An Early Start

The following morning started early with the typical continental breakfast seen at the other hotels consisting of eggs hams etc. The only notable exception being the local flat bread, Pan.

As we’d be returning from the tour later after the checkout timing we checked-out and stored our luggage at the reception who tagged & stowed the luggage appropriately.

We were met by a member of the tour company who lead us out to the tour group.

The Tour Group

We were lead through the town square which was unusually congested by what seemed to be a school parade.

With some difficulty we finally reached the meeting point up a narrow street. But there was no bus in sight and it looked like this would be another delayed event. Thought within a short period of time more of the tour group arrived and followed another guide to the actual pickup point. We were introduced to our actual guide who spoke pretty good English despite the fact that this tour seemed to cater largely to domestic (and other Latin American) tourists.

The bus arrived and we were lead onboard to begin our tour.


The guide listed the items on our tour:

  • Sacsayhuaman
  • Puca Pucara
  • Q’enqo
  • Tambomachay

He started in Spanish and then repeated in English. He seemed pretty organized and knew his history quite well.

Stones of Saqsayhuaman

Just outside the city is the temple complex of Saqsayhuaman. This is a huge complex covering a large area of land, tho now only a shadow of its former glory, with many of its massive stones carted away by the Colonial Spanish to build many of cathedrals and public buildings of the Cuzco main square. However, much of the structure still remains and is a testament to Inca Engineeering.

We had a short stop at the park entrance to buy tourist tickets. We got a 10 Soles (~S$5) ticket which covered all the sights on our tour.

The stones are cut with laser precision and without the use of mortar. The guide corrected some inaccuracies people had of the site. Despite looking like fortress walls, Sacsayhuaman was never a military post. It was a site of great religious significance. The guide also noted that Incas always reserved their best stonework for religious and royal buildings and Military structures were usually of rougher build quality.

The guide delivered his analysis while leading us across the vast grassy patch that bisected the site.

After which we were given 30 minutes to explore the site on our own and rendezvous directly at the bus.

We climbed up to the top of the main complex following the trail markers and the steady stream of tourists that thronged the site (and most of the other sites on this tour).

There was a herd of llamas grazing on the field with no shepard in sight.

We boarded the bus and proceeded to the next sight.

Sacrifical Altar of Q’enqo

This was a more natural structure that seemed carved out of bare rock.

The guide said it was a sacrificial altar in which Inca priests would perform animal sacrifices.

It appeared as if minimal construction was used at this site and was fine demonstration of their use of natural materials as they lay (more examples of this would be seen at other sites on the tour and at Macchu Picchu itself).

Fort of Pukapukara

This was the only military encampment on our tour and the difference in the construction between it and some of the earlier religious sites did show.

The stonework was of a rougher quality and lacked the lase-fine precision of Saqsayhuaman.

The guide described the importance of this fort, one of many along the fabled Inca road that linked the Southern empire to its very heart, Cuzco.

This particular fort guarded the entrance to the valley and was strategically located by this narrow pass. The structure served a military function so the builders dispensed with the expensive precision masonry and followed a more practical one using boulders.

Though the engineering may appear crude in comparison to other sites, you could still spot some Inca skilled masonry with regards to building in unison with the landscape.

Fountains of Tambomachay -

Our final stop would be a very grand religious sight showcasing some impressive Inca Hydraulics.

The bus dropped us off at the entrance of the park. The site was 30 minute walk on a dirt road past llamas, mules and local shepherds offering to take photos with baby lambs (this was not surprisingly a tourist trap). Much like the ones we encountered in Cuzco city.

Taken in Cuzco city

The road was a bit inclined and although I’d hiked steeper inclines, the higher altitude did make this walk a bit more of a strenuous than a mere stroll.

We passed the 1st fountain head by the side of the road, discharging clear water into the drain that ran parallel to the road.

We also passed stalls selling Alpaca wool and native woven crafts.

At the end of the road we reached the site and strolled about while the guide waited for the rest of the group.

The number of windows & fountain heads apparently signified something important in Inca numerology, something that would be repeated at the Inca citadel of Macchu Picchu.

The site was well maintained and the Government had gone to some pains to keep the site in order.

The exact purpose of the site was unknown. Some say it was a temple to the water god, others say it was a Spa for the Inca elite. But it was clearly of high status given the quality of the masonry.

According to online guides, The fountains were supplied by springs high in the mountains. But our guide said the source of the water was unknown and had been flowing uninterrupted since Inca times and operated regardless of drought. Nonetheless the fountains seemed to be keeping the farms in the area lush with a steady stream of water.

After the guide concluded the tour he gave us 10 minutes to roam about before heading back to the bus.

Shopping stop for Alpaca Wool

As part of the tour we had a customary stop at a shop selling Alpaca wool. We browsed the goods and heard the saleswoman demonstrate how to identify 100% Alpaca wool from a synthetic and proceeded to burn a 2 samples with a lighter. The Alpaca wool survived the flame whereas the other did not.

The shops products were pricey and given it was an obvious tourist stop, we skipped on the purchases and re-boarded the bus.


The bus dropped us off at the same street we were picked up from as it was starting to get dark. Overall we were quite happy with the tour and at Sol 20 (excluding the Sol 10 park ticket) or less than S$10, it represented amazingly good value and an English speaking guide which was something we hadn’t encountered for most of our tour through South America. It goes to show the kind of deals you can get with a good hostel.

If time permitted we’d liked to have visited another site:


This fascinating structure contains several microclimates within it which apparently allow the growing of different crops within the same farm.

For those with more time I’d say there is sufficient places to visit in the Cuzco area to keep you occupied for a week (well until you get temple fatigue).

And the guide mentioned there were temple complexes located in the area that dwarfed Macchu Picchu, but we didn’t have the time to explore this region entirely but we think we did justice to our 2 day visit to Cuzco.

We returned to our hotel to pick up our suitcases and take a taxi to Ollantaytambo.