When planning a trip to Peru, the first thing most people look at is usually in what way they are going to see the epic Inka Ruin of Machu Picchu. This is completely understandable as the camino inca must be one of the best things I have ever done.
HOWEVER Cusco and it’s most popular destination are really quite expensive and when travelling on a budget this can cause a real dilema. I recentely returned to Cusco with a friend at the end of their trip and we faced exactly this problem. With very little money left and a strong desire for an Inka fix we decided to invest in the Cusco ‘boleto turistico’ and check out some the other surrounding mysteries….
I was worried this was be a disappointing alternative for my friend but there was really no need for concern. The tourist ticket is also pricey when on a budget at $45 but it lasts 10 days and there are a lot of adventures to be had during that time.
With 3 days, we managed Saqsayhuamán, Q’uenqo and Ollantaytambo, but my absolute favourite was Pisac. It was like a mini one day Inca trek in itself. It is hardly a secret as many tour buses were there with people seeing the main site at the top, but travel it independentely and you can do your own mini trek down to the village (or up if you are one of those energetic people) discovering many more hidden treasures along the way.
A nice thing about this walk also is that very few people seem to do it so you really get a very peaceful private day, and as much time as you want to look around the ruins without being disturbed by a bus load of tourists all peering at the same stone. We encountered just 5 other people after we had left the first site.
Really anything Inka is incredible and this experience proved its not essential to spend a fortune on Machu Picchu if this isnt an option for your budget. Afterall, In Machu Picchu you will be lucky not to have 5 people standing on your foot at the same time it is so crowded. (That said, do go if you ever have a chance!!)
The moral of the story is that Incas are awesome – I mean really how did they get all those ludicrously massive stones up those enormous hills!?!
TOP MONEY SAVING RESTAURANT TIP… (just in case anyone in Cusco actually reads this!)…
… Much cheaper than the expensive tourist restaurants in Cusco – we found a great menu on the walk up to Saqsayhuamán. Just 8 soles with 3 courses and a drink. The restaurant doesn’t have a name, but has big wooden tables and it on the righthandside on the hill…
… the best juice in town (in my opinion) is in the large market near Avenida del sol. Several ladies making mixed juices in the comida section at the back – we went to to the one furthest on the right. Amazing orange and pineapple juice jug for just 5 soles. If you speak spanish she’ll give you some good bus tips too!