touring cusco

Atop Machu Picchu

We donned our hiking shoes, grabbed our cameras, and headed out to some fantastic archaeological sites during our trip to Cusco and the nearby Sacred Valley. Of course one stop was Machu Picchu, the magnificent “lost city” that was (re)discovered by American Hiram Bingham nearly 100 years ago (it was never lost to the locals). We spent the day enjoying in person the mountains and Incan ruins that we’ve previously only enjoyed in pictures.

We also explored some other lesser-known yet just as fascinating sites: the fortress complex at Sacsayhuaman that overlooks the city of Cusco; the mountainside terraces at Tipon that show the genius of Incan agriculture and irrigation; and the pre-Incan salt pans outside the village of Maras. We visited the bustling markets at Pisaq and Chinchero (both villages of less than 10,000 people) and had a traditional meal of cuy (guinea pig) one evening. While the SSTers relished the chance to explore some of the area’s history, they also got to visit a bit with some current residents of the village of San Jerónimo, who hosted the students in their homes for a few nights.