On our third day in Cusco we went for a short hike to Sacsayhuaman. It was only about a half mile up the hill from Cusco. Cusco sits at over 11,000 feet in elevation, so it’s the ideal place to get acclimated before the Inca Trail trek. The short hike from Cusco to Sacsayhuaman is also helpful for mild training for the trek. Plus, I needed a test hike in my new Vibram Five Fingers Treksports. The walk to the ruins was pretty easy and the uphill grade was gradual. My feet felt great in my new shoes all day.
We stopped at a church about halfway up the hill to look at the Llamas and back down at the city below.
Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire and Sacsayhuaman is a large fortress that sits on the hill overlooking the city. The walls were constructed using giant boulders, each carved to fit one another so precisely that mortar is not needed. The construction of the walls is impressive, especially when standing right next to a 10+ foot boulder that has been so expertly carved.
What remains of Sacsayhuaman are the rocks that were too big for the Spanish invaders to relocate to Cusco. The Spanish invaders took the rocks from Sacsayhuaman and used them to build and expand Cusco during their occupation of the city. What’s left is just a shell of the original fortress, but you can still see the zig-zag pattern of the walls, said to represent the jaws of a puma – one of the animals sacred to the Inca.
Afterwards we had lunch at one of the oldest pizzerias in Cusco, Chez Maggy, where we ate sandwiches and drank our first Pisco sour. I wasn’t a fan of the drink, though it wasn’t really bad, just kind of bland.
After lunch we did some shopping for souvenirs and got massages. In Cusco, you can’t walk 10 feet without being offered a massage. For s./25.00 for an hour, it’s also quite affordable.
It was Amanda’s birthday so we planned on having dinner at a fancy restaurant, Cicciolina. The food there didn’t disappoint. I ate a duck dish with chile cheese rice, and Amanda had a gnocchi dish. For dessert, we had a tart with crisp chocolate and basil ice cream. The ice cream was the highlight of the meal.
Not a bad way to spend the second to last day in town before starting the trek!