We had the pleasure to follow one of the walking tours organized in the city of Cusco. They are carried out every day, starting at 10.20 am at the Rococijo Plaza two blocks from the main square.
We initially booked one of the tours (there are several) on the Internet and go our reservation number. We were supposed to meet our guide with a green jacket. When we arrive near the place, the police prevents us from passing. There is a conference of important mayors of the region and we cannot enter. After negotiations we finally access to the Plaza.
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There are no guides with green jackets, but there are several with yellow jackets. We are informed that the walking tour of the green jackets would not take place because it is a holiday. Really? However, for the tour we booked for 10.30 am, at 10.20 am nobody showed up. Finally we will take the tour of the yellow jackets that starts at 10.20 am.
The name of our guide for this walking tour is Richard and we will make the visit in English. He has a very good English-level that is explained by the fact (he will tell us at the end of the tour) that he worked six years on cruiseships and like this travelled extensively. Back to his country (he is Peruvian), he created his agency with his brother. They both now guide tourists through their walking tour and the discovery of Cusco.
This free walking tour is a really good surprise for us. First we go to The Plaza of San Francisco.
We continue along the great market of San Pedro, the largest of Cusco.
It is open from 6 am to 6 pm. Besides shopping every day for Peruvians, it is possible for everyone to eat…
Sometimes it is really cheap.
There are many, many stands. Everywhere people are busy. You might meet ladies who knit, stands of ceviche… a really beautiful market.
Our group is heterogeneous; French, German, Italian… it takes all to make a world, right? We are about fifteen people.
Cusco has its own colours: it is a very nice flag that looks almost like the rainbow (be aware: these are the same colours as the ones of the Gay pride, but not in the same order, so don’t mix it up!)
Our free walking tour then leads us back to the Main Square of Cusco before we take the famous Loreto Street.
There we meet an original musician who works with equally original musical instruments, including a flute made with condor feathers… From there we follow the footsteps of the film depicting the life of Che Guevara on his trip to South America, especially the scene in which he is near the famous street with the stone of 12 angles…
We will talk in our free walking tour about the Inca trails and the famous letters to the empire, the message that had to be transmitted very quickly. They would prevent the next runner about their arrival, with the help of a large shell. Like this it would have been possible to travel from Cusco to the Coast in less than 20 hours!! This may sound unbelievable today. By bus it takes 24 hours to connect Cusco to Lima. Ok, the Inca Trail passes through the mountains and it has fewer turns, but still we talk about men walking a the race.
We finally gather at the monument of Tupac Amaru II on the main square; he was at the head of the first “real” rebellion towards the Spanish crown in 1780. Take note of the Christian-cross in this monument. Ancestral beliefs are still strong in the region, but today’s religion is Christianity.
This free walking tour will be completed in a shop where our guide warns us about the labels in the sweaters, vests and other products on which is registered alpaca. He is showing evidence (I hope the store where we are, is one of his friends otherwise, I think he would not be very happy with the show). Richard tries to demonstrate the difference between a synthetic textile and pure alpaca wool. It is not so obvious, I admit. Of the two products is actually written is alpaca. A recognition element would be the price. A true alpaca sweater or vest can be in no case less than $150. Well. But is it enough?
We end up with a pleasant tasting of exotic fruits; passion fruit, custard apple,…
Now it is time to go, but not without leaving a tip to our talented and sympathetic guide. These city tours on foot are certainly free, but everyone gives a generous donation. And yes, Richard deserves it because we had a great time with him. It took three hours and has a turn slightly different in the afternoon at 3.30 pm.
Last recommendation from Richard: do not forget your comment (only positive, right?) in Tripadvisor. I say: Professionnal till the end.
Cusco is a really beautiful city and ideal for a walking tour. So don’t hesitate to take a free walking tour during your stay. We even think that Free walking tours would be great in Northern Peru as well.
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