Cusco the gateway to Sacred Valley

Rae Wilson

IT could be the cobblestones, the narrow winding streets or the majestic main square.

It might be the proximity to the Sacred Valley and the Inca Holy Grail that is Machu Picchu.

Whichever it is, Cusco is the kind of endearing city you never want to leave.

Its mystery and charm weaves a web so tight around your heart you'll be talking about it for years.

Arequipa and Chivay had already given a taste of what was to come but seeing so many people in traditional costume makes you feel like you've stepped back in time.

Pop around a corner and you might see a woman with her llama.

Sometimes they'll ask you for money in exchange for a photo which makes it all seem less genuine.

But many of them are the real deal.

There are artisans walking around with gorgeous landscape and scene paintings in oils and water colours.

It's free to look and there are some amazing works for the wall back home.

The handicrafts market is less impressive, with factory-made textiles dominating the selection rather than the genuine hand woven goods.

But you can find a store selling solely genuine alpaca and sheep wool weaves near by.

They even have photos of the creator, their name and age.

But you can find great, genuine, pieces on the Lares Trek or in La Paz in Bolivia for about half the price, and slightly less quality.

Seeing women, and some men, spinning wool and weaving the traditional way with bones and pieces of wood is an eye opener.

You could never buy a factory-made textile after seeing the work that goes into a genuine piece which can take weeks or months because they are usually secondary to other household chores.

There are important Inca ruins in the hills just above Cusco which are walking distance, or accessible by horse for something different.

The nearby Sacred Valley is gorgeous with its picturesque mountains, many with terraces for agriculture on their steep slopes.

You can find people who weave, make chocolate, do pottery and many other crafts the traditional way.

The true beauty of the valley is Ollantaytambo which has an important place in Inca history thanks to many a battle with the Spaniards from Cusco to the sacred town.

Ollantaytambo is also perfect for meandering the streets and the easily accessible ruins on the surrounding hills.

Cusco's other charm is the fabulous food and nightlife.

Start with dinner at Nana Raymi, which has great Peruvian fare, or Fallen Angel, which has bathtubs of fish under glass as tables and offers a delicious cocktail list.

Then head to The Shot Bar and choose a few shooters from the huge blackboard of options.

The flaming shots, lit with an oxy torch and drunk lightening fast through a straw, are a fantastic start to the evening.

Drop into Mushrooms, on the corner of the main square on the second floor, for another drink and some 80s classics.

Then head to The Lek or Mythology on another corner of the square for a mix of Latin and modern Western tunes to dance the night away.

Mythology will let you dance on the bar if you feel like a wild night.

There is also another good club above the Indian restaurant just off the main square which will take music requests.

You are sure to have a night to remember in Cusco.

A Latin Affair is a travel column written by Rae Wilson.

Topics:  machu picchu south america

Hospital board chair Dominic Devine has stepped down

HISTORIC ARCHITECTURE: Wide Bay Health Chief Dominic Devine outside the doors of the original building of the Bundaberg Base Hospital. 
Photo: Zach Hogg / NewsMail

Deputy chair Barbara Hovard OAM will assume the role of acting chair

Unique approach sets our SES apart as state's best

TOP HONOURS: Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey with Bundaberg Regional SES Unit members Clint Lythall, Ray Smith, Jeff Green, Samantha Clough, Robert DeFlorian and Amanda Green.

Top honours for our SES volunteers

Grazier avoids conviction over marijuana crop

CROP: Captain Creek grazier Bailey Mitchell Crighton pleaded guilty to growing marijuana.

Livestock farmer given chance to protect livelihood

Local Partners

Unique approach sets our SES apart as state's best

THE region's nine SES groups and its volunteers have been recognised as the state's best at an awards ceremony in Brisbane.

Men's Shed to open soon

MEN'S SHED: Rob Miller and Col Driver at the new Gayndah Men's Shed.

The Gayndah Men's Shed is ready to open

Community garden set for Palmwoods

Kay Nixon at the Palmwoods Community Gardens will be hosting a launch day and inviting the ecommunity to come along and sign up.

Parcel of land to supply sustainable gardening for community

Former Split Enz front man Tim Finn finds new niche

Singer Tim Finn has written the music for theatre production Ladies in Black.

Musician finds his way to theatre

Kanye West threatens to boycott Grammys

West says he won't go to the Grammys if Frank Ocean's not nominated

Why this actress wasn't embarrassed by nude photo leak

Leslie Jones source Bang

'If you wanna see Leslie Jones naked, just ask,' she said

Dad's Army comic genius Jim Perry dies

Jimmy Perry, the creator of Dad's Army.

Dad's Army series captured all that British people savour

Check out some fashions from the Coast festival

FASHION: Ocean Zen range.

Images from the Sunshine Coast Fashion Festival show what's hot

Australian Survivor's magician Matt out of tricks

Australian Survivor contestant Matt Tarrant.

SHOW'S power couple looks unstoppable in race to the finish.

Ruby Mills misses out on spot in Mel B's underdog team

Bundaberg singer Ruby Mills pictured during the three-seat challenge on The X Factor.

BUNDABERG singer officially out of contention for singing show.

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

What our mayor thinks of the new draft SEQPlan

The plan to use the innovative technology as part of the new Maroochydore CBD was cemented on site today when Mayor Mark Jamieson and Envac Asia Region president Chun Yong Ha formally signed the contract for the $20 million underground waste collection system.

New plan accommodates Sunshine Coast Council's vision for growth.