Exploring the Cusco Surroundings

08 Jun
Cusco Surroundings offer impressive ruins, saltpans, churches
Friday June 08, 2018 - Posted by to Cusco

Exploring the Cusco Surroundings

Cusco – the beautiful city, nestled in the Andes in Southern Peru – is the perfect starting point for hikes and visit to interesting Inca sites and beautiful nature. While traveling to the Sacred Valley or the Southern Valley, you can’t stop wondering about the impressive architecture of the Inca culture. Here are some tips for Exploring the Cusco surroundings.

First things first: Cusco Tourist Ticket

If you want to visit the archaeological sites in the surroundings of Cusco, first buy the tourist ticket or the so-called Boleto Turístico. I would recommend buying a ticket that is valid for ten days that will allow you to visit everything. The ticket costs S./ 130, however, if you have an ISIC student card, you only need to pay S./ 70.

Maras and Moray

For my first trip to Maras and Moray we left Cusco around 8 am. On our way to Moray, we stopped at a house in Chinchero where locals produce textiles. It was really interesting to learn how they dye wool of alpacas and lamas and how they produce clothes. After our short stop, we continued our ride to the archaeological site of Moray. Moray was the first site I visited during my stay in Peru, and it really impressed me: Moray is huge and resembles a kind of enormous amphitheater. The structures seem extraordinary as if they were not from this world.


Cusco Surroundings offer impressive ruins, saltpans, churches


Saltpans in Maras

After visiting Moray, we drove to one of the most famous places in the surroundings of Cusco. Although Maras is not included in the traditional Sacred Valley Tour, I think you should visit this place while staying in Cusco: the saltpans of Maras. Salt is still harvested from pools via evaporation. Even if the pools aren’t very colorful during the rainy season, it’s a perfect place to take some great pictures!


Cusco Surroundings offer impressive ruins, saltpans, churches


Sacred Valley of the Incas

My next trip was a day trip to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. We stopped first in the village of Pisac to see its craft market and jewelry stores. Our transport couldn’t enter the village because dancers and musicians were making a parade on the street; good for us, because we got out of the transport and were able to watch them celebrate. A great opportunity to enjoy the Peruvian culture and festivities.


Cusco Surroundings offer impressive ruins, saltpans, churches


Then we continued our trip to the archaeological site of Pisac. If you were already impressed by Moray, you will be overwhelmed by this site. Pisac is an enormous ruin and if you want to see everything, you need around 3 hours to explore the site because of the big distances between the buildings and the height difference. Since we did a guided tour, we only had around 45 minutes to visit Pisac on our own. This is why we only went to the upper part of the site. Climbing up the site was quite challenging for me, even though the ruins are located at around 2,900 meters and thus not as high as Cusco.


Cusco Surroundings offer impressive ruins, saltpans, churches


Lunch Buffet in Urubamba

After the climb, we got quite hungry. We made a stop in Urubamba to have lunch. Afterward, we drove to Ollantaytambo, another impressive and marvelous site. I can’t say which site I liked most. Both sites, Pisac and Ollantaytambo, are unique. We were lucky because finally, the sun came out. Remember that in Peru, you should never forget to bring sunscreen because you will only find a few shady places at the ruins.


Cusco Surroundings offer impressive ruins, saltpans, churches



Our last stop was Chinchero. This site is much smaller than the others in the Sacred Valley. Nevertheless, they have a beautiful church of the baroque period. The church with its nice wall paintings has never been restored. Because of that, the church exudes an ancient and cozy atmosphere.


Cusco Surroundings offer impressive ruins, saltpans, churches


Southern Valley

Our trip to the Southern Valley was planned for the next weekend. Our pick-up was at 8:50 am. With a small group, we went to Tipón first. Tipón is another archaeological site that provides an amazing view of the mountains. The guys in our group immediately said that the terraces of the ruin resemble football fields, but the guide explained that this wasn’t the purpose. In Tipón, you can still see the water basins of the Incan times.

Our next stop was in Andahuayllas where we visited another very nice church, in much better condition than the church in Chinchero. Last but not least we went to Pikillacta where we could marvel at ruins of the pre-Incan times. These ruins looked different compared to the Inca ruins, and we realized that each culture was unique as well as every ruin is unique.

Another trip review about the Southern Valley Tour here.


More to come….: Machu Picchu!

I just couldn’t stop being surprised in what good conditions all the ruins in and around Cusco are. Visiting the ruins near Cusco is an amazing experience that you shouldn’t miss. But someone advised us to visit all these ruins before traveling to Machu Picchu because Machu Picchu will probably be the most impressive and marvelous place you’ve ever seen!


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