Pisac the hard way

Pisac  is just one hour by bus from Cusco and is renowned for two things; its  Sunday market and its iconic ruins.

The last time we visited Pisac was on our first visit in 2008 during an epic and expensive whistle stop tour of the Sacred Valley by taxi. This time we jumped on a very cramped collectivo and 40 minutes and 3 soles later we were in Pisac’s amazingly colourful market square.

Notice the ladies eyes. Cataracts are a big problem here because or the incredibly strong sunlight at altitude.
Just a few of the huge variety of corn for sale
Fabric dyes


The plaza and surrounding streets were full of people, marching bands and dancers mostly in bizarre costumes. The whole town and indeed the whole valley was filled with the sound of their music.

Any excuse for dressing up and a parade!


Fabric dyes

Previously we did what most do and got our driver to drop us off at the ” top car park” to avoid the long hike up a very steep mountain to the ruins. This time we were doing it the hard way – hiking straight up, exploring the ruins and then back down. Although lower than Cusco, the walk involves ascending about 600 metres up some very steep paths and, even though we were well acclimatised, it was still a struggle at times!


After purchasing our “Boleto Touristico”  we set off upwards through a series of stone terraces. Before long we take a slightly wrong turn for an “alternative” route to the top. “Our” route is quieter and we see few other people along the way.PisacPisacPisacPisac

The views are spectacular and the walk would be worth it even without the ruins at the top. After 30-40 mins. we reach the mirador at the first summit where the ruins really start. Incredible  how the Incas  built such an impressive edifice in such an awkward location.PisacPisacPisac

This first “peak” seems to be mostly about observation posts and defence and there are superb views along to both ends of the Urumbamba valley – which presumably was the whole point of building an observation post here!

Pisac Plaza from the top

Wander around the ruins for a while we admire the stonework, the temples, the priest quarters and the inevitable sacrificial altar (complete with channels for the dispersal of blood).

We then make our way back down to the plaza to search out a return bus to Pisac. An exhausting but great way to visit to explore Pisac.

If short on time or not yet fully acclimatised,  there is always the easier way – a taxi will take to the  top of the ruins and collect you at the car park halfway down.


Pisac, Cuzco Region, Peru
Wednesday, July 17, 2013


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