Friday, December 31, 2010

Pisac, Saqsaywaman and Co.

a.k.a My $1 poncho is better than your North Face rain gear

After Macchu Picchu we kept exploring the surroundings of Cuzco, including part of the sacred valley through Pisac. It is a little town 1 hour of bus away from Cuzco that houses a very big craft market as well as fantastic ruins a little higher up in the hills.
We took the bus from Cuzco with all the locals, so that we could save money and get a slice of real Peruvian life. The bus depot is really just a few buses waiting in the mud but everything went smoothly.
With the locals, but we got in early enough to have a seat!
We got to Pisac on time and after a lunch at a very pretty place called Blue Lama. We took a cab up to the Pisac ruins; the goal was to be dropped at the top and hike all the way back down (around 3 hours)
The day had been beautiful up until then but right when we exited the cab it started to rain heavily. Suddenly the hike didn't seem like such a good idea anymore....

After a good 45 minute soaking, the rain stopped and the rest of the afternoon ended up being sunny and beautiful. The hike was definitely a good idea as Pisac houses many ruins staged at different levels on the hills. It gives the whole thing a very interesting look thanks to very multi level perspectives.
Terraces for agriculture below the temples

Fun hike with cool views

Great perspectives

Ruins on the left, on the right, and at the far right, Pisac in the valley

Pisac and its market, straight down
On of the highlights was the fight between a huge fly and a tarantula, where the fly had basically paralyzed the tarantula and was bringing it in a quiet place before laying its eggs in it. You know what happens next to the tarantula if you've seen alien...

At the end of the many steps down, we reached the market of Pisac again and were on our way to take the bus back. They all seemed pretty full and we lucked out as a Germano-spanish couple had already picked up a cab and proposed us to share the ride back with them. It proved to be a great idea and a good way to end an excellent day.

We definitely recommend Pisac to those visiting the area!

The next day we decided to push it a little further and visit the 4 ruins that surround Cuzco (Tombomachay, Puca Pucaran, Q'enqo and Saqsaywaman) by taking the same bus as the day before but stopping at the furthest ruin, Tombomachay. From there it's a 8kms walk back to the closest one that overlooks Cuzco.
Everything pretty much played out like the first day at the beginning. What I mean is that we got the bus, arrived at destination and right as we got out, it started raining. Where we didn't get so lucky is in the fact that it didn't stop raining for the first 3 hours and the sun only prevailed once we reached the last ruins at Saqsaywaman.
This is when Denise dicovered for sure that her rain gear wasn't worth much as she ended up drenched and freezing under her rain gear while I was just fine under my poncho. Good to know!

As for the ruins and the walk... Well the first 2, Tombomachay and Puca Pucaran are definitely underwhelming after Machhu Picchu and Pisac. Q'enqo is small but original, and it's not too far from the main attraction, Saqsayaman, which is definitely worth the trip and is, incidentally, the closest one to Cuzco.
Given that the hike itself is along the road we definitely recommend skipping the 2 furthest ones.
Saqsayman was very unique though, with its high black walls built with huge stones, perfectly fitted the way the Inca knew how to do. It is huge and also includes a fantastic view of Cuzco, a slide and some creepy tunnels.
Some of the undergrand carved passages in Q'enqo

Awesome view of Cuzco (300k people)

Those are not small rocks! And they fit together perfectly

Playing by going down the natural slides

Saqsaywaman is definitely worth checking out

Don't miss it, it's a fun visit!

More photos here

1 comment:

  1. Great posts! I love that you get internet access in remote areas!

    The bug is likely a Tarantula Hawk wasp: Pompilidae Pepsis. All black body and orange wings. A new world spider wasp.

    Missing you guys.

    Happy New Year!