The Stones of Saqsaywaman.

The Stones of Saqsaywaman.

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.

Saqsaywaman Above the Sea of Red Roofs of Cusco.

Saqsaywaman Above the Sea of Red Roofs of Cusco.

Honestly, altitude is crazy! The simplest flight of stairs up to our hotel room winded us. It felt quite defeating considering we spent the weeks leading up to the trip training and working out a bit to be fit for the Inca trail.

The views alone are worth the price of admission!

Plaza de Armas and Cusco from Afar.

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.

We’ve Made It!

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!

Family Parading to the Top!

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.

Like a Microsoft Background!

Unique Construction and Design.

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!

Interlocking Stones are Amazing.

Love the Texture and Design.

Love the Texture and Design.

Ladder Amongst the Stones.

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.

Great Views Everywhere We Looked.

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.

Machu Picchu.

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.

Walkways, Doorways and Walls.

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!

Happy for a Picture Break to Catch Our Breath.

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.

Getting Closer to Cusco!

Highly recommend a stop to Saqsaywaman upon arrival in Cusco. Great for getting your bearings, an introduction to the culture and a major introduction to altitude!

Key details: 
  • 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.

More Peruvian Fun Below:

Peru Country Guide

Peru in 24 Frames

Exploring the Colors and Culture of Cusco

Feeding Alpacas near Cusco at Awana Kancha

Reverse Hike in Pisac

Mountain Biking Through the Peruvian Countryside

Micro Climates of Moray

Salt Mines of the Sacred Valley

So you want to hike for 4 days straight? Inca trail Days 1 and 2 baby!

Keep Hiking On! Inca Trail Days 3 and 4!

Visiting One of the New Wonders of the World – Machu Picchu!

Don’t Stop, Keep Hiking Higher – Huayna Picchu

A Night Under the Stars at the Skylodge

The Gateway to the Inca Trail – Ollantaytambo

Rainbow Mountains, a Colorful Day Trip!

A Child’s Dream, a Trip to Monkey Island – Peruvian Amazon

Peruvian Amazon, a “Relaxing” End to a Great Trip

Land and Water, Tambopata and Lago Sandoval – Peruvian Amazon


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