Our beta location which has been the birth location of MCE.
As you fly from Lima into the area of Peru known as the Sacred Valley, your friends will be envious of you if you are able to snag a window seat on the plane. Small foothills quickly develop into majestic snow- covered peaks, and sometimes you will see a small village situated in a valley or near a river.
Cusco probably began much like these small villages, with a few indigenous inhabitants, but the powerful Inca empire, the Spanish conquistadors, and an influx of over one million yearly visitors has made it into the growing city you find today. It’s tough to get an accurate statistic here in Peru, but it’s estimated that Cusco now has well over 500,000 people living in the city, and as mentioned be- fore, many times of the year it also welcomes many tourists.
Besides the beauty of the scenery, one of the first things you will probably notice when you exit the plane is the difference in altitude. Although Cusco is in a valley of the Andes mountains, it is situated at a height of 11,500 feet. People react differently to the altitude, but many just notice a little extra difficulty breathing or a quickened pace of heart for a few days. Whether or not you suffer from altitude sickness, it’s best for everyone to relax on their first day in Cusco and sip a few cups of mate de coca, or coca tea, which is a very good natural cure for altitude sickness, headaches, or even minor stomach problems.
The history of Cusco is full of interesting facts and stories. It was the center of the Inca empire and considered by many to be the center of the world. Qosqo, the original Quechua spelling, literally means “bellybutton”. The Spanish conquistadors, as many of you may remember from your history books, conquered the Incas.
The Andes run the entire length of South America, from the humid tropics of the Caribbean to the ice fields of Patagonia. The longest mountain range in the world, the Andes encompass a tremendous range of ecosystems and are home to a rich variety of plant and animal species and human communities.
With European colonization and the collapse of the Incan Empire, mountain areas not only lost their political and eco- nomic status, but also the transportation infrastructure throughout the mountain areas disappeared. Stone ruins lost for centuries have only recently come to light. Archaeological discoveries are now becoming a frequent event and an excit- ing time for the adventurous traveler now presents itself. The city of Cusco is nestled in a valley of the Central Andes, the heartland of the Andes indigenous people.
MCE Peru 2020
late summer to early fall 2020