There are many interesting archaeological sites to visit in and around Cusco. We were only able to visit a few in our last week but spent that time hiking, exploring and enjoying as much as possible. With our hostel just down the hill from Saksaywaman it was easy to hike up and catch a bus for a few soles to Tambomachay & Pukapukara and have a much needed break from the city. Tambomachay is known as “The Bath of the Inca” for its thermal waters that are funneled to the site from a nearby spring. One of the theories on the site was its use for the elite to bath and cleanse the body, mind and spirit of evil. Hiking past the main site at Tambomachay and exploring the hills beyond, we found numerous old structures and spent hours exploring with breaks for our packed lunch and snacks. The overhang we found halfway up the mountain was curious with years of built up smoke residue from its use and the site offered a spectacular view of the valley.
We only spotted a few other people while we were hiking. One was a sheep herder with his dogs and the boys enjoyed watching the dogs chase stray sheep back to where they belonged.
The boys had a good time flipping rocks over for giant spiders and one caused quite a lot of yelling and running when he was discovered. I did not participate in the spider search but enjoyed watching them run from the quick moving giant. There were also many cool cacti along our route that we had to avoid stepping on. This area is not good for flipflops and I was glad we left them at the hostel.
Acrossed the road from Tambomachay is Pukapukara, which is thought to have been used as the Inca Emperor’s hunting lodge or a strategic lookout post between Cusco and the Sacred Valley. We only did a quick walk through because the boys were begging to hurry home for dinner but the site was interesting and the view was wonderful.
Almost every place we have visited while around Cusco we have met people that are very enamored with the boys and especially Wren. They surround them asking to take pictures, pick them up and pinch their cheeks. My boys don’t care much for the pinching but seem to like the attention. Wren has taken to yelling “Hi!” and “Bye!” at everyone and enjoying the reactions to her greetings. At first I felt a bit awkward about the attention but am getting used to the fact that my kids do stand out being blond with blue eyes. They are a novelty here and Peruvians love kids and are very affectionate with them. So if visiting with children don’t be alarmed with this attention, it is very common.
The other place we went in search of was Qenqo, an interesting site believed to be involved in death rituals and possibly a place to store mummy’s at one time. The top of the formation contains a series of zigzagging steps and there are some tunnels and small caves through the center. We rode the cheap bus from Sacsaywaman and unfortunately arrived right in the middle of a convoy of tour buses. It was so crowded that we didn’t go on the upper half and missed out on it. We were herded through the tunnel in a tight line and quickly left afterwards. Luckily we discovered another site just below Qenqo that was empty of tourist due to the steep trail that led there and it was a relief to explore on our own.It was surrounded by a dry ditch and then a rock wall. I imagine this would make a good defendable location during a fight. There were some very interesting carved areas on top and we enjoyed discussing what they may have been for.
After we explored awhile we decided to try and find a way down the hillside to Cusco. It ended up being a fun hike through some woods, up a road and then the longest staircase any of us had ever seen. It descended to an area we knew and we were able to find our way to our hostel from there. Over all, another excellent day of learning to travel with some super awesome kids!