Cusco, the captivating former capital of Incas is the gateway to the world wonder, Machu Picchu. The city houses many Incan ruins some which are not explored yet. Every year over a million travellers visit Cusco. Most, end up staying longer than planned. You can enjoy the mystical vibes and colonial architecture almost at every corner of the historic centre.
While one day tours like like Cusco City Tour and Sacred Valley Tour are popular, there are some lesser known sites on the outskirts of Cusco. You can easily visit them without a guide or transport. Infact, there is no entrance fees to any of these sites.
We have listed the three lesser known day treks in Cusco.
Amaru Markawasi is the Quechua term for Templo de la Luna. It is a massive carved rock amidst a field surrounded by mountains. The Incas built the temple sometime in 1438-1532 AD.
As farming was the main profession of Incas, they gave offerings to energy entities like the Moon, Sun and Mother Earth (Pachamama) to express their gratitudes for good harvest.
From the historic centre of Cusco it would take 40 minutes to an hour to reach the Moon Temple. Walk to Atoj Saykuchij Street in San Blas. From here, it is a steep climb up the hill. You will be reaching a paved road with a view of Cristo Blanco (Statue of Christ) at a distance. Continue on the paved road to Q’enqo. From Q’enqo it is a 10 minutes walk to the Moon temple.
Balcón del Diablo (Devil’s Balcony) is an archaeological site. It is located some 2.8 kilometres away from Sacsayhuaman. The Incas named this as Chakán which in Quechua means bridge. The name derived from the river that flows around it.
It sits up in a height from the ground. The view point can be reached through an easily accessible chasm. The triangular balcony offers a beautiful sight of Chakan river on the bottom.
The Incas, even the people today use this balcony to do the offering ceremony and to get a close contact with the sacred spirits.
Just around the main entrance of Sacsayhuaman, you will see a path that would go up the rock formations on the top of a hill. From the top, take the dirt road that goes along a lake. From there, continue on the dirt road until you will see a fork in front. Walk down hill and Balcon del diablo will be right in front of you.
Inkilltambo is a hidden gem. It was a place where the Incan messengers used to rest while travelling through the empire. It was also a burial site and a ceremonial place. The Incas worshipped their ancestors here.
The archeological complex is complemented by a series of rectangular enclosures, platforms and channels from the pre-Hispanic era. Chroniclers from the colonial era maintain that Emperor Wiraccocha built it with houses established near the Huaca. Later, the Inca Pachacutec carried out restructuring work in order to intensify religious ideology. The ceremonial site of Inkilltambo consists of large stones with various cavities. There are underground passages which connects them.
In Inkilltambo there are sectors with different uses: the first is the agricultural sector, prominent for the farming terraces. The upper part of the complex houses the ceremonial site, storage rooms. There are other structures whose use is not clear yet. Because of the recent restoration work here, visitors can admire complexity of the site. Despite of being small in size it boats an impressive stone work of Incas. Sadly, the importance faded away with time upon Spanish conquest. Thanks to archaeological investigations, it is now slowly getting the attention it deserves.
From the Moon Temple, walk back to the part of the road which splits into two. Take the one that goes a bit up the hill (towards Yucaypata). You will see Inkilltambo to your left down below. Then take the dirt road down the hill and you will be there.
Have you experienced any of these Day Treks In Cusco? Let us know your experience in the comment section below.