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Inkilltambo Hike – Hiking in Cusco
Are you looking for a cool and uncomplicated hike near Cusco? You don’t want to drive for hours to the next mountain range or you need a tranquil hike to get acclimatized before doing the Inca Trail or one of the other amazing hikes through the Andes?
The Inkilltambo Hike is an excellent choice for you!
Located just 20 minutes outside of Cusco near the ruins of Pukapukara and with a maximum altitude of 12000 feet (3700 m a.s.l) the hike suites for families with children (>6 years) and people of all kinds of fitness state. There are three different routes. However, all of them start at the archeological site of Pukapukara.
If you are eager to visit all the beautiful Inca ruins, which surrounds Cusco you could even connect the Inkilltambo Hike with a tour to the Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman, Quenko, Pukapukara and Tambomachay.
Paths full of vegetation
The beginning of the hike
In the following, you will get to know the two most recommendable routes of the Inkilltambo Hike:
Starting at the Inca ruins of Pukapukara you walk down cultivated fields until you leave the main road behind and enter a lush polylepis forest, which you only find in the South-American Andes between 11000 and 16000 feet (3500 and 5000m).
This forest shelters different rosaceous plants and the neophyte Eucalyptus tree.
The Eucalyptus tree was brought to Peru in the 18th century because the settled German monks needed a decent firewood for their beer factory. Even though the Eucalyptus brought many disadvantages to the local flora the Andean communities got used to its many purposes (firewood, construction timber, medicine plant).
Anyway, you will stroll through this lush forest accompanied by the tranquil sound of the Inkilltambo creek and chirping birds for approximately an hour.
In the route, you will see small waterfalls, corn and bean fields as well as ancient Inca walls. With a little luck, you might even spot some hummingbirds. You will pass a small bridge, the perfect place for a short break and walk through a bushy forest for about 10 minutes. Then the archeological site of Inkilltambo will emerge.
Cusco’s living nature
The Inkilltambo ruins
Inkilltambo is quechua. Inkill means garden and tambo means hostel. This Inca site is huge and you can find tombs, irrigation channels, trapezoid niches, tunnels, ceremonial places as well as Andean terraces of ceremonial and agricultural purpose.
Discover new adventures
Inkilltambo was beautifully restored during the years of 2015 and 2016, the entrance is free and I recommend you to bring your picnic basket to enjoy your lunch at this spiritual place or at a quiet place near the creek. Children should bring their bath suite to take a refreshing dip in the crystalline water of the creek.
To discover the entire archeologic site you might need 30 to 60 minutes after you have to choose which way you take back to Cusco.
Route 1: Inkilltambo, the Moon temple and an old Inca trail (our recommendation)
The easiest and shortest way will lead you directly back to the main square of Cusco and takes around two hours. First, you walk up through a steep forest for 10 to 15 minutes.
This is definitely the hardest part of the hike and if you prefer you can take a more comfortable roundabout way.
On the top, you can appreciate a great view of the Inkilltambo ruins, its surroundings and on the horizon you will glance at the majestic snowcapped mountain of Ausangate.
Then you continue the hike for around 15 minutes until you get to a big rock, the Moon or Fertility temple. Full of feminine energy, this ancient Inca temple is often visited by couples who wish to become parents.
Discover this place for a while and then hike on a fascinating ancient Inca trail back to the boiler edge of Cusco city. On the way you will pass another small Inca ruin called the Temple of the Monkeys.
At the boiler edge you will have a stunning view over the entire city and from now on an easy way home. Just walk down the many stairs until you get to Cusco´s bohemian neighborhood of San Blas.
If you are hungry I recommend you to eat in one of the cozy and delicious restaurants of this area or enjoy a Pisco Sour on the rooftop terrace of the Limbus resto bar. From here, your way back to your hotel is just a stone´s throw.
Route 2: Inkilltambo, beautiful city views and the neighborhood of Santa Ursula
If you prefer to walk a little further you can continue the Inkilltambo Hike until the neighborhood of Santa Ursula. You will walk through parts of lush shrubs until you reach a pillared rock formation built by the Inca´s. On weekends local families come here for a picnic.
From the top of the pillar, you will have a stunning view on the City of Cusco. After chilling a while at this cozy place, you will get closer and closer to the city and reach Santa Ursula after around an hour.
The neighborhood of Santa Ursula is not very nice but if you want to enjoy a cool beer and / or try the best leche de tigre (spicy ceviche soup) in town have a rest at the Tiger Milk restaurant. After you can take a taxi back to your hotel.
An awesome blue sky
Important Information for Inkilltambo Hike
Physical difficulty: easy – medium (mostly downhill)
Duration: 4 to 5 hours
Distance: 5 miles / 8 kilometers
Max. Altitude: 12000 feet / 3700 m a.s.l
Minimum age: 6 years
Natural regions: Suni – Quechua (Polylepis Forest)
Recommendations Inkilltambo Hike
Do I need a tour guide?
Theoretically, you can do the hike without a guide once you find the entrance (this is a little difficult), the way is relatively easy to follow (always along the creek) until you reach the ruins. If you would like to learn more about the Incas, Peruvian life today and the wildlife of this area you should book a tour. So, you also avoid getting lost on the way.
How do I get there?
You can take a taxi from the center of Cusco to the ruins of Pukapukara. From there you will have to walk. If you book a tour pick up is included.
Do I need to pay any entrance fees?
If you are just visiting the Inkilltambo ruins no entrance fee is charged. Nevertheless, if you are interested in the nearby Inca ruins like Sacsayhuaman, Quenko or Tambomachay you will have to buy the so-called BTG (General Tourism Ticket).
What should I bring?
- Sunblock, Sunglasses, Sunhat
- During rainy season (November to May) rain jacket
- Hiking shoes or sneakers
- 1 Liter of water
- Snacks or a picnic basket
If you have already decided and want us to help you plan your trip, contact us!.