Písac – A Remote Destination in the Sacred Valley

Písac is a small town about a hour outside of Cusco.  Known for it’s Sunday market and local ruins, Písac makes an excellent day trip and acclimation hike for those doing the Inca Trail.  Not many tourist venture to Písac so it’s an excellent way to get out of the crowds of Cusco.

Getting to Písac

At the ruins with Písac in the background

At the ruins with Písac in the background

Getting to Písac was an adventure in itself.  Because a Winter Solstice Festival was taking place in Cusco, the main route to Písac was closed.  We chose to take a private cab to Písac and didn’t regret it.  The 2 hour detour ride only cost us about $40 for two of us – and we got to see some rural parts of Peru.  The taxi is an excellent method if you feel uncomfortable taking the bus.

Buses also take you there – for the return journey we chose to take the bus.  I believe the 1 hour journey back (the roads had opened by then) only cost us ~$1.  A boy will come around and collect your fare after the bus departs so have your change ready.

The bus ride back was a riot –  cramped and it twisted around some sharp, menacing looking hairpin turns with ease.   The girl sitting next to us would kiss her cross every time we made it safely around a turn – so maybe you should take the taxi back instead!

The Market at Písac

The market at Písac

The market at Písac has all kinds of goodies – from crafts to food.

Písac is known for it’s big Sunday market (well it’s every day but it’s biggest on Sundays) with all kinds of handicrafts,antiques and Alpaca wool clothing and even fruits and vegetables!  I was able to get some silver bracelets for a reasonable amount.  Don’t be afraid to bargain – they know to mark things up for tourists.   I will say we were one of the few tourists at the market – so it’s definitely not completely touristy.

Where to Eat in Písac

As we were there only for the day, we only ate lunch while in Písac.  We ended up eating at Ulrike’s Cafe.   Ulrike’s Cafe is a great little spot with a nice roof deck and has a decent selection of vegetarian, vegan, and meals for meat eaters too (and free WiFi to boot).  We ended up meeting some people eating there that were part of a outreach group doing economic development in rural parts of Peru – so it made for a great conversation.

The Ruins of Písac

The Ruins at Písac

The Ruins at Písac

The hike up to the ruins was a little tough – but hey it was good training for the Inca Trail, right?!  However, the effort was quickly proved worth it.

Francisco Pizarro and the Spanish conquistadors destroyed Inca Písac in the early 1530s.  The modern town of Písac was built in the valley by Viceroy Toledo during the 1570s.  Just like several other parks in Peru you are free to roam with little supervision.  There were tons of little trails and paths leading all over the place.  The ruins at Písac are known for their excellent terraces.  It was fun to explore and I’m glad we made the effort to hike all the way up!

Písac was a great little side venture on our trip to Peru.  Full of history and arts and crafts it should be on anyone’s radar when visiting Cusco!

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