In 2011, I had expected Cusco to be touristy, but found that Cusco had a vibrant life of its own. This time, the touristy part of Cusco is so overwhelming, it is hard for me to appreciate Cusco on its own. Maybe it is because our location is too "good;" behind the Cathedral, down from San Blas, right around the corner from the wall of the 12-corned stone. We were constantly having ambulatory peddlers in our face, selling trinkets, paintings, massages, paintings, shoe shine, carved gourds... It's really sad to see Cusco allowing herself to become so sordid.
By dumb luck, we spent much time away from town, working on scoring attractions on our combo ticket (Boleto Turistico).
- Took the bus to Tambomachay, walked to Puka Pukara, down to the Inca canal, Temple of the Moon, and Q'enqo, scoring a couple of miradors on the way back down to center.
- Day trip to Pisac, underwhelming Sunday market, outstanding site. We walked up on the upper route and returned on the lower route.
- Bused to the church in Tipon. Took the Camino Inca up to the site, very beautiful site. Taxied down to the main road, caught a bus to Pikillacta, another vast and mind blogging Wari site, which is the case of all Wari sites we have encountered.
- On the last day, we finally made it to Saksayhuaman. There is nothing more impressive than the megalith walls. I could hardly drag John away. We spent a whole morning there.
- All the museums on the combo ticket are worthless. The one that might potentially be good, Regional History Museum, was closed for renovation. Such is our luck.
- We also went to the song and dance that is also on the ticket. We normally scorn song and dance put on for solely for tourists. This one had a dozen musicians and a dozen dancers, did not seem cheazy. I actually learned that the tradition is for dancers to sing at the same time.
We wore ourselves out and the peddlers worn us down.
On our first full day, we caught a local bus, 2 soles, the blue and white one, signed Señor del Huerto, from Recoleta up to Tambomachay, one of the sites covered by the Boleto Turistico (BT). There is a small fountain, a few terraces, a tricke of a canal, and not many tourists.
Then a short walk back towards Cusco to Puka Pukara, another BT site and once a fortress.
The fortress was small and frankly not that interesting so after a short visit we set off cross country following the Rio Cachimayo downhill towards Cusco. Here's a shot of Puka Pukara from the trail below.
An ominous sign at the beginning of the trail: peligro = danger.
But the only danger seems to be these calmly grazing sheep.
At first the river was a small stream running through eucalyptus groves and not-recently-tilled fields. However, the riverbank was shored up in places by stones.
The giant hummingbird was spotted.
The stream turns turned into a proper canal.
A natural bridge.
The trail continued along the canal. We crossed the Inca Road and were shortly at Inkilltambo Archaeological Site, newly renovated with free admission. You know you're there when you these modest water works.
Some cool Incan shrines cut into the rocks.
Lunch spot view over the Inkilltambo Site.
After lunch we walked directly west and up to the ridge on the opposite hill to the Inca Road - it's like a highway! - in the direction of the Temple of the Moon, another free, lesser known Ican site in walking distance of Cusco. Below: View back to Inkilltambo.
A view from the Inca Road down the valley towards to the Cusco Airport.
Sun-Ling catches me in action; sort of.
The big rock outcrop in the distance is the Temple of the Moon. Look to the left and see a big fissure that has split the rock in two.
At one time you could scramble through the fissure, but now it's blocked.
And the view from the far side.
From here it's a short walk to Q'enqo, a site requiring the Boleto Turistico. It's the ruins of an Incan ceremonial site with small amphitheater facing a monolith in the shape of a puma, and a labyrinth of passages and altars.
View of Q'enqo from below.
After a short break we walk past Chico Q'enqo, where we see a Shamanistic ceremony, and then plunge down through the San Blas neighborhood to our Airbnb apartment.
Shaman (seated right) and customer (seated left).
Views towards Plaza de Armas.
Out for a walk after dinner, we pass the famous polygonal Incan stone walls near our apartment, and happen upon on a Critical Mass bike ride on the Plaza de Armas.
Just before the Critical Mass ride gets going: 2 x 15-second videos.
The Plaza de Armas lit up for Christmas.