Cusco – trek from the city center

During our trip to Peru, we stayed in Cusco for a few days. Cusco is well developed and safe compared to other large cities in Peru. The historic center is also full of tourists most of the time, so as a foreigner, one can feel very safe. We did, however, hear about robbery (a phone stolen from the pocket through a cooperation of 3 people with bad intents), so taking care and not flashing your expensive stuff is still advised.

Being a popular trekking base from which people are taking Inca treks to Machu Picchu, and elsewhere, Cusco offers some trekking possibilities also straight from the city.

Cusco city center
Cusco city center

Above the city, there is a Cristo Blanco statue (a white statue of Jesus Christ), which is easily reachable by walking from Plaza de Armas, the main square of the historic city center. From there, you can walk on a well walked path to Sacsayhuaman.

Sacsayhuaman is an impressive fortress which is built above the Cusco. It was partly built already in the pre-Incan era and is built of large stone blocks in the style of building that Incas used – by precisely fitting big stones together. The settlement is very big and very interesting to explore.

To enter, you can buy either a pass to this site only (around 80 soles per person) or a pass to 14 different sites in the Cusco area. We opted for the latter and it costed us 130 soles each.

An impressive Sacsayhuaman
An impressive Sacsayhuaman

Around 30 minutes of walking from Sacsayhuaman is Q’enqo. You can either take the most direct path to there which is by road or ask where to go on the trail at the entry on Sacsayhuaman and the kind people will explain you. It’s easy to find, well walked, a bit longer but much nicer than walking on the road.

Q’enqo is a sacred place for the Incas. You can learn more about it’s history here or hire a guide at the entrance. It’s a fairly small site, though.

Q’enqo the sacred place of Incas
Q’enqo the sacred place of Incas

Above Q’enqo, there are 2 more sites: Puka Pukara and Tambomachay. They are easiest reached by catching a bus or colectivo that passes from the valley (Cusco) in the direction of the sites. You can catch that bus on the main road, just at the junction where the road splits if you turn to Q’enqo. If you walked from Sacsayhuaman towards Q’enqo, you had to walk the last part on the road and had to leave the main road at some point. This is where you catch the bus to go to the further sites.

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If you reach Q’enqo by foot, it’s definitely recommended to catch a bus to the next 2 sites, as they are quite far away and the walk would be mainly by a road which sees quite some traffic.

The Puka Pukara is a fortress above Cusco with a nice view over the valley. You can’t see Cusco from there. Puka Pukara was once a military base and a part of a defense of Cusco in Inca times. From Puka Pukara, you can walk to Tambomachay, a small site with a water flowing through. It’s still not clear why exactly the site was used either for a military outpost or as a spa resort for the Incan elites or both.

Entery into the Puka Pukara
Entery into the Puka Pukara

From the top (at Puka Pukara), we caught colectivo back to Cusco, and finally, it has been a perfect trekking/tripping day. This is a perfect little trek which is super interesting and gets you ready for a bit higher altitudes. You will basically be moving between 3300m and 3800m above sea level.

Note that all 4 of the historical sites are located next to the main road heading from Cusco to Picas. So if you are not so much into trekking you can simply take a bus or colectivo from Cusco to the sites and back.

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Cusco - trek from the city center Cusco - trek from the city center


Author: Matic

Matic is tech startup guy who loves to spend time outside. In his free time he is an true outdoor freak – he tends to surf, run and ride a mountain bike, and in the winter time just loves powder skiing and snowboarding. Matic also loves to travel, often has to because of work, and even more often because he wants to 🙂

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14 thoughts on “Cusco – trek from the city center”

  • I really liked Cusco when I stayed there either side of the Inca Trail but I didn’t end up visiting these spots which is a pity. Sacsayhuaman looks cool and I do remember seeing the figure of Christ above the city. Could easily spend more time there if I return to Peru. Nice photos too by the way 🙂

    • Thanks! Yeah there is so much to do and see in Cusco, it’s hard to visit all the places. It seems there is never enough time to visit “everything” when traveling, especially when you have limited amount of time for traveling.

  • I hope one day we get to visit Cusco and Machu Picchu, thanks for sharing your story, sounds like an interesting town. Will pin for future reference 🙂

    • Yes,you should definitely visit Cusco one day you won’t regret it. We like Cusco very much, I think it’s because we felt very “homey” there 🙂 Actually it is our favorite town so far in Peru.

    • Yeah, Cusco is awesome 🙂 hehe…Thanks! Well we are traveling on a budget so always looking for cheap but adventurous! way to explore the destination.

  • I’ve seen a lot of Cusco lately through some blog posts and friends photos and it looks like a great place to visit. Interesting history, food & hikes, I think I’d love it. Some useful tips in your post to save time and good point re keeping valuables out of reach. Very cool. I’ll pin for when I go. 🙂

    • Thanks Shona! Glad you found some useful informations. Yes, Cusco is really a great place to visit – plenty to see and do, plus they have a very delicious food 🙂

    • Hi, Siddharth and Shruti 🙂 the pass is valid for 10 consecutive days, so more then enough time to visit all of the sights. Glad you find some useful tips!

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