Although Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley are the most famous Incan ruins, there are some highly accessible and impressive ruins just outside the center of Cusco. Although many tourists book a bus tour to visit the ruins for about 4-5 hours, it’s possible to hike them. It’s best to wait until you’ve acclimated for at least a day before attempting the hike, and allow for at least 7 hours, assuming you want time to see the ruins and perhaps get a guided tour on the ground.
To begin the trek, follow Av. Pumacurco up several steps and then follow a winding trial to the entrance to Sacsayhuaman (pronounced remarkably like “sexy woman”). Here, you have the option of buying a 70 sole ticket to just the ruins on the hike, or a 130 sole ticket that also includes the most popular ruins in the Sacred Valley and some of the museums in Cusco. It is possible to hike up to Tambomachay, about 11km outside Cusco, without buying a ticket, but of course then you will not be allowed entrance to the sites.
After Sacsayhuaman and Cristo Blanco, you can follow the main road up to Q’enqo. After visiting Q’enqo, this is where you break off from the main road. You will follow a path uphill until you see a little shop and a sign that forbids horseback riding. You then veer to the right and follow a path to the Templo de la Luna (Temple of the Moon) – which does not require a ticket to enter. Here might be a good place to rest, as the views from the top of the temple are breathtaking and it’s quite peaceful, away from the main tourist route.
After Templo de la Luna, you will walk through the woods for about half an hour, following a winding creek, until you see the town of Huayllarcoccha. Here you will rejoin civilization, but be careful as the cars tend to drive very quickly around blind curves! You will continue walking up to Puca Pucara and Tambomachay, your ultimate destination.
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