Tambomachay might not be one of the biggest ruins in Cusco, but it’s definitely one of the highest, topping out at nearly 13,000 feet.
Located five miles from the city center, Tambomachay is also known as “the Baths of the Inca” due to the multiple baths which are scattered about the site. The Inca held water in a spiritual regard as one of the sources of life, and the spring waters at Tambomachay are masterfully diverted into aqueducts, baths, and stone-carved waterways which would divert the water through the stone. Given the site’s natural beauty and the spiritual significance of its waters, it’s believed by historians that Tambomachay was reserved for Inca royalty.
When visiting Tambomachay today, be sure to admire the smooth mosaic of stone which forms the walls of the ruin. The way in which the stones are perfectly stacked on each other is an example of the handicraft for which the Inca were famous. Also, take a moment to notice the way that the multi-tiered terraces are built into the mountainside in such a way that they nearly blend as a natural part of the landscape. This is a relaxing, powerful, and meditative spot that sees far fewer visitors than some of the more famous ruins.
To visit Tambomachay, you can either take part in a guided tour or visit the site independently. For those who choose to visit on their own and are looking for a bit of a workout, consider riding a bus to the site and then strolling the five miles back towards the city. Remember to take it slow, however, as the altitude can easily be felt, and be sure to admire the views of Cusco that stretch out to the surrounding valley.
Tambomachay is located 5 miles north of the center of Cusco, and it is accessible as part of the Boleto Turistico, which allows entrance to 16 sites around Cusco for $43/adult or $23/student.