Today´s walk explores Cusco, the streets of San Blas and the backyard of Cusco, crossing the Archeological Park of Sacsayhuaman, where you will find the Temple of the Monkeys, the Temple of the Moon, Inkilltambo and incredible Andean views.
Hike from to Plaza de San Blas, a pretty, bohemian square surrounded by cafés, artisans and historic churches. Walk through the district of San Blas to get entangled in one of the main outposts of the Incan empire, Qapaq Ñan (Quechua name for the ancient (pre-Inca and Inca) network of trails crossing the Andes from Ecuador to Argentina).
Leaving Cusco, we will cross a eucalyptus forest to meet the first of four ruins of the hike, the Temple of the Monkeys (Cusilluchayoc in Quechua). Continuing along the same trail, we will find the enchanting Temple of the Moon and Inkilltambo, a purely religious and ceremonial "Huaca," where the Incas guarded their ancestors. Taking as much time needed to rest and explore these ancient Incan ruins, we make our way through the last sector of the walk to the district of “Alto los Incas”. Here, your vehicle awaits for a transfer back to Cusco and the center of the city.
Before departing for today's hike, make sure to have grabbed your packed lunch from hotel. Along the way, there are various local vendors that offer delicious, fresh juices (such as the San Pedro market or the San Blas market), and many cafés offering different styles of Andean breakfasts servingly only local products.
There are plenty of great shops, vendors and markets to explore in San Blas before taking off into the countryside behind Cusco. The local market is a great place to purchase snacks (for cheap) before heading out, including bottled water, dried corn, dried fruit, nuts, coca tea and coca leaves (for treating altitude sickness). The market is also a great place to purchase last minute items that you may have forgotten - hats, gloves ponchos and warm layers.
If needing gear, there is a great "modern-day," outdoor gear shop "Tatoo Adventure Gear Cusco," located near the Plaza de Armas for purchasing equipment and heavy duty items (rain jackets, boots, backpacks and puffy coats). With brand names suchs as Osprey, Mamut and North Face. Prices are similar to those found in the United States.
In addition to the Macs Adventure Navigation App, you will be provided with an INREACH, double communication system via Garmin, so you can communicate with our local representatives in Peru. If you have any urgency, please do not hesitate to contact them immediately.
If you become ill (due to altitude), or do not feel comfortable on the hike, do not hesitate to go back to the hotel or explore the local districts of Cusco instead.
The weather in the Andes and at this height of elevation changes rapidly, so please remember to pack extra layers and raingear. In addition, this loop hike starts at 11,152 feet (3,399 meters), so pack plenty of water, snacks and your picnic lunch to maintain proper hydration and nutrition (and to set yourself up for success during the rest of your time in Peru). Please note that you can turn around and head back at any point, or call our local representative if necessary, making this hike as challenging or laid-back as you'd like.
Food & Drink
Hydration on the mountain is constant, so do not forget to refill your personal water bottles, Camelbak or hydration system. We do not recommend extracting water from small river channels to drink.
There are little to no restuarants along the route upon leaving Cusco so make sure to pack your lunch and extra snacks, purchased from the hotel, shops and vendors, before starting your hike.
Points of Interest
The Temple of the Monkeys, or Cusilluchayoc, is a Quechua word that when translated into English means "a temple or place that has monkeys." This archaeological complex was carved from giant stones of almost two meters high, in which you will find symbols and drawings of snakes and monkeys carved into its rock walls (in which it is believed to have been given this name). It is said that this complex served as an astronomical center and worship of "small" stars.
Temple of the Moon
This temple was one of the "Huacas," a magical shrine where the Incas celebrated rituals in honor of the moon. This natural rock structure consists with a man-made altar inside one of its passageways, when during certain times of the year, the light of the full moon shines directly upon its altar. A few years ago, archaeologists found here the bodies of eight children who might have been sacrificed in Inca times. These children could have been the servants or Capac Qochas of Amaro Topa Inca, Pachacuteq´s offspring and Tupac Yupanqui´s brother.
Inkilltambo is the best preserved archaeological complex on today's route. According to the chronicles of the colonial era, this ceremonial "Huaca" was built during the Inca Wiracocha government. Within it you can find carved rocks connected by narrow passages, as well as rectangular enclosures, platforms, fountains, stairways and canals of the pre-Hispanic era. With the Inca Pachacútec, Inkilltambo was restructured with the purpose of intensifying religious worship in the area.
Please bring comfortable hiking clothes, sturdy hiking shoes, a backpack, water, packed lunch, raingear and layers (preferably use breathable fabrics like Nylon and Polyester). Sturdy, waterproof hiking boots are strongly recommended, with hiking poles, as the hiking surface varies greatly from paved roads, dirt paths to slippery single-track trails. Sunscreen and a sunhat are highly recommended, even on cloudy days.
A small backpack or day pack will be enough for today's hike, and make sure to fill your backpack with all the necessities before departure.
Don't forget your camera, and an additional energy charger, as there are plenty of opportunities on this hike for spectacular shots of Incan archaeological ruins and the colorful panoramic landscapes, not to mention llamas, scenic farmlands and locals wearing beautifully intricate, traditional Peruvian clothing.
Forgotten or outdoor gear needs? There is a modern-day, outdoor gear shop "Tatoo Adventure Gear Cusco," located near the Plaza de Armas for purchasing more heavy duty items (rain jackets, boots, backpacks and puffy coats), with brand names suchs as Osprey, Mamut and North Face.