By: Roberto G. (México)
Hello friends, let me tell you that I did the classic tour of the city of Cusco with a tourism agency that I hired online. The visit was full of culture and history as I got to know important Inca constructions such as Sacsayhuaman, Coricancha, Tambomachay and more. In this article I tell you about my experience on this tour, the first one I did on my trip to Cusco.
City Tour Cusco
The Cusco city tour was my first experience in Cusco. After arriving by flight from Lima we had a difficult night due to the symptoms of altitude sickness. The next day we had already bought the tour online with the Machupicchu Terra agency. The truth is that the price was not the cheapest but I liked that it included everything, that is, the tickets, the transportation, the guide and we did not need to buy anything else. The next day, after drinking a hot chicken broth in the Cusco market, I felt better.
- More information: Some tourist agencies do not include tickets, so the price is cheaper. These agencies ask you to buy tickets on your own. This ticket is called ‘Cusco Tourist Ticket’ (it costs 70 soles). You also have to pay separately for the entrance to the Cathedral of Cusco (25 soles) and the Inca temple of Coricancha (15 soles). My tour already included all those tickets.
The Cathedral of Cusco
The tour started around 1 in the afternoon, already after my lunch. We meet the guide and the other tourists at the door of the Cathedral of Cusco. All together we entered there and toured its paintings, jewelry and sculptures. Everything was from the colonial era and you could see that it was very well cared for. So much so that we were not allowed to take pictures. I really liked his giant paintings that have a special meaning due to the combination of the Inca and Spanish cultures. I think we spent about 30 minutes in the Cathedral and then we went to the minivan that would take us to the next destination: Sacsayhuaman.
- More information: If you visit the Cathedral on your own, you can pay the ticket at the same entrance door that is on the right side of the main door, the largest one. It costs 25 soles does not include tour guide. But as they informed me, another option to visit the Cathedral for free is to go on Sunday mornings, which are the days when there is mass. This way you will be able to observe his paintings and sculptures without any payment but without making a lot of noise or taking pictures.
Sacsayhuaman is really surprising for its immense stones that form walls almost impossible to build. I was impressed by all its constructions of the first wall and the story that the Incas and Spaniards clashed there for control of Cusco. The guide allowed us free time to take the photos we wanted. He also gave us details of what Sacsayhuaman was like in the time of the Incas. He said that it was much bigger and that the Inti Raymi was celebrated there, the famous sun festival of the Incas and that the people of Cusco continue to organize today. We spent about 40 minutes there and then continued by minivan to Qenqo, the next stop.
- More information: Sacsayhuaman is very large and there is not enough time to cover everything with the tour of the city of Cusco. To get to the top you have to walk about 30 minutes on stone stairs. There is also another sector where there are Inca constructions such as the Inca throne or the slides. The guide says that the stones of Sacsayhuaman were used to build the Cathedral of Cusco. Incredible!
We arrived at Qenqo in a very short trip of only 10 minutes more or less after seeing Sacsayhuaman. The place is very small but nice. There is a huge carved stone where, says the guide, the Incas used to do their religious ceremonies. Unfortunately, we could not enter some underground galleries where ceremonial sacrifices to animals were made. I think that due to Covid 19 they no longer allow entry there. The guide also showed us photos and gave us information about all of Qenqo. It was a short tour, really, only 15 minutes I think. Upon leaving, we boarded the minivan that would take us to the next stop, Pucapucara.
- More information: The guide told us that if we wanted to return to Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Pucapucara and Tambomachay on our own the next day we had to buy the Cusco Tourist Ticket which costs 70 soles. This ticket includes those archaeological sites. I think it’s a good idea to buy this ticket if you don’t want to do the tour. It is cheaper but it does not include transportation and the tour guide. Well neither the Cathedral and the Coricancha.
We arrived at Pucapucara quickly, after a 15-minute trip from Qenqo. The place draws attention because it looks like a barracks, without important temples but with constructions with small stones. The guide said that the Inca’s troops rested there while the ruler was in Tambomachay. Yes, Tambomachay was very close, you could even get there on foot. Pucapucara and Tambomachay definitely had a relationship. The tour was only 20 minutes or so.
- More information: The guide told us that Pucapucara is crossed by an Inca trail. These roads also connected other important Inca sites such as Tambomachay (we will see it later) and the city of Cusco itself. The guide told us that those roads reached thousands of kilometers including the territories of Colombia, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador and more. Amazing!
After a minivan ride of less than 5 minutes we arrived at Tambomachay. We had to walk for about 10 more minutes to see its famous water sources. The guide gave us free time to take photos in this place, a very photographed site as he told us. In these sources the Inca carried out ceremonies of worship for the water. Something like a purification ceremony. While the Inca was in Tambomachay his troops were resting in Pucapucara. So it was a sacred place. It feels like a very relaxing place there. That is why I understand the Inca who would like to spend time in Tambomachay.
- More information: In Tambomachay we were surprised by the rain but we were prepared with our respective poncho. Some tourists didn’t have any so they had to take refuge under a tree and couldn’t take photos. Don’t forget to bring that and neither a hat or a hat because one time it rains and the other time it shines intensely. This is the climate of Cusco, an unpredictable thing.
The Coricancha was the place that I liked the most on the tour. It is in the same city as Cusco, so we had to return by minivan for 30 minutes or so. From the outside it looks great, like a castle. Then inside you already understand that it was a very, very important religious place. Its walls are well worked, almost perfect. There is a dedicated temple for various Inca gods such as the sun, moon, stars, and more. There is also a stone in the form of a table where llama sacrifices were made. The guide was very friendly throughout the tour. The minivan returned us to the city center where the tour ended.
- More information: With the Coricancha the tour ended, which began at around 1 in the afternoon and ended at around 6 at night. As I said it included everything so I didn’t need to buy anything, just some souvenirs in a store. The guide Fernando was very kind and in the end we evaluated him favorably. That was my first tour in Cusco. Later, the tour to the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu would come, but those are other stories that I will tell you later. Thanks!