Stargazing with the Ancients

The Incas were the only culture in the world to define constellations of darkness as well as light. Astronomy wasn’t taken lightly: some of Cuzco’s main streets are designed to align with the stars at certain times of the year. Understanding their interest is a cool way to learn more about the Inca worldview. We recommend a visit to the Cuzco Planetarium before you head out trekking and watching the night sky on your own. Think of how clever you’ll feel pointing out the Black Llama to your fellow hikers. Reservations are essential. Price includes transfer from Plaza Regocijo.

Your Sacred Vision For Sale

Shamanic ceremonies may be native to the Amazon, but they have become a hot commodity in Cuzco and the Sacred Valley. The psychedelic properties of the San Pedro and ayahuasca plants have earned them fame and piqued public curiosity and the interest of psychonauts who travel in search of these experiences. Extremely powerful drugs, they can be highly toxic in the wrong hands.

Yet they are ubiquitous. In Cuzco, San Pedro is offered alongside massages by street hawkers; ayahuasca ceremonies are advertised in hostels. Of course, travelers can decide what is right and wrong for them. It’s important to note that these are not recreational drugs. A real shaman knows the long list of dos and don’ts for practitioners, and may screen participants. Ceremonies can require multiple days for preparation, fasting and extended rituals.

It is hard not to be skeptical about a store-bought spiritual experience. Many cuzqueños (inhabitants of Cuzco) believe that it’s a mockery to make these sacred ceremonies into moneymakers. Still, participating in a ‘guided ceremony’ can be a lot safer than scarfing down a powerful narcotic by yourself, as long as you trust the practitioners (in some cases, female guests have been attacked while under the influence). Avoid casual opportunities. Serious operations often use a medical questionnaire. It’s also advisable to look into ceremonies and ask previous participants about their experience before signing up.

San Blas

Known as the artists’ neighborhood, San Blas is nestled on a steep hillside next to the center. With classic architecture, its signature blue doors and narrow passageways without cars, it has become a hip attraction full of restaurants, watering holes and shops.