As I promised in the last article about what to visit in Cusco city, I´ll give you some advice about, what to visit near Cusco? To visit Cusco’s surroundings, it is advisable to take at least a week because it is worth to spend at least one day in each place.
There is a tourist ticket system in Cusco that includes the entrance to several archaeological sites and museums. There are two types of tickets: a full rate tourist ticket that includes all the archaeological sites and museums and a partial tourist ticket that allows the entrance to only four sites (BTC).
Here are the most important sites to visit near Cusco city:
The Sacred Valley is 60 minutes from Cusco city, it is a wide area with several archaeological sites to visit:
These ruins are at the upper part of the town of Pisac. It is one of the best-preserved Inca archaeological remains in Cusco. It is believed to have been a small city were the Inca royalty dwelled. It was a fortress that also had an impressive agricultural terrace system.
If you visit this archaeological site, I recommend walking through the streets of Pisac and visit its crafts market.
You can get there by public transport from Cusco city. The entrance fee is included in the tourist ticket.
This fortress is in the town of Ollantaytambo at the end of the Sacred Valley route. It’s an essential stop before taking the train to Machu Picchu.
Ollantaytambo was a military fortress from where the Sacred Valley was guarded and protected from any attack or invasion.
We can see vigilance posts that were never left unattended in front of the fortress.
There is public transport to get to Ollantaytambo. The entrance fee is included in the tourist ticket.
Moray is about 50 minutes by car from Cusco city. It is an Inca farming research complex that consists of platforms displayed in circles that create microclimates and different altitude levels where they grew different types of produce according to climate and altitude they needed. To get there you can take the public transport to the town of Chincheros and then hire a taxi to get to Moray. The entrance fee is included in the tourist ticket.
The Maras saltmines are on the way to the Moray archaeological complex, near the town of Maras. It is advisable to visit both sites in the same tour. These saltmines of pink salt have been exploited since the time of the Incas and they consist of more than 3,000 pools that belong to different families. The salt is extracted in a certain season of the year and it is sold right there or in supermarkets. To get to Maras you can take the public transport to Chincheros and then take a taxi to the saltmines. The entrance fee is S/ 7 (US$ 2.5) and it can be paid at the site.
Chincheros is about 40 minutes from Cusco city. It is a town that preserves its culture and traditions. Visit some of its wool dyeing, threading and weaving centres and walk through its streets and visit its church.
We recommend taking at least two days for these tours: a day to visit Chincheros, Maras and Moray and another day to visit Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Pisac and Ollantaytambo can be visisted before or after visiting Machu Picchu since the train station is in Ollantaytambo.
Besides of the mentioned places, several adventure sports excursions are carried out in the Sacred Valley: rafting, via ferrata, zip line, paddle, four-wheelers, bicycle riding, etc. I’ll write an article about these activities further on.
The famous Machu Picchu citadel is about four hours (by car and train) from Cusco city. It is believed that Machu Picchu was built by the Inca Pachacuteq as a place to rest. Only noble people, priests and aqllas (virgins of the sun) lived there.
From the moment you enter the citadel, you will be amazed, listening to its history and walking through its alleys. It’s an experience you won’t forget.
To get to Machu Picchu you will need to take a train. There are two train stations: in Poroy, 20 minutes by car from Cusco city or in Ollantaytambo, which is an hour and a half from Cusco city. We recommend taking the train in Ollantaytambo because you can carry out other activities before or after your visit to the Sacred Valley.
Once in the town of Machu Picchu or Aguas Calientes, you will need to take a bus to the entrance to the citadel. This ride takes about 20 minutes approximately. You can also get to the citadel by walking. The trek can take 2 hours depending on your physical condition. The entrance fee to Machu Picchu costs US$ 50 for foreigners.
The whole excursion can be made in a day, however, to fully enjoy this place, we recommend staying at least one night in the town of Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes).
There are other activities you can carry out near the citadel such as trekking to the Mandor waterfalls or visiting the Santa Teresa town to relax in its thermal waters.
Best known as the Rainbow mountain, it is located four hours by car from Cusco city and almost two hours if you go
on foot. We recommend hiring a tour since the access is difficult. The tour starts very early leaving the city at 4 a.m. approximately. There is a stop on the road to have breakfast. After about 4 hours, you will arrive at the trek’s starting point. The road is not very long, but the altitude and the cold weather make the trek a little bit difficult. Once you arrive at the top, you will be amazed by the 360° view of the landscape. It’s totally worth it.
After taking some pictures, your guide will tell you it’s time to begin the descent to your transport. On the way back, you will stop to have lunch and recover energy. You will arrive at Cusco at 6 p.m approximately.
The tours generally include transport, guide, breakfast, lunch and the entrance fee to the mountain.
The Huamantay lake and snow-capped mountain are northeast of Cusco city, four hours by car and a bit more than two hours if you go on foot.
Just as in the Winicunca mountain, it is preferable to hire a one-day tour that includes transport, guide, breakfast, lunch and entrance fee.
This trek is a little bit more difficult than the trek to the Rainbow mountain because the ground is full of stones and the soil is looser. We suggest taking a walking stick to help you and to have more stability
This is a very nice experience, even though the trek can be a bit exhausting, arriving at the lake´s shore at the foothill of the mountain will show you how beautiful our planet is.
In the next article, I’ll tell you more about other places to visit near Cusco that aren’t very known but are totally worth visiting.
Until the next article!
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