A Hike from Tambo Machay to Sacsayhuaman

Trip Start May 05, 2013
Trip End Nov 06, 2013

Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines

Flag of Peru  , Cuzco Region,
Friday, July 19, 2013

There are many, many tours to be had around the streets of Cusco. Throw a ball in any street and it will almost certainly hit half a dozen tour agencies, a few good, lots bad and most, pretty average. They all however, are expensive. With a little bit of research and some most places can be visited on public transport and do not require a guide, unless of course you are really into Inca history. Personally, my attention span wanes rapidly after a few minutes so a guide is sort of wasted on me. Having said that, we did have a great guide for a day in Trujillo and our experience there was greatly enhanced by her services. Our first full day out will be to Pisac, one of the greatest sites in the Sacred Valley but I will deal with that in other entries.

Our trip for today is to the Inca sites in the hills outside of town involves walking to the collectivo stop to get a bus to Tambo Machay. Fifteen minutes walk and a short wait and we are on the, already packed bus. One seat is left so I take it and Carolyn sits on my lap. A short while later, a seat becomes available to a mother and daughter so Carolyn transfers and immediately strikes up a conversation with the 3 year old daughter ( mum completely ignores her). They then start a game of poking one another which continues until our destination, still ignored by Mum!

Tambo Machay

Alighting at Tambo Machay we walk up hill to the site which is also known as Los Banos del Inca (Inca Baths) was basically a spa retreat for high priests and Inca nobility. The site is quite small consisting of a few Inca buildings built around a stream. On the way up we do notice the change in altitude as we have now ascended some 400m to 3800m asl. Wandering around the site we are soon surrounded by a busload of people on a tour so we make our retreat down the road to the next site of Puka Pukara.

Puka Pukara

This site is a lot more impressive and was more of a working fortress with great views over the valley to the snow capped mountains beyond. In Peru, we find ourselves in constant wonder of the spectacular scenery. This site has a lot more to see and we spend some time just wandering around the rooms and walls admiring both the stone work and the views.

Passing by the inevitable hawkers selling everything from Alpaca knitwear and artisan jewellery to photo opps of themselves and their baby alpacas, we head on down on our cross country walk back down the mountain to Cusco. Armed only with a pencil drawn map, which turns out to be wrong anyway, we quickly get lost. Soon after we take a wrong turn in open countryside we are approached by a couple of French girls who ask us for directions. Inclined to reply that we don't know where we are going either, we have noted our mistake and point them in, what we think, is the right direction and end up walking with them for a lot of the way. The countryside around here, only a few kms from Cusco city is really beautiful. Sprinkled with farms, Inca ruins and a few lakes it makes for great walking country. Old Inca pathways, still in use today, crisscross the countryside and I assume most lead back to Cusco, so even if you do get lost, it is no big problem.

Eventually we find our way to Zona X a big rock riddled with tunnels and caves, beloved of hippies as a mystical site and local couples as a place to "be alone". We see some of each! We stop briefly to eat our sandwiches and move on to the next site a few kilometres distant, of Q'enko.


An even more impressive site. An amphitheatre and temple, it includes an altar where sacrifices where made and you can still see the channels carved into the rock to drain away the blood! Judging by the size of these channels there must have been a hell of a lot of blood flowing! The site has a number of caves inside the rock inside which are yet more altars. The most impressive site so far.


The greatest and closest to Cusco of all the Inca ruins, this site is just 10 mins walk from SAExplorers, a good job because after 10 kms of walking, our legs are beginning to feel the strain. This site really is impressive and exhibits some of the most impressive Inca architecture in the Sacred Valley. The experts don't seem too sure whether this was a temple, a fortress or both. Whatever it was, it is certainly impressive, sitting as it does, high on the hill overlooking Cusco. From here the views of the Centro Historico, the Plaza de Armas, the airport and greater Cusco are simply breathtaking.

The ruins are built of the tradition Inca block work precisely fitted together without the aid of cement. Some of these blocks are 4 metres high and weigh 120 tons. How they got them into place is an incredible feat of engineering. After exploring the ruins we head on back to the clubhouse, a few minutes down the very steep hill.

This evening after resting awhile back at the clubhouse we wander out to the suburbs of Cusco in search of some non- tourist food and beverage. First stop is a very small local bar complete with two barflies who, clearly having been there all afternoon, welcome us like long lost friends. The barman, complete with Stetson hat and shoulder length hair has the best collection of blues music playing on the sound system. All my favourites from Robert Johnson and Howling Wolf to Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan. He even had a Captain Beefheart CD behind the bar ( Robert Ivey, where are you? You are missing out!). We have searched high and low for this sort of place since arriving in South America,

Due to a communication mix up I unknowingly order 2 litres of beer, "fortunately" Carolyn spotted my mistake which was quickly rectified. After savouring the ambience, the beer and the music for an hours or so off we set down the street to find a local Polleria. We order two meals which consist of salad, roast chicken, fries and a whole array of sauces, some extremely fiery. The food was delicious and extremely filling. The bill? 11 soles for two, about $3.50 US. It sort of brings into context the prices in the tourist areas where a main course for one goes for approx. 25-30 soles.

Heading back into town, we pass by our new local bar where our new found friends are leaving, struggling to stay upright they bid us a cheery buenos noches!

The total cost for our day out is 22 soles, 3 for the bus, 11 for dinner and 8 for beer. Not bad for an excellent day out.
Slideshow Report as Spam
  • Your comment has been posted. Click here or reload this page to see it below.

  • Please enter a comment.
  • Please provide your name.
  • Please avoid using symbols in your name.
  • This name is a bit long. Please shorten it, or avoid special characters.
  • Please enter your email address to receive notification
  • Please enter a valid email address


bob k on

if that nasty kid that tried to steal my wallet there approaches you kick him like I did

candcthai on

Can't help you Bob. The little s*** moved to Ecuador where he stole our camera and got clean away!!

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: