Visit: Pisac Market, Central Plaza, Pisac Peru
The Pisac Market is one of the most famous markets in the Cusco region, drawing many visitors to its famous Sunday market when indigenous Quechua communities from the surrounding highlands come to Pisac to sell their produce and stock up on supplies for the week.
A large section of the market is dedicated to tourist-oriented souvenir stalls where you can find weavings, jewellery, ponchos, hats, Andean instruments, ceramics, alpaca products and a whole range of other gifts and souvenirs to take home with you. The handcraft market is open every day from 9am to 4.30pm and is a good place to pick up some gifts all in the one place.
If you want a more authentic and colourful experience, try and plan your trip to visit the market on a Sunday when the local quechua communities set up shop on the main square. Dressed in their colourful clothing, they sit cross-legged with their wares laid out giving the market an authentic feel. It’s definitely worth a visit but be warned this is a tourist hot spot so be prepared for savvy vendors, tour buses and tour groups.
The more unusual products you can buy at the Pisac market include natural powders in a variety of eye-popping colours that can be used as watercolour paint, colourful weavings and alpaca clothing.
Duration: 1 hour
Visit: Pisac Peru
Pisac was once the site of a vital Inca road which wound its way through the Sacred Valley to the borders of the eastern jungle. This made it an important connecting route for the Inca Empire and the city of Paucartambo– giving Inca Písac a strategic controlling point. With its elevated position, researchers believed the site served a defensive purpose, protecting the southern end of the valley. It was also an important agricultural sector and the terraces constructed on the steep hillside are still in use today. Another theory for its construction is that Pachacuti, for whom most archaeologists believe Machu Picchu was built, had it constructed to celebrate victory over a local ethnic group called the Cuyos. In either case it is unknown exactly when Inca Písac was built. Since it does not appear to have been inhabited by any pre-Inca civilisation, estimations are that it was built no earlier than 1440.
Duration: 1 hour
Visit: Archaeological Park Ollantaytambo, Ollantaytambo 08676 Peru
Both fortress and temple, these spectacular Inca ruins rise above Ollantaytambo, making a splendid half-day trip. (Admission is via the boleto turístico tourist card, valid for 10 days and for 16 other sites across the region.) The huge, steep terraces that guard Ollantaytambo’s spectacular Inca ruins mark one of the few places where the Spanish conquistadors lost a major battle.
Tickets & tours
Pumamarca Ruins to Machu Picchu 2-Day Trek with Ollantaytambo
Private Ollantaytambo, Pisac Ruins Tour with Farm Picnic Lunch
Machupicchu Day Trip From Ollantaytambo
MORE TICKETS & TOURS
boleto turístico adult/student S130/70
The rebellious Manco Inca had retreated to this fortress after his defeat at Sacsaywamán. In 1536 Hernando Pizarro, Francisco’s younger half-brother, led a force of 70 cavalrymen to Ollantaytambo, supported by large numbers of indigenous and Spanish foot soldiers, in an attempt to capture Manco Inca.
The conquistadors, showered with arrows, spears and boulders from atop the steep terracing, were unable to climb to the fortress. In a brilliant move, Manco Inca flooded the plain below the fortress through previously prepared channels. With the Spaniards’ horses bogged down in the water, Pizarro ordered a hasty retreat, chased down by thousands of Manco Inca’s victorious soldiers.
Yet the Inca victory would be short lived. Spanish forces soon returned with a quadrupled cavalry force and Manco fled to his jungle stronghold in Vilcabamba.
Though Ollantaytambo was a highly effective fortress, it also served as a temple. A finely worked ceremonial center is at the top of the terracing. Some extremely well-built walls were under construction at the time of the conquest and have never been completed. The stone was quarried from the mountainside 6km away, high above the opposite bank of the Río Urubamba. Transporting the huge stone blocks to the site was a stupendous feat. The Incas’ crafty technique to move massive blocks across the river meant carting the blocks to the riverside then diverting the entire river channel around them.
Duration: 3 hours
Visit: Complejo Arqueologico Chinchero, Chinchero Peru
Known to the Incas as the birthplace of the rainbow, this typical Andean village combines Inca ruins with a colonial church, some wonderful mountain views and a colourful Sunday market. On a high plain with sweeping views to snow-laden peaks, it’s quite beautiful. Since it is very high, it’s unwise to spend the night until you’re somewhat acclimated.
Duration: 1 hour
Visit: Parque Arqueologico De Raqchi, San Pedro Peru
One of the most interesting projects of cultural tourism in Peru is located halfway between Cusco and Puno close to the city of Sicuani. Spending some days there allows the traveler to discover a living museum, where ancient tradition maintains its validity in different forms of cultural expressions. Pottery, music, dances, gastronomy, clothing and the magnificent Inca temple dedicated to Wiracocha are part of the experience. The town of Raqchi belongs to the district of San Pedro, province of Canchis; it is located on the right margin of the Vilcanota River and it has an altitude of 3,480 m.a.s.l. (119 Km. south of Cusco - 2 hours by car).
The community is composed by eighty families, who work in agriculture, pottery and recently, in cultural tourism. The villagers own small parcels of land in which they cultivate potatoes, corn, ocas, tarwi, quinoa, ullucus and wheat for self-consumption. Due to the fact that this activity did not allow them to capitalize, they advocated themselves to a genius tourism venture that is producing important results. Most raquiños have higher education: they are either teachers, tourist or computer sciences graduates. This characteristic, which strengthens self-confidence, has been determinant when giving value to their traditional resources. The cultural project is associated to a process that seeks to rescue traditional attires, pottery, food and language. The concept of Raqchi is to transform the community in a living museum where the visitor can come close to authentic aspects of the Quechua culture, by spending some days with the inhabitants. For this they have built bedrooms and bathrooms adjacent to the family homes.
Duration: 1 hour