Peru: Cusco and the surrounding ruins - Tambomachay, Puca Pucara, Q'enqo and Sacsayhuamán

By Cubie - February 09, 2019

As I mentioned in the previous post, I arrived Cusco at night after a long travel day. It was probably already 9pm by the time I checked in Hotel Frankenstein. Ludwig, the owner of Hotel Frankenstein  was kind enough to show me the room straight and sort out the rest the next day. After showered I jumped straight to bed and had a very good sleep.

Different story after I woke up though - I woke up with sore calves, no thanks to me not stretching enough after getting down from Huayna Picchu. Ludwig had a look at me when I walked down the staircase, had a laugh and offered me muscle relaxant cream. I decided to go without it though I was a little regret by the end of the day when I was breathless going uphill and sore calves when walking downhill.

Day 1 in Cusco was spent going out to check out more ruins, but not before making dinner reservation. I had 2 full days in Cusco plus some time before travelling out to Arequipa. First stop for day 1 was to make dinner reservation! Then I made my way to Calle Puputi to catch a bus to Tambomachay. The plan is to catch a bus to Tambomachay and walk back to Cusco... and I learned a new word that day - para llevar (pronounced as pa-ra je-var) means takeaway in Spanish when I got a papaya juice along the way. To have in is para tomar.

Let me side track a little, fruit juices in Peru are the best (so I heard it could be the case for the rest of South America too but I've not been...). Go get one from the market, you'll thank me. I had a mixed fruit juice of orange, mango and aguaymanto (Inca berry) for S/7 (~USD 2.10 / ~AUD 3 / ~RM 8.60) from San Pedro Market. I thought it was a glass for S/7 but it was the whole blender full, so about 2.5 glasses. Yummo and good value.

Even though I planned to catch a bus at Calle Puputi to Tambomachay but I found some colectivo first and it started to rain lightly, so I hopped on to a colectivo, haggled for fare to S/2 from S/3 (~USD 060 / ~AUD 0.85 / ~RM 2.45) and sat down. The driver very kindly announced that we reached Tambomachay and let me off the colectivo. The same colectivo continues to Pisac.

Then this post gets a little tricky because I do not have any photos of any of the 4 ruins I have visited. The only photo I have that comes any close to the ruins is the one above, taken where Tambomachay and Puca Pucara are located. Tambomachay is across the road from Puca Pucara. Excellent view.

Tambomachay and Puca Pucara are quite small. The biggest difference of Tambomachay compared to the other 3 is flowing water from the structure. After visiting both ruins, I walked to Q'enqo. It was an easy walk really, the road is quite flat except needing to watch out for cars. I expected to see more people walking but interestingly I encountered one other person walking towards the same direction but he turned in to Sacsayhuamán straight without stopping at Q'enqo.

I made a little pit stop on my way to Q'enqo and fueled up with the nationally famous tea - Coca tea. Coca tea, of course is a herbal tea made using raw or dried leaves of the coca plant. The same coca plant leaves that contain alkaloids which are the source for cocaine base when extracted chemically. Coca tea is said to help alleviates altitude sickness and relieves indigestion. I can't vouch for the benefits as I slept for very long hours and was perpetually sleepy. Ludwig didn't see me going back to the hotel and when I didn't show up early for breakfast like other people, he even sent me an email to check if I was ok. Oops.

Q'enqo is an Inca temple that was carved out to create a labyrinth of caves. From afar, it looked like a big rock. The walk from Q'enqo to Sacsayhuamán would bring one passing by Cristo Blanco, a large statue of Jesus Christ that can be seen from Cusco city. Then you would reach the biggest of the Inca-archaeological site of Sacsayhuamán. "H" is usually silent in Spanish pronouciation, so Sacsayhuamán sounds like "sexy woman". At this impressive site, tons of stones were perfectly fitted together despite of their shapes.

I walked down from Saqsayhuaman and came across Plaza San Cristobal, and there were benches. I lingered a little, took some photos and soon it was time for dinner. It wasn't that late, I made reservation for 6PM seating. Shall write about that in another post.

I had 2 full days in Cusco plus some buffer time after arriving from Puerto Maldonado and leaving to Arequipa. So day 2 was spent walking around Cusco city and poking my nose to anything that took my fancy, including San Pedro Market.

It was almost All Saint's Day (Día de Todos los Santos Vivos) and All Souls’ Day (Day of the Dead - Día de los Difuntos) when I was in Cusco (1st and 2nd Nov). So there were a lot of breads in the shape of babies (wawa pan) or horses on sale. Wawa pan are used as offerings as well as for consumption. Ludwig bought one and offered me some before I checked out on 1st of Nov. It is a type of sweet bread, just in the shape of small child or baby.

There are many plazas in Cusco, the biggest is Plaza de Armas.

From there it was an easy walk to Hatun Rumiyoc street in the historical center to see the famous "Twelve Angled Stone". The Incas were highly regarded for their fine masonry, so this "Twelve Angled Stone" is a display of which even a stone of such shape could be closely fitted without mortar.

The other stop to make is the Inca Temple of the Sun, Qorikancha. This architecture is the combination of both Spanish and Incan influence. Church of Santo Domingo on top of the Inca ruins were built by the Spanish.

To make up for my non existence photos of the ruins and a very random jumbled post, please also try algarrobina ice-cream. Algarrobina is a syrup made from a black carob tree, which is a type of leguminous tree species in South America. Of course I have no idea what it was even after I tried to ask before making my ice-cream choice, this is googling work afterwards. I stumbled upon it in an ice-cream parlour somewhere across the street from Qorikancha.

Here's another photo of Cusco city, just because...

Side note: I'm still in Lunar New Year mood but all ads are now on Valentines' Day. Ha!

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  1. Would you say 2 full days is optimal for Cuzco? Or would you rather have another half day or so?

    1. I find 2 full days is good enough - I had plenty of rest, nothing was rushed and I even had time to sit at the plaza and people watching. That said I didn't go to San Blas though. Most people recommend more time because they also travel to Pisac from Cuzco but I travelled there from Ollantaytambo.