Cusco tours and excursions
Inca Trail and trekking tours
At the last count there were over 150 agencies offering trips, treks and tours in Cusco, many of which can get you onto the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu if booked far enough ahead. There are also a number of alternative treks in the surrounding areas that go to Machu Picchu that are well worth the muscle ache. These include the Salkantay trek, the Vilcabamba route and the rewarding Choquequirao hike, which takes nine days.Tel: (84) 238 380.
Cusco city walking tours
Tourist agencies are mostly strung along three sides of the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, or up Procuradores, along Calle Plateros or Calle Saphi. Most can organise walking tours of the city, but you are better off exploring on your own. iPeru has free maps of the area with sights highlighted on them. Simple circuits starting and ending at the Plaza de Armas can be taken in every direction. Most agencies can also arrange half day horse riding or mountain bike tours of the city surrounds too.Tel: (84) 252 974.
Rediscovered by explorer Hilary Bingham in 1911, Machu Picchu is now one of the world's most popular historical sites. Along with the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and the Colosseum, it is known as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
As the ancient centre of the Incas, Machu Picchu dates from the 15th century and around 55,000 people visit the site every year to gawp at over 200 different structures. Its many temples are the main highlight but if you are feeling energetic hike to the Sun Gate for an incredible view over it all. Otherwise, explore the remains of the village and agricultural terraces. The view of the surrounding mountains is spectacular.
PeruRail (tel: (84) 581 414; www.perurail.com) offers four departures a day to Machu Picchu from Poroy, a small village about 20 minutes by road from Cusco. The journey takes four hours. Departures are also available from Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley, a two hour journey. During the peak season from May to September, you should book your seat many months in advance to avoid disappointment.
Alternatively, Inca Rail (tel: (84) 581 860; www.incarail.com) offers an executive and first class train service from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu.
Another option is to simply join one of the many day tours from Cusco. Intrepid hikers shouldn't miss one of the world's most spectacular treks, the four-day Inca Trail. It arrives at Machu Picchu for sunrise, but will need to be booked months in advance.Tel: (1) 574 8000.
One of the nearest towns in the beautiful Río Urubamba Valley (popularly known as the Sacred Valley) is Pisac, which lies about 15km (9 miles) north of Cusco. An impressive Inca citadel, it's best to visit on Thursdays and Sundays when a traditional Andean market sets up shop in the main square. Go for colourful textiles and ceramics, and take in the jaw-dropping views as you travel there and back. There is also a fascinating cemetery to visit.