Cusco, Peru: Breathe In, Breathe Out

plaza de armas cusco
The Plaza de Armas in Cusco.

Perched 11,000 feet up in the Andes, Cusco took my breath away — quite literally. The town is notorious for felling tourists with altitude sickness, but I was prepared: I arrived in town armed with a prescription for Diamox and an inhaler. Plus, our lovely hotel was kind enough to provide steaming cocoa leaf tea for consumption.

Sure, I was winded by the simplest of climbs, but I wasn’t sick — a win! That said, as I huffed and puffed my way around town, I couldn’t help but give the side eye to the scores of travelers prancing about, gulping down great glasses of wine, seemingly without a care for the altitude.

I’d have sighed, but I was conserving my oxygen intake.

I’d heard tales of how captivating Cusco is, and the stories resonated. Tucked amidst dramatic mountain peaks, Cusco’s red tile roofs, cobbled streets and colonial architecture leave most travelers smitten — I was no exception.

Wander the Plaza de Armas, take a trip up to see the knock-off Christ the Redeemer statue (coined “White Jesus” here), and enjoy the many, many churches, convents and museums dotted throughout the town.

Some of Cusco’s highlights include:

Cathedral of Santo Domingo
The Cathedral of Santo Domingo in Cusco.


Plaza de Armas Cusco
More views of the Plaza de Armas in Cusco.


The Iglesia y Convento de La Merced (The Church and Convent of the Sisters of Mercy).


white christ cusco
White Christ in Cusco.

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