Today's walk explores Cusco, and the streets of San Blas, before walking up and above Cusco to Sacsayhuaman, Temple of the Moon, Inkilltambo, and the stunning, nearby Incan ruins.
Starting near the Plaza de Armas (main center), enjoy discovering the locals streets of Cusco and San Blas, before walking to the nearby Incan ruins scattered up and above Cusco.
Before departure, take note of the museums and cultural highlights surrounding today's walk, such as the Cathedral Basilica (containing many famous paintings, including the "Guinea Pig Last Supper"), Museo de Arte Religioso and the Museo de Choco. Follow the ancient Incan road of Hathunrymiuoc "great stone street," to the plaza of San Blas, tucked up at the north end of Cusco. Take time to discover the 12-angled stones and Jack's café (a local favorite) to the Ingles San Blas, famed for its intricate pulpit. Explore this church, built in 1544 over an old Incan Temple dedicated to "Illapa - the god of thunder and lightning," to the shops and cafes lining the town's square.
Depart San Blas, using the same exit that the Incas used to go into the jungle! Walk a variety of terrain, including stairs, wooden bridges, single trek paths and dirt trails to the breathtaking Incan empire of Sacsayhuaman. Stand amongst these giant rocks, imaging the life and rituals of the Inca's dwelling within this citadel centuries ago. Continue onward to other significant ruins, including The Temple of the Moon and Inkilltambo.
Finish today's loop following ancient footpaths back to Cusco (arriving on the other side of town). Upon reaching the control "entrance gate" of the Archaeological Park of Sacsaywaman, a vehicle will be waiting to take you back to the center of Cusco for another evening of shopping, exploring or relaxing with a Pisco Sour.
There are plenty of great shops, vendors, markets and cafés to explore in Cusco before taking off on today's hike. The local market is a great place to purchase snacks (for cheap) before heading out, including bottled water, dried corn, dried fruit, nuts, coca tea and coca leaves (for treating altitude sickness). The market is also a great place to purchase last minute items that you may have forgotten - hats, gloves ponchos and warm layers.
There is also a great "modern-day," outdoor gear shop "Tatoo Adventure Gear Cusco," located near the Plaza de Armas for purchasing more heavy duty items (rain jackets, boots, backpacks and puffy coats), with brand names suchs as Osprey, Mamut and North Face. Prices are similar to those found in the United States.
The weather at this high of elevation changes rapidly, so please remember to pack extra layers and raingear. In addition, this loop hike starts at 11,152 feet, so pack plenty of water, snacks and your picnic lunch to maintain proper hydration and nutrition, and to set yourself up for success during the rest of your time in Peru. Please note that you can turn around and head back at any point, or call our local representative if necessary, making this hike as challenging or laid-back as you'd like.
Food & Drink
There are little to no restuarants along the route upon leaving Cusco. Make sure to pack purified water and snacks, filled at your hotel or purchased from shops and vendors, before starting toward Sacsayhuaman.
Please bring comfortable hiking clothes, sturdy hiking shoes, a backpack, water, packed lunch, raingear and layers. The weather changes rapidly in Peru and at this high of elevation (11,000 feet), so please pack accordingly for all possible weather conditions. Sturdy, waterproof hiking boots are strongly recommended, with hiking poles, as the hiking surface varies greatly from paved roads, dirt paths to slippery single-track trails. Sunscreen and a sunhat are highly recommended, even on cloudy days at this high of altitude.
Don't forget your camera, as there are plenty of opportunities on this hike for spectacular shots of Incan ruins and the colorful panoramic landscapes. Not excluding wild llamas and locals wearing beautifully intricate, traditional Peruvian clothing.
Forgotten or outdoor gear needs? There is a modern-day, outdoor gear shop "Tatoo Adventure Gear Cusco," located near the Plaza de Armas for purchasing more heavy duty items (rain jackets, boots, backpacks and puffy coats), with brand names suchs as Osprey, Mamut and North Face.
Points of Interest
The term Sacsayhuaman means in Quechua, "place where the hawk is satiated." The name was derived from the presence of these birds, but more importantly served as a ceremonial center for the Incans during the Incan Empire. Believed to have been constructed during the government of Inca Pachacutec in century XV, forty-percent of the structure still remains intact. It was estimated that more than 20 thousand men extracted the stone from the nearby quarriers to build the sacred buildings, towers, shrines, warehouses, roads and aqueducts. These master architects placed the stones so perfectly puzzled together (weighing 90-125 tons), that it is rumored that not even a piece of paper can fit through. Sacsayhuaman still remains a sacred Incan site, and an important aspect of Peruvian culture. Local and international tourists continue to flock to this impressive structure, including the stunning panoramas of Cusco and the summits of Ausangate, Pachatusan and Cinca below and beyond.
Temple of the Moon
The Temple of the Moon, or Salumpunku, still remains a mystery in relation to its massive rock outcropping (or a big hill with two caves inside), Inca stonework and placement to the sun and cycle of the moon.
The site of Inkilltambo consists of a large rock (with numerous carvings), surrounded by seven enclosures, patios and plazas where daily religious activities took place between 900 to 1200 AD. Accordingly to recent research, this temple was a sacred site dedicated to the care and reverence of mummified Incan leaders and dignitaries.