10 reasons to go back to Cusco, beyond Machu Picchu

Many of us have already visited Cusco, attracted by Machu Picchu, every traveler´s dream.

However, Cusco is a region with vibrant roots and surprising places of interest, which are constantly being put into value. In times of search for the natural and human connection it offers us numerous exciting options.

We would like to share with you some of the reasons to revisit Cusco. Not just once but many times.

THE RAINBOW MOUNTAINS OF VINICUNCA AND PALCCOYO

Vinicunca lies on the way to the snow-capped Ausangate, one of the tallest and most venerated mountains in the Andean cosmovision.  Together with Palccoyo, they are part of a spectacular mountain chain with incredible colors.

The first mountain, Vinicunca, is more famous and imposing, but also more physically demanding. Palccoyo, its younger sister, with its three natural lookouts, is more accessible. You choose which one to visit.

OLLANTAYTAMBO, THE LIVING INCA TOWN

Ollantaytambo is known for its impressive archaeological site, while very few explore the streets of this last living town of the Incas, the Qosqo Ayllu. Its stone walls guard places where time seems to have stopped. This special town is a perfect place to stay in, while exploring the nearby attractions: Pumamarca, Inti Punku, Huilloc, Pakaritampu, the Tunupa qolcas, among others.

 

INCA TRAIL: CHINCHERO TO URQUILLOS

Many of the Cusco area towns and villages are still connected by a network of ancient Inca roads and trails. One of such trails connects the Inca village of Chinchero to Urquillos, close to the sacred Vilcanota river. The trek begins through the Inca agricultural terraces and takes us through marvelous landscape dominated by the snow-capped mountains and ushnus (lookouts). It´s an intimate and authentic trek that lets us connect with nature and history.

TIPON: INCA AQUEDUCTS AND AGRICULTURAL TERRACES

This is one of the few places where you can appreciate the Inca hydraulic technique with such clarity. Small artificial waterfalls still harness the force of water to give life to the agricultural terraces. This is also a place of worship of the power and energy of water and its connection to life. A small Inca trail takes us to the upper part where we can find an Intihuatana (a solar clock) and the aqueduct that used to bring water to Tipon from the snow-covered top of the Pachatusan mountain.

WAQRAPUKARA, THE INCA ALTAR OF APURIMAC RIVER

This grand geological formation lies in one of the remotest corners of the Inca capital territories, in the heights of the Apurimac river canyon. It resembles two horns or “waqra”. Locals call it Llamapukara, due to its resemblance to the llama ears. Pukara means fortress in quechua. The manmade terraces around this site resemble a crown, which shows its importance as a site of worship and a star constellations observatory. Venture on a real adventure to see this site!

Q´ESWACHACA HANGING BRIDGE

This last Inca hanging bridge survived modern times and was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. A collective tradition come alive, it unites generations and families. Each year, during the first weeks of June, it is manually renewed, using raw materials. This unique bridge is 28 meters long and 1,20 meters wide, and it used to be part of the Qhapaq Ñan, the great road system of the Inca empire.

Live the unique experience and learn about this Inca legacy with the guardians of this bridge, the local communities of Perccaro, Huinchiri, Ccollana and Qqewe.

INTI PUNKU OF OLLANTAYTAMBO

One of those portals that teleport us into another time and dimension. The Inti Punku of Ollantaytambo (Inti “sun”, punku “gate”) welcomes us into places worth discovering.  The beauty of the landscape and the snow-capped mountains that seem to want to cross its threshold make this a truly memorable visit. One you must not miss.

HUILLOC, THE HEIRS OF THE INCA LEGACY

This ancestral community, very close to Ollantaytambo, is heir to the great Inca legacy which is present in its tapestry, traditions, and ways to cultivate the Pachamama (mother earth).  The Huilloc inhabitants are known for their colorful clothes, as well as life in harmony with their natural environment. Visiting this community and sharing experiences with its people will fill us with wisdom, joy, and energy. We will be reminded of the beauty of a peaceful life in close connection with nature.

FLIGHT OF THE CONDOR OVER THE CHONTA CANYON

The Peruvian Andes are home to the condor, the magnificent bird that reigns our skies. In the Andean cosmovision, this bird represents the upper world or “Hanan Pacha”. It´s the messenger of the Apus, the mountain gods, the porter of the solar light and the embodiment of the free spirit. The Chonta canyon is one of the condor habitats and the perfect place to witness its impressive flight.

HUCHUY QOSQO, THE LITTLE CUSCO

In the heights of the Lamay village, in the district of Calca, lies one of the greatest archaeological sites of the Sacred Valley, with its enclosures and walls that survived the Spanish conquest. It´s a beautiful place where history is present at each corner, and the silence reigns upon each step. Enjoy a real adventure!

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