Today was our second and final full day in Cusco. I awoke feeling much better than yesterday but have decided to resume the acetazolamide due to my new perpetual headache. I sure do feel funny with lots of tingles all over my body; I’m not sure if it’s the medication or altitude, or combination of both.
In any case, I was able to join my travel mates for most of the day to explore a couple Inca sites.
Visiting a ‘Sexy Woman’
Sacsayhuaman, pronounced ‘sexy woman’, is an Inca citadel located on the outskirts of Cusco city. To get there, you can take an uphill walk of about 30 minutes from Plaza de Armas, or hire a taxi for a 5 minute ride up to the gate. We opted for the second option and paid 10 sols for the ride up.
We purchased entry to the complex via the Buleto Turistico, which offers access to several sites in and around Cusco for a period of 10 days. We will be using this pass for our upcoming Sacred Valley tour as well.
Sections of Sacsayhuaman were constructed by the Killke culture in approximately 1100, with the group having occupied the area since 900. Beginning in the 13th century, the Inca people began adding onto the complex by building walls with huge stone boulders. The exact method of construction remains clouded in mystery, as they seem to have managed stacking massive boulders atop one another without use of mortar or known machinery.
We were able to admire sweeping views overlooking Cusco and also make some failed attempts at jumping photos for Instagram posterity.
Then one of us went on a precarious slide down a rock.
We found some llamas hanging out as well.
It took us a couple hours to explore the entire site and then we walked downhill to get back into town. There were guides available for hire at the entry gate but we opted out of this. I suppose we’ve probably missed a lot of a detail around the history of this complex but I guess I’ll just do some reading in retrospect!
Seeing Jesus Christ
About a 10 minute walk downhill and then uphill from Sacsayhuaman is Cristo Blanco. This is a large white statue of Jesus Christ which sits atop Mount Pukamuqu.
Cristo Blanco can also be spotted from below in Cusco city and it is even lit up at night. Jesus watches over all of us. 🙌
Incan worship at Qorikancha
We spent the afternoon at Qorikancha, which consists of the remains of an important Incan temple. Initially named Intikancha, it was dedicated to the sun god Inti. Much of the original temple was destroyed by the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century, and all that remains today is the masterful stonework.
Speaking of masterful stonework – while walking to Qorikancha, we located the famous 12 angled stone found on a wall at the palace of the Archbishop of Cusco.
Translating to ‘golden courtyard’ in Quechua language, Qorikancha was literally surrounded by temple walls lined with 700 solid gold sheets. The modern day site is an odd combination of Incan and colonial architecture, as it also served as a foundation to the Santo Domingo church and convent. Inside, there are a number of art installations, including some contemporary work.
We also ventured down to the terraces and gardens to admire some flora and fauna.
Preparing for the Inca Trail
After our day of exploring, we headed to the Sam Travel Peru office to attend the group debrief for our upcoming tour of the Sacred Valley and then the short Inca Trail trek.
There will be 2 other travelers joining us tomorrow for the Sacred Valley and then an additional 5 people for our Inca Trail trek. Hopefully I will continue to feel better as we descend to lower altitude in the next couple days. We are also going to be soaking Mr. Chuckles in sunscreen due to a harsh lesson learned from our day in the sun near the equator. 🦞