Cuzco: Inca Ruins
To see Inca ruins near Cuzco requires hiking up to a series of four different sites. The cheapest way is to ride the public bus to the furthest site first, then work your way back to town. Tambomachay introduced us to the clever waterworks of Inca architecture. These fountains provide clear, running water year-round and function just as designed, centuries later. Puka Pukara (Red Fortress) sits across the street and may have served either as a guard post, hunting lodge, rest stop, or all of these. The views over Cuzco valley are unmatched here.
From here, there are two options to the next sites: walk for over an hour or hail one of the public buses. We crammed into a van with at least twenty people and got some curious stares from the schoolkids sharing the ride. The bus dropped us off at Qenqo, a religious site that centers around an abstract rock.
About a mile walk from Qenqo, Saqsaywaman is the primary Inca ruin near Cuzco. The city planners of Cuzco had designed the city layout to resemble a puma: Qorikancha was the loins, the main plaza the heart, and Saqsaywaman the head. Giant zigzag walls built with unfathomably huge rocks represent the teeth. This was the site of an epic battle where the Spanish barely survived thanks to the advantage of horses and steel. Once the Inca were subdued, the conquerors used stones from Saqsaywaman to build Cuzco, leaving only the stones too large to move.