Sexy women, that’s what I heard when our guide picked us up at the Cusco airport and went over the itinerary for the day. Cusco sits at an altitude of 11,200 feet which is about 11,000 feet higher than altitude we each reside at. In an effort to acclimate and avoid altitude sickness it was recommended for us to get out and moving as much and as soon as possible. Spoiler alert, we still got a little sickness.
The views alone are worth the price of admission!
The idea of starting the trip with Saqsaywaman is to be driven to the top and then walk down and through Cusco, this is to get you moving but in a downward direction so you don’t exert too much energy. Loved the idea especially because it would take us to a higher vantage point to get our bearings in a new place. I’m always excited to get out and to the sights as quickly as possible. Aside from altitude in this case it also helps combat jet lag and get on the new time schedule.
JJ, drove us up and up the windy roads of Cusco past several local parades and dropped us right at the gated entry to Saqsaywaman. Super convienent if you ask me. We saw several families parading up the steep hills as part of their festivals and I was quite happy to be in the van and not hiking at those angles!
Saqsaywaman is a citadel on a plateau overlooking the entire city. Different legends surrounding why the Incan people chose this location but it’s said to be where they felt the head would be if the area currently known as Cusco was shaped like a Puma. Also the high vantage point allowed protection and good visibility of the surrounding area, any one or animal coming as a threat would have quite the climb up which would allow plenty of time to spot them.
The stonework is legit amazing. This alone showed why this unique location is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. They stacked and balanced these massive stones without the use of mortar. The stones were fit together so well that not even a single piece of paper can fit between them. The stones are huge, and plentiful, how the heck did they get these all up here? I’d only imagine Incans to be so incredibly fit!
The views alone were worth the price of admission, overlooking the sea of red roofs of Cusco was so nice and it was nice to get the directions pointed out and an idea of where we were in relation to where we would be heading over the next couple weeks.
Many families were also enjoying Saqsaywaman and marveling at the construction which is always nice to see. Some families even had picnics set out and we could see where they were getting ready to set up for Inti Raymi which is the festival of the sun that happens at the end of June.
A wonderful overview of Peru in 24 Frames, You can see that overview here.
Our guide, Edith, was so great. She went over lots of history and pointed out the different elements of construction that have allowed this citadel to stand through earthquakes and the elements for centuries. It was all quite fascinating and a great introduction to Peruvian and Incan cultures.
There’s not many steps and not steep hills but just walking around at the top of the hill we could feel the shortness of breath and extra effort needed to get our legs to move. This whole altitude thing is really no joke!
When we started walking down the hill towards the city we were quite happy to be heading down and not the other way! This was making us a bit nervous for the Inca Trail to come.
- Sacsaywaman opens its doors from 7 am to 6 pm
- To visit Sacsayhuaman you need the Tourist Ticket of Cusco.
- Different tickets are different prices and include many sites in the Sacred Valley, $21 USD to $40 USD
- Get driven to the top if possible.
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