Peru: A day trip to Pisac

By Cubie - January 22, 2019

I was a lazy tourist who woke up and leisurely had breakfast at 8ish morning. I suspect the rest have already departed and went on their way as I was the only one at the dining area and travelling activities in Peru mostly had early start, like hiking. I was served some cereal with fruits and yoghurt first, I wasn't sure what else was included in the breakfast provided so I started on my food. The omelette came later after I have finished my cereal, a bit like breakfast starter and main course.

As it was a Sunday, I decided to make my way to Pisac as there is a big Sunday market. Otherwise one could also travel to Pisac from Cusco, in fact the distance is slightly shorter. There are contradicting opinions on the market if you read the reviews but I've not been to any market, there really is nothing to compare or judged. Sure, there were many souvenir stalls but there were also stalls selling Alpaca goods, cooked food.

Getting to Pisac town
There is no direct public transport to Pisac from Ollantaytambo (excluding taxi). So to get to Pisac, a transfer of colectivo at Urumbamba is required.

Ollantaytambo to Urubamba takes about 30 minutes, S/2 (~USD 0.20 / ~AUD 0.83 / ~RM 2.46). Urubamba to Pisac, about an hour, S/5 (~USD 1.50 / ~AUD 2.10 / ~RM 6.16).
However on the way back I was told to pay S/4 for the colectivo from Pisac to Urumbamba.

I think the colectivo fare could be higher on Sunday compared to other days because I heard the driver said domingo (Sunday) when a local passenger asked him.

I got on the colectivo to Urubamba from outside the market in Ollantaytambo and continued till Urubamba's main station. What I didn't realise was that the connecting colectivo wasn't at the station. I was told that to it was about 10-15 minutes walk from the station. The direction I was given was - walk out of the station, turn left and walked about 10-15 minutes (i.e backtrack to the direction where the colectivo came from).

Unfortunately there wasn't a very clear indication of how the colectivo stop looked like as there is no sign to indicate that it is a stop or station. It would be on your left and when you see many colectivos (white colour vans), just go in and ask.

Getting to / fro Pisac ruins
This is the pricey bit, unless you walk about uphill to the ruins from Pisac town (probably 2 hours). Alternative is to take a taxi there. It was hot and my lungs capacity were still poor, I didn't really need any other motivation and paid for the taxi. It did feel ridiculous that I paid S/25 (~USD 7.50 / ~AUD 10.55 / ~RM 31) for the 20 minutes ride as compared to my commute from Ollantaytambo. Yes, I paid the same amount on the way down. I could've walk down and was contemplating that but it was getting really hot then (read: lazy tourist started the day late) and I wanted to save some time as I travelled out of Ollantaytambo later in the evening.

The view getting to Pisac is amazing right?

Pisac ruins

This Inca citadel sits on a hilltop above the village. It boast an impressive agricultural terracing. Above them are narrow-ish footpath and steep stairs to the the top, where the ceremonial center is located. There are some simple signs telling you are looking at so you won't be completely lost.

After spending some time exploring the ruins, I found a taxi to take me back to the town. Remember, otherwise there's the walking option. Downhill isn't as taxing as going uphill. Majority of the vehicles there were waiting for other people though but there are random ones who had just send someone there, like me.

Pisac market
Pisac market is one of the famous markets in Cusco, especially the Sunday market. A large section of the market is dedicated for souvenirs and handicrafts if you want to buy Inca related goods like alpaca clothing, sweaters, scarves, backpacks, etc. As the market is really quite big, it wasn't crowded at all. At the main square, the local communities dressed up in their colourful clothing and set up shop selling their wares. I had opted to have lunch at one of the stalls. I was shown what ready cooked food they have and I get picked what I wanted. Initially I thought she was just going to grab a bit of everything so I ended up with quite a big plate. I was stuffed! I paid S/10 (~USD 3 / ~AUD 4.20 / ~RM 12.50) for my very, very big plate of rice with dishes. Despite very full, I can't pass on chicha morada, S/1 (~USD 0.30 / ~AUD 0.42 / ~RM 1.25) and not tried it. It is deep purple colour and made from dried corn. It was refreshing and I actually quite like the taste of it.

Getting to Ollantaytambo from Pisac
It works the same way as getting to Pisac, just the other way around. Colectivos leaving Pisac to Urubamba stop at the bridge that crosses river to town. Colectivos to other places also stop at the same place, but once you get there, just ask where to wait for colectivo to Urubamba and the locals will point you to the right direction. I've included the fare I paid above.

On my return to Ollantaytambo, Ollantaytambo was celebrating the town's anniversary, that was at the end of October. There were dances performances at the middle of the square and circling outside were food stalls. I tried to watch a little, it was not easy as everybody seems to tower over me but I managed a little. I returned to the hostel thereafter, chatted with the hostel staffs a bit before I make my way to the train station to Aguas Calientes!

Side note: I was told by the staff at Ollantaytambo hostel where I stayed that one needs to have Peruvian identification document to buy a mobile sim card. I asked him because initially I thought it would be handy to get one though I usually don't. He was willing to help me to get one but in the end, I didn't because I was getting along ok without connection, thanks to That said, for some reason kept on telling me that it takes 50 minutes to walk to Ollantaytambo train station even though it was only about 15 minutes walk away. 

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  1. Regarding the various forms of road transport in Peru, how would you rate the level of (dis)comfort compared with let's say the communal vans of rural China? Still curious about Peru for a potential trip but I have to ensure that the experience would be acceptable to my wife. We've traveled to the Tibetan plateau in Western Sichuan and I'm thinking similar informal shared vans in Peru?

    1. Mmm... I've not taken communal vans in rural China but reading your posts on informal shared vans in Tibetan plateau, I imagine the van are of similar version. I find the ones in Peru are more comfortable than the ones I had in Kyrgyzstan as the ones I took in Peru were not overcrowded. The vans looked new-ish too. Only one out of the many that I took had a couple of standing passengers. However, depending on the area like Ollantaytambo, the roads were quite bumpy.

      Long distance buses in Peru were very comfortable, however, were very comfortable (of course subject to bus company).

  2. Some beautiful pictures of the views of Pisac, it is a quite comfortable and relaxing scenario from that perspective. I will soon be travelling to Peru and will now include this area in my list of sites to visit (