This tour slows you to let your inner archaeologist out as you travel to the ancient ruins of Sacsayhuaman (also spelled Saksaywaman) for a half-day of exploring. After the pickup in your hotel in Cusco, this guided tour will bring you to the archaeological park and several Inca ruins around Cusco in an air-conditioned minivan.
Your first stop will be Tambomachay, a natural spring that was worshipped by the Incas. The ruins consist of terraced aqueducts, canals and waterfalls. It may have served as a resting place for the Incas, though its main purpose was to defend the Valley of Cusco. Next up is Qango, a large maze-type ruin with a sacrificial alter at the center. Here, you’ll see spiraling staircases and secret passageways.
Sacsayhuaman Archaeological Park is the highlight of the tour. Here, the Incas leveled a mountain top and then built three huge walls. These walls served as the canvas for their drawings of snakes, condors and pumas on the large stones, some that are as high 10 meter (35 feet). The animals represent the three worlds of the ancient Incas. A large round structure may have been a solar calendar. The site, which offers grand views of Cusco, also consists of a 500,000-gallon water reservoir.
The final stop is the Tower of Puka Pukara, an Inca fortress with huge walls, staircases and terraces. The rocks appear red at dusk, which may be the source of the fort’s name. This fort was used to defend Cusco and the Inca Empire from invaders. It is a good example of military architecture, and also may have been used as a checkpoint to weed out undesirable travelers. The tour ends at your hotel in Cusco.