Guide to Visiting Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Puka Pukara and Tambomachay
A visit to the Sacsayhuaman ruins is a must from Cusco, and is a perfect short morning or afternoon trip. Sacsayhuaman, and their partner ruins of Qenko, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay, are the closest ruins to Cusco and easily accessible by taxi, bus, or even by foot from Plaza de Armas in Cusco’s city center.
How To Get There
By Taxi: the easiest way to get to Sacsayhuaman is to grab a taxi from Cusco. The drive is only about 10 minutes and should cost 10 soles or $3 usd. Many taxi drivers will try to convince you to hit all 4 ruins at once with them for a set price of 40 or 50 soles, or $13 to $16 usd. This can definitely be a good choice for convenience alone. Otherwise, it’s possible to visit them all for a much cheaper price by using separate taxis (all the ruins are situated along the main highway to Pisac so it’s easy to grab a new taxi each time you’re finished at a certain ruin.)
By Foot: You can walk from Plaza de Armas to the first ruin, Sacsayhuaman, by taking the road that runs along the right side of the Cathedral, and then turning left on Choqechaka road. Walk along the road and then take a right on the Atoc’sekuchi staircase. Climb the staircase until you reach a main road, where you will turn left. Walk along the road for a few minutes, and you’ll see the Cristo Rey statue. Turn left on the gravel road just past it and continue along it through a field to the entrance to Sacsayhuaman.
Read more about the hike to Sacsayhuaman and Cristo Blanco.
From Sacsayhuaman: By taxi to Qenko costs about 5 soles/ $1.50 usd. After exploring it, take another taxi to Puka Pukara for 8 soles/ $2.25 usd more. From Puka Pukara you can walk to Tambomachay. You can also rent a horse from vendors at the entrance to Sacsayhuaman to take you from Sacsayhuaman to the rest of the ruins.
Return to Cusco: Grab a taxi for the return or flag down the next bus passing by Tambomachay. Returning to Cusco by bus only costs one sole each.
The tourist ticket, or Boleto Touristico in Spanish, can be a little confusing. You can’t buy single entrances into Cusco’s ruins, you can only by the tourist ticket for one, two, or ten days that grants entrance to multiple popular ruins. Sacsayhuaman, Quenko, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay are among them. The ticket can be bought on site at Sacsayhuaman or any other ruin that requires it for entrance. Read this Guide to Cusco’s Tourist Ticket and make sure you know which one you want to purchase before you visit the ruins.
Sacsayhuaman is the first and largest of the four ruins. The Incan stone walls are massive and still well maintained, and walking among them leads to an amazing view of the city of Cusco.
Quenko is the smallest of the four ruins. It was built as a house and ceremonial site for an important Inca citizen. The home was built into a large rock, where you can still visit the cold ritual alter inside.
Puka Pukara, though small, also boasts beautiful panoramic views of the mountains surrounding Cusco.
The final stop of the four ruins, Tambomachay is set back into a quiet mountainside with bubbling streams, and is thought to have been built to worship the God of water. Running water still flows through the aquaducts in this ancient and peaceful Incan ruin.
Just across the street from Quenko is a beautiful fifth ruin that is free to access. Walk through a forest to check out the quiet but imposing ruin, the perfect place for a picnic on a budget.
Visiting Sacsayhuaman, Quenko, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay is a quick, easy, interesting, and beautiful half day trip from Cusco. Have you seen them all? Comment below and tell me which one was your favorite!
All my love,