A Hike from Tambo Machay to Sacsayhuaman
Trip Start May 05, 2013
41Trip End Nov 06, 2013
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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
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.
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
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"
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
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
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.