At 3,250 meters above sea level, and just 30 km (18 miles) from the highland Peruvian city of Cuzco, best known for being the jumping-off point for visiting Machu Picchu, Piquillacta (Pikillaqta) makes a great day trip. It is a mainly adobe pre-Incan ruin that was in use by the Wari people as an administrative center from 550 to 1100 AD. The site is extensive, spread out over 13 square miles, and is part of an archaeological park that also includes the Rumicolca Ruins. The center of the area is the remains of a lake, the Laguna de Huacarpay, where birdwatching is popular, though everyone, birdwatcher and non- will enjoy the expansive views over the valley below.
The ruins are interesting in that they are multi-storied, and in many areas there are remains of the plaster used to cover the walls. There are many areas where human remains were found, possibly as offerings, though many items have been removed from the area. The civilization surrounding Piquillacta was agrarian in nature, and there are remains of maize and beans, and it is believed that the Wari ate llama and cuy (guinea pig) as part of their diet. The remains of aqueducts and irrigation ditches can also be seen.
An hour or two guided tour is probably enough time for the average visitor, and travelers can easily combine this tour with one that visits the areas of Tipon, Pisac and Andahuaylillas for a full-day excursion.