Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Inca Sites Around Cuzco

Machu Picchu & The Inca-Trail are the main tourist attraction near Cuzco. But, there are about 10 more major sites around Cuzco, most of them don`t resemble the Machu Picchu, and if you`ve got the time - it`s certainly worth it to go and observe them from up close.
To do so, one must first purchase the ´´Boleto Turistico´´, an expensive way for the Peruvians to make you think you`re about to see a lot, but then - no one really has the time to visit all 16 sites included. The updated price for the ticket is 130 Soles (about 45$US) for adult, or 70 Soles (about 24$US) just for a one day visit (one tour). It is valid for 10 days.
This is the story of a family, trying to see as much as they could - in the three days they had.
We booked all of the tours before going to the Inca-Trail, through one agency - Inca Sol Travel, located on Av. El Sol 101. That way we got a pretty good price for 3 different tours (City Tour, Valle Sagrada & Moray).
City Tour:
All sites in this tour are located near the city, and could be reached in one day. If you`ve got strength in your legs - take a Taxi early in the morning to Tambomachay and walk your way back to Cuzco (less then 5Km). We took the tour.
Located in Av.El Sol and not included in the ´´Boleto Turistico´´, looks like a fort from the outside. It is definitely the best way to witness how the Spanish (Christians) treated with ´´respect´´, the local Incas.
Half of the building is still Inca made, but on the other - the Spaniards just destroyed everything and built it the way they thought was better. Luckily, we can still see the perfection of the Inca´s work. Also in this site - The Smallest Inca-Stone found in a building.
Not pronounced ´´Sexy Woman´´, but still is fun to say.
With a beautiful view above the city of Cuzco, This site is most famous for it`s ´´Big Ass´´ Inca-Stones. As you mite have guessed, here lies The Biggest Inca-Stone ever found in a building.
In Sacsaywaman, we also learnt about the importance of Peruvian (or South-American) accuracy:
Guide: ´´There you can see the largest stadium in the world!´´
An American tourist: ´´Really?! how big?´´
Guide: ´´It has 42,000 seats!´´
Also known as the labyrinth, is a very small but impressive site. It`s located in the middle of the woods, and most of it is underground. We even met a ´´real´´ Inca!
Puca Pucara:
Looks like a fort from a far, but resembles an old night-club from the top - with a flat square on the top of the ruins.
Located just 400m from Puca Pucara, locals sell souvenirs here (a regular tourist market in South America). After a short climb while the sun was setting, we reached the Water Fountains.

Day 2 of our tour. These sites are a bit more remote from Cuzco. We chose Thursday for this tour because that way we see the Pisac Market as well.
Pisac Market:
We hoped to have more time here, because we love markets. Locals come to buy spices, tourists come to buy souvenirs. Given only 25 minutes, we had to run through it - and we still didn`t see 30% of it.
Pisac Remains:
Great view point and lots of terraces. Located above the Sacred Valley. Near the Inca site, we got to see Catacombs (graves located in the cliffs in front of the site). They were built in a way that animals wouldn`t be able to reach them. Grave robbers (another kind of animal) did reach them, and there for - they are today opened.
More stairs!? Yes. Apparently, the Incas loved to ascend/descend. After climbing all the terraces, you reach another great view point. On the top of the site, the Spaniards didn`t leave so much to see (damaged a lot). There`s an Inca face carved in the mountain. Back down there`s the prinscess´s fountain of youth and another fountain with a triple Andian-Cross.
The Spaniards really liked the Inca´s temples, that`s why all you could see from Chinchero is a Christian church. At list the Spaniards couldn`t take the sunsets away from South America.

Day 3 of our tour. We mainly wanted to see Moray`s terraces, but got the interesting Salt-Mines in the same package.
The amazingly shaped terraces used to function as an agricultural laboratory, each step is said to be in a different temperature & micro-climate. When in the bottom & the middle of it all, there are great acoustics.
Also not included in the ´´Boleto Turistico´´ (entrance 5 Soles), but astonishing.
A whole valley filled with drying pools fed by a salty spring. The workers randomly free/shut the water´s stream allowing the pools the fill up or dry slowly in the Peruvian sun.

When we got back to Cuzco every night, we tried seeing some more sites already included in the ´´Boleto Turistico´´. One of them is a horrifying dancing show where we got too late to, but still left before the end.
Another evening, we witnessed a parade in the main street of Cuzco (Av. Del Sol). Same dances as shown on the show, but this time we could choose to go on (just walk further down the street) when we got tired from the traditional dance (same routine...).

Tips for the Cuzco Area:
- If you`ve got just one day - do the City Tour yourself by taking a taxi to Tambomachay and walking back to the city. Pay just the one day ticket.
- Inka Sol Travel were really nice to us, and if you book several tours, be sure to ask for a discount. The guides working for this company are not the best, but you can always walk far from them and enjoy the sites by yourselves. Most companies in South America take a commission just for connecting you to the origin company - Inka Sol Travel is an origin company with their own tours - making them cheaper.
- There`s a really good, all you can eat, Indian restaurant just across the street from Inka Sol Travel.
- You can skip the traditional dancing show.

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