How did they build this thing without metal tools?
Enjoy the morning by gentle horseback riding, which is a superb introduction to the Inca heritage of Peru. (No experience is needed and a support vehicle is on hand at times to take any non- or weary-riders.) You'll meet your mountain horses on the plains above Cusco, then after an instruction in the art of riding, start with a short ride to a large outcrop of rock known as Salumpuncu, or the ‘Temple of the Moon.' This ruin demonstrates the Inca’s impressive skill with stone. You can see how they manipulated the naturally occurring features of this huge rock into caves, seats, carvings, mummy-niches and an altar that is supposed to be bathed in moonlight on the full moon of the winter solstice. Next you'll cut across country following an old Inca road from Cusco towards Pisac. The traditional farming methods and highly adapted Andean crops are a treat to see still functioning.
Meet your vehicle for a short transfer to visit the site of Puca Pucara. This delightful ruin on a small prominence is now believed to be a ‘tambo,' a rest house for traveling animals, goods and travelers, rather than the ‘red fort’ its name suggests. From here you visit the Inca ruin of Tambo Machay. This is popularly called the Inca’s Bath due to its finely preserved waterfalls, carefully diverted through fine stone channels. The Incas acknowledged water as one of the principal elements of life and revered it accordingly.
Meet your horses again and ride far from the standard tourist route, off into the hills where you can enjoy beautiful scenery and great views down the Cusco valley. Visit another interesting Inca site called “Balcon del Diablo," before enjoying a late picnic lunch.
In the afternoon, time permitting, you can visit the fascinating Qenqo. This ‘waca’ contains some of the finest examples of Inca carvings in the area. The eroded limestone fissures have been artfully carved into zig-zag channels (from where Qenqo derives its name), pumas, condors, snakes and houses. Bountiful mummy niches in the caves, an amphitheater and the central phallic column all add to the mystery of its multi-functional use.
You can also visit the most stunning of Cusco’s ruins, Sacsayhuaman. Although the smaller stones of Sacsayhuaman were used to build modern day Cusco, the remaining stones are up to 8.5m high and weigh over 360 tons. The distinctive zig-zag ramparts are attributed to being puma teeth, lightning and also fortification. This major centre obviously had many functions with storehouses, administration buildings, a reservoir and a play area. It was also site of a crucial battle between the Incas & the Spanish. After a tour here, climb aboard the waiting vehicle and return to your hotel.
- Casa Andina Private Collection (or similiar)