International Studies Abroad ®est. 1987

Culture Corner

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What's Cusco Like?

Cusco is situated on the Southeastern side of Peru, crossing through the Andes mountains. The city of Cusco is known as the archaeological capital of the Americas. Walking through Cusco is like visiting a living museum of the history of the Inca. Not only does the city have many ancient, archaeologic, and historic buildings, such as the Cathedral, the city also contains many artesan markets in the streets of San Andrés, along Avenida El Sol, in the Calle Triunfo, and in the Plaza de Armas. You are sure to find plenty to do and see on a daily basis in Cusco!

Many people who arrive in Cusco automatically notice the change in altitude (3,310m or almost 11,000 ft), along with a strong awareness of energy, a very unique experience. The climate does take some getting used to, and many Peruvians recommend drinking tea to help with the acclimatization. It's very common for most new arrivals to experience moderate altitude sickness or "soroche". Please discuss with your doctors ways to prevent altitude sickness before you arrive, and if altitude will have an affect on any medication you are currently taking. It's recommended that you eat lightly, drink lots of water and rest in your first days for a smoother transition.

Region and Population

Cusco (population 300,000) is considered the Inca capital of Peru. It is located in the department of Cusco, along the Andean mountain line. The Spaniards conquered it in the 16th century, preserving the basic structure, but building Baroque churches and palaces over the ruins.


The annual average temperature in the city goes from 10.3° to 11.3° C (50.54° to 52.34° F). The temperature is relatively stable during the summer and winter. Usually, it is cold at night and during the first morning hours. May through July is the cold season, when the temperature can decrease below 0° C.

Be expected to pack a range of clothes, as during the day it's warm and sunny and in the mornings and at night, it's cold.

Also, there are two well-define seasons: the rainy season is from November to March and the dry season is from April to October. Cusco has a special weather due to the height at which it's located as well as its closeness to the equator.

Average monthly highs and lows (degrees in Fahrenheit) and rainfall (in inches) in Cusco:

Avg. Rainfall9.959.156.653.110.920.310.310.611.534.034.648.36

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