On our last day in Cuzco, before heading into the Sacred Valley, we decided to go and see the nearby archaeological sites of Tambomachay, Puka Pukara, Qenqo and Sacsayhuaman.
The sites are located one after another and can easily be seen in a day. We took the collectivo for Pisaq and asked to be dropped off at Tambomachay, the furthest site from Cuzco. The collectivo cost us 3.50 soles each and took about 15 minutes.
Once at the site we bought our tourist ticket for 128 soles each. The ticket is valid for 10 days and allows you entry to all the marked sites in Cuzco and the Sacred Valley. You cannot pay for each site entry individually, you either take the full ticket for all sites or choose between a city tour ticket or a Sacred Valley ticket, each for 70 soles.
Tambomachay consists of 2 main areas; the top with aqueducts and farming terraces and at the bottom a main fountain with 2 channels that were used as ceremonial streams.
Across the road lies the site of Puka Pukara, formerly a military control post and sleeping quarters for the entourage of the Incas. Although a very small site nowadays, the views are beautiful. You can see across the landscape from the former control tower and across to the site of Tambomachay.
From here we jumped onto a collectivo heading back to Cuzco and paid 1 sole each to be dropped off at the next site, Q’enqo.
When you first arrive at the site it seems like nothing more than some large rocks and a couple of small rooms. However, as you start to walk around and indeed from the top of the site you get a really good view of just how big and important this had been. In fact the site used to be an amphitheater with underground galleries for ceremonial purposes, including an altar.
From Q’enqo we walked about 15 minutes to the last site, Sacsayhuaman or Saqsaywaman, depending on your origins. For me this is the most impressive of the 4 sites. Built over 77 years the gigantic fortress walls consist of almost megalith stones which fit together without any need for mortar. In fact the precision with which they fit together is truly impressive, especially when you consider the largest weighs 70 tons!
The site consists of 2 sides and you can walk through some of still standing doorways up to the top terrace which offers views across the city of Cuzco.
You can add a final site to your itinerary for free, the white Christ (Cristo Blanco). This is a statue that sits atop a hill opposite Sacsayhuaman and again offers visitors views across the city. As the weather was turning we skipped this and instead followed the path back down to Cuzco.