As I was spending over 3 weeks in Cusco I decided to get the tourist ticket for 130 soles (40 USD) so that I could go and see all the Inca Ruins in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. I had already seen them all 4 years previously on a tour but this time I wanted the option of spending more time and being able to fully explore them. I decided the first ruin I would visit was Pisac (or Pisaq in the local Quechua language), it is located 33km east of Cusco.
I decided to get the local bus so that I could spend as much time as I wanted there. The bus to Pisac leaves from calle Puputi which is just off Recoleta. It is about a 15 minute walk from the Plaza de Armas. The bus also passes Sacsayhuaman and the other Inca Ruins near Cusco if you want to get a bus to them. On Puputi street you will hear lots of men shouting “Pisac, Pisac”, these are the minibuses to Pisac which go quite frequently or when they are full. It should cost around 6 soles (2 USD) to Pisac and you can negotiate less if you are not going that far. The journey is normally around 45 minutes and they drop you off by the river in Pisac and it is just a 5 minutes walk to the entrance of the ruins. The minibuses return to Cusco from the same place. I love getting the local buses and meeting the local people, there normally isn’t any seat belts so maybe not too safe and you are crammed in with everyone but for me it feels like I am experiencing life there rather than being a tourist!!
As you get near to Pisac and are driving down the valley towards the river you can see Pisac high up on the mountain in front of you. It is an amazing site, you can see the farming terraces cut into the side of the mountain.
The town of Pisac is located at 2,900 metres with the highest point of the ruins at 3,400 metres, it is quite a hard walk up to see “Inti Watana” which is where the ceremonial platform and temple of the sun are, but you can rest, take lots of pictures and enjoy the amazing views.
Once you have walked through all the markets and parted with all your cash from buying some of the amazing clothes and trinkets they have in Peru, you will see the welcome to Pisac sign. The large market is open Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday though you will find a smaller market open on other days. You carry on up this path, where you will have your ticket checked before finally entering Pisac. It is open from 7am to 6pm so you have lots of time to explore this huge site.
It is not known when Pisac was built but it is not earlier than 1440 and it was destroyed by the Spanish in the 1530’s. It was a royal estate and as you are climbing up you can see the agricultural terraces that were built into the side of the mountain. The fertile soil was brought from the valley so that the crops would grow.
As I was walking up the mountain the views down into the valley were amazing, despite the rainy and cloudy day. I kept stopping to look and enjoy the views of the town and the river snaking through the valley.
As you are walking up the mountain you can see the towers from the citadel (the military part) above you. I continued upward not realising that these towers would mean I was only halfway up the mountain. It was around this time that the heavens opened and we had a heavy downpour. It is something I would get used to while being in Cusco, as it was the rainy season it would rain most days in the afternoon!! Generally between 12 and 2 which is not great timing when you want to go exploring!!
When I reached the military sector I had a walk around as there are lots of ruins in this section, though it is hard to work out what the buildings were used for if you are not with a guide!! There are people walking around who are guides but as I had done a previous tour I didn’t want to do another guided tour. It is thought that Pisac defended the southern entrance of the sacred valley, with Choquequirao the west and Ollantaytambo the northern entrance. The views looking down on the citadel are spectacular, even when it’s pouring down!!
As you are walking up the hill from the citadel you can see the main ceremonial plaza, so it was head down as it was raining so hard and a trek up another steep hill to the top.
At the top I had reached Inti Watana the religious part of the site. Here you can see baths, water fountains, altars, the temple of the sun. Though for me the higher section was closed off, I think because it was raining so hard.
After I had had a look around I had a sit down in a little covered area, the only area after the agricultural terraces with shelter, and tried drying off a little, reading my book and just enjoying the view.
After this it was back on with the waterproofs and down the mountain in the rain. There are a few paths so you can go down a different way to how you came up and see different parts of the ruins while you are going down. It would of been amazing to have been able to sit up here and enjoy the amazing views for a few hours but it wasn’t meant to be!! Maybe next time!!
Once I was back at the bottom it was a short walk through the town and back to the bus for the journey back to Cusco.
It is a great site to visit and the views are stunning and will be even more so on a sunny day, though you will need sun cream and a hat as there is very little shelter!! If you get a chance it’s worth a visit!!
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