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What started out as a little venture to Pisac, Peru in the Sacred Valley, turned into a random and unexpected adventure. One of the many on my South America journey and one of reasons I love travelling solo.
I knew that Pisac, Peru was well known for its Inca ruins (Inca Pisac) and market but I didn’t know there was a hiking trail between the Pisac Inca ruins and town. And, that my day trip from Cusco to Pisac would turn out to be one of the highlights of my trip.
Encountering another solo traveller we embarked on an adventure together which became the highlight of my visit to Pisac Peru.
1. Getting To Pisac Peru From Cusco
I decided to take the local bus from Cusco to Pisac Peru.
I hopped a taxi from my hotel in Cusco to the local bus station. The taxi driver had his hard-sell pitch on repeat. I gracefully declined his offer to drive me to Pisac Peru with some sightseeing along the way.
At the bus depot the sounds of “Pisac!” “Pisac!” “Pisac!” meant there was no confusion as to which bus to board to get me from Cusco to Pisac.
The bus station in Cusco appears, in this errant traveller’s opinion, to consist of buses randomly lined up on the side of the road. The buses range in all sizes and colours. One thing they all have in common? They are old.
I found a window seat in the nearly empty bus. As the “ticket man” made his way down the van aisle, I fished my cash out to pay. A mere 3 Peruvian soles (S/3) ($1 Cdn) to get all the way to Pisac Peru.
There were not too many people on the bus as we steadily climbed our way up, up and up out of Cusco. From Cusco to Pisac Peru, the bus passed Inca ruins, picked up ladies at the side of the road burdened with their large bundles of goods to sell and before too long (about 45 minutes) we were descending into the Pisac Valley and the town of Pisac.
The Peruvian ladies all beckoned to me to get off the bus and so I descended with them, not 100% sure where to go. I crossed the bridge towards what looked like the centre of Pisac.
Ways to Get From Cusco to Pisac:
- take a taxi to the Cusco bus station (buses parked on the road) and find the bus to Pisac
- take a colectivo from calle Puputi in Cusco
- take a taxi, this will be much more expensive
- take an organized tour
2.Getting From Pisac Peru To The Pisac Inca Ruins
The streets of Pisac were rather deserted. I found two cabs minus their drivers. I waited, knowing I was not going to walk the 3 km UP to see the Pisac Inca ruins.
A cab driver finally appeared and, price list in hand launched straight into the cost to get to the ruins. S/30 ($12 Cdn). One Direction. I am still learning to drive a hard bargain but refused his offer as my two Mexican friends had only paid S/20 ($8 Cdn) the previous week.
Shrugs of shoulders.
After what seemed like a long time, the driver motioned to a young man standing on the street corner a block away.
Good thing I understood the Spanish word “compartir” (to share). I jumped at the chance to share a cab.
Crossing the street I was struck by how serious and a little tough the young man appeared. He negotiated even further and we hopped into the back of the car. No working seat belts, of course.
Sebastian was a Swiss student who had been studying in Santiago, Chile and was quite adept at bargaining.
Sebastian and I chatted as the taxi climbed up towards the Pisac Peru ruins taking in the spectacular views of the agricultural terraces.
The cab driver was insistent on waiting for me but, not one for schedules, I refused.
Ways To Get From Pisac To the Pisac Peru Ruins
- hike both ways – this is a very steep hike with glorious views
- hike up to the ruins, taxi back
- taxi to the Pisac Inca ruins, hike back down
Note: As mentioned above, the taxi rates vary and are expensive. It’s better to share a taxi ride. Decide on the price before you get in the cab.
3. Pisac Peru Ruins | A Fine Archaeological Site
The Pisac Inca ruins are perched along a mountain ridge with commanding views of the valleys below. With this strategic location, it is thought that the Inca settlement possibly guarded the south entrance to the Sacred Valley.
The archaeological site, Inca Pisac, is spread over a large area and includes a military zone, a living sector for the inhabitants, a ceremonial centre (including a sun temple) and an agricultural area. Pisac Peru is also known to have one of the largest Inca cemeteries. Look behind the settlement to the mountains and search for the holes in the mountainside. That is where the bodies were buried.
The Pisac Peru Ruins sit at 9751 ft (2972 m) above sea level. Be prepared to be out of breath as you climb your way up to the citadel.
At the top, I ran into Sebastian who had been looking, with no success, for the path back down to Pisac. Quite frankly, I was out of breath, tired and ready to call it a day. BUT, always up for an adventure, I told Sebastian that I would look with him.
4. The Highlight of Pisac Peru | Hiking Back to Town
What ensued was a 90-minute hike with striking views of the Pisac Inca ruins and the Andes. If I had had any doubts upon starting the hike, the views and the energetic company of Sebastian inspired me to continue.
We followed unmarked trails that snaked around little visited Inca ruins with one splendid view
We descended steep stone stairways and a tunnel through the rock mountain.
We found more agricultural terraces
and barely saw another tourist.
What a unique adventure and an absolute highlight of visiting the Pisac Peru ruins.
This is what I LOVE about solo travel.
I shared a cab with a random person.
I hiked behind the main Pisac Inca ruins with a 20-something-year-old Swiss student (“Hello, Sebastian!”).
I probably would not have hiked all the way to Pisac solo.
5. Pisac Peru Market – Mercado de Artesania
The market in Pisac is a well-known tourist destination in the Sacred Valley. On Tuesday, Thursdays and Sundays, official market days, the market bustles with both tourists and locals. Food, clothing and beautiful Peruvian goods are found in abundance. It was quiet midweek when I was there.
6. Taking a Collectivo From Pisac Peru to Cusco
Cross back over the bridge to catch your ride back from Pisac to Cusco.
I thought I was taking a bus but it was a collectivo…
Collectivos are shared rides. As I was looking for the bus to return to Cusco, I heard a man yelling “Cus-co! Cus-co!” I figured I had found the bus.
I paid the man S/4 ($1.60 Cdn). He opened the van door. It was FULL of Peruvians, mostly men. I crawled all the way to the very back corner, as I caught the eye of the only other woman aboard. Truthfully, I had a moment of panic and claustrophobia! I had already had one nerve-wracking collectivo experience. I really wanted this one to be better, so took a deep breath.
I looked out at the breathtaking views as we climbed out of the Pisac Valley and marvelled at the roads in the Andes that are all cliff hangers.
Before I knew it I was back at the “bus station” in Cusco with a grin on my face.
Bus + Shared Cab + Sebastian + Unexpected Hike + Collectivo +
Awesome Inca Ruins in Pisac, Peru = Solo Travel Day Supreme