Inca Sites near Cuzco, Peru

Tuesday 20 August, we took a local bus to an Inca site about 5 miles from Cuzco. This site of Tambo Machay was called the “Inca Baths” because there are several fountains with pools of water at their base. Across the main road from this first site is another site of Inca ruins, Puca Pucura. This site has a high central plaza and the remains of buildings on the terraces just below. It was probably a resting place on this Inca road leading from Cuzco. After visiting this site and taking some photos of the Inca terraces that line the sides of the valley, we continued walking toward Cuzco. We had plans to visit two more sites along the way but ended up making an early turn off the main road, directly to Sacsayhuamán, so we missed the site of Qenko.

Sacsayhuamán is a ruin site that borders Cuzco in the heights above the modern city. This site is composed of a large parade ground , or plaza, bordered by a zigzag, three-terraced Inca wall on one side and terraces on the other. Above the zigzag wall are the remains of several structures, including a circular one that was probably a temple to the sun. After exploring above the zigzag wall, we returned to the plaza and then climbed up on the terraced side to view the large natural rock that seemed to be scared by glaciers in the distant past. This large rock has several Inca shrines carved into it. While sitting up there, a modern Inca gentleman (his native language is Quechua, although Spanish is a close second) joined us and described his feelings about the site as well as other nearby mountain ruin sites. Before continuing the short distance back into Cuzco, we climbed up to the hilltop with the modern 11-meter-tall Christ statue that overlooks the city of Cuzco. Then we made the steep descent to the city plaza, along paths and stairs that have pre-Colonial origins.

On a small plaza of San Francisco de Borja, just above the main plaza, boys were constructing bamboo fireworks towers. They said that they would be setting them off about 9PM. We watched the construction for awhile before heading down for dinner. We returned to the hotel room to dress warmly and returned to the fireworks plaza. We found a nice bench and watched the finishing-up of the tower constructions. About 8PM, a band, followed by a group of people, filed into the plaza. Tubs of drink and food were brought in as well. When the group got settled, a hot sweet rice and milk drink was served to all. Bill and I enjoyed it. Then food of chicken and boiled potatoes was passed out. It smelled delicious but since Bill and I had just finished eating a big dinner, we declined the food. Then, after everyone finished eating, another hot drink was served, probably Chicha Morada (a non-alcoholic local drink made from corn). Bill and I again enjoyed the hot drink!! After everyone was fed (including the band), the fireworks display started. The first to be exploded were large rockets that exploded in big bursts of color overhead. These were followed by figures held by hand on long bamboo poles, some even shot pinwheels of color up into the air. Finally the fireworks on the 7 large bamboo towers were lit, one at a time. Many of the towers had spinners that spun off into the night, bursting into great flowers of color. It was all quite spectacular and was done in honor of the Virgin of the Asunta. Bill and I did not get back to the hotel until after 11pm, surprising the hotel staff at our late return.