Saksaywaman is a perfect destination for kids offering a great opportunity for the them to run free after the confinement of the city. Our hostel was already half way up the hill to Saksaywaman and so we decided to make a day of hiking and exploring the ruins. There are different options for the entrance fee but we chose to pay the 130 soles for the ten day pass to all the archaeological sites through the sacred valley. We packed drinks and snacks and headed up the hill with an only mildly whinny Rex. The hike took about 20 minutes and pretty quick we were rounding a corner to the ruins and it was better than I though it would be. The site has quite an interesting history that goes beyond the start of construction of the stones by the Killke culture around 1100. The area was expanded by the Inca culture around the 1300’s to include the huge stones that were crafted so precisely that no mortar was needed causing them to last through the centuries despite the frequent earthquakes of the region. Even my children appreciated the craftsmanship of the rocks and how tight they fitted together. The first part of our visit was spent exploring the upper carved wall and admiring the stones. Apparently there used to be two huge towers and much more to the site but after 1536 when Manco Inca lay siege to Cusco, the Spaniards wanted to remove all evidence of the Inca empire and demolished much of what they could of the site, including the towers. The stones were carted down to Cusco and incorporated into the homes and religious sites that the Spaniards built.
I couldn’t get enough of the rocks! I walked around touching them and admiring the shapes and ways they fit together. It wasn’t long before we reached the end of the walls and wound our way to the large grassy area. Here the kids ran and jumped and were happy to have some freedom that they had been lacking in the city. We were met by some lamas and enjoyed watching people try to get too close to them resulting in agitated lamas.
This was the friendlier lama of the bunch and he didn’t even spit on us.
There are two other features to Saksaywaman that were a big hit with the kids. The cave and the slides. The slides look to be a natural formation that I have seen in Alaska when glaciers leave gouge marks on rock hillsides after years of forcing rock and ice acrossed the land. At first I thought they were man made but the whole hillside had gouges and striated markings that looked more natural to me. I am by no means an expert and I am just guessing but the important thing is that they are awesome. We spent a long time there while the boys went up and down, Wren brought me piles of rocks( its her new favorite thing to do and very fitting since I’m from a family of rock hounds) and Russ and I lounged in the sun.
And then there was the cave. Russ took the boys through the cave a few times without me but then the boys wanted me to go through and I gave it a try. That kind of thing used to be fun for me but last year I made the mistake of going through a much too confined hay maze that was only navigable on hands and knees. The flashlights left me behind and I was stuck in pitch black crawling through in quite a panic. Now tight spaces make me very uncomfortable and it sucks. Anyways, I went through a few times and while it made my belly tight and I struggled, at least I did it. Maybe if i keep trying that panic will slowly fade? It was nice to see my boys enjoying the excitement of the dark and creepiness as they led me through by the hand. Really, this place was as much fun for them as me and it was such a nice day exploring and hiking that I couldn’t recommend it more.