
filled with humidity, which are impelled by the
Eastern Trade Winds.
The winds that come from the Peruvian-Bolivian
High Plateau are cold and dry, just like those
originating from La Patagonia, which are
supposed to involve larger events. These winds
enter through the South-Eastern zone.
On the other hand, the local winds generated at
the valleys and at Cusco plains aim at
distributing the heat and humidity during the
The seasons change during the year is not very
evident; but, generally, it is possible to
distinguish two well-defined seasons:
- the rain season, which goes from November to
March; and the dry season, which goes from April
to October. It has an average annual temperature
that fluctuates between 11C and 13C. During
the sunny days the temperature goes up to 20C.
RAIN: Cusco has a special weather due to
he height at which it is located as well as its
closeness to the Equator. There are just 2
well-defined seasons: a dry season and a rainy
one. The dry season goes from May to October and
the rainy season goes from November to April. In
general, the rain fluctuates between 600 to 800
mm. During the year it varies between 31.5 to
Warm Climates (humid and dry)
They correspond to the Low Jungle zones, both to
the North at the Low Urubamba, and to the East
part of the department at the entry to the
Valleys of Pillcopata and Araza.
Precipitations: More than 1,000 per year
Maximum: 30 approximately
Mean: Between 23 and 25
Minimum: 20 approximately
The warm and dry climates correspond to the Low
Yungas that appear, as canyons, at the basin of
the Apurmac River, at the center and Southwest
part of the department.
Precipitations: Less than 500 mm. per year
. Maximum: Up to 32
Mean: Between 17 and 18
Minimum: Up to 4.4
Mild Climates (humid and dry)
These are the climates from the interandean
valleys that domain the central zone of the
Cusco territory, where the humidity difference
is characterized by the location at the versant.
In other words, the closeness to the East
implies more humidity, whereas the proximity to
the West implies more dryness. The mild climate
zones are essential for the populations'
. Maximum: Up to 29
Mean: Between 11 and 16
Minimum: Between 7 and -4
They correspond mostly to the high areas of
valleys, "Punas" and regions surrounding the
glaciers; that is, in those areas above 3,800
. Maximum: Up to 10
Mean: They vary according to the height.
. Minimum: Below 0
HUMIDITY: At the lowest section of the
Cusco Valley there is an average annual humidity