Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Shady Ady on November 24, 2006

Opposite the Inca ruins of Puka-Pukara, one can find the more impressive ruins of Tambo-Machay. Tambo-Machay is located 300 metres from the main road, several kilometres from Cusco on the road to Pisaq. If you have just arrived in to Cusco, the 300m walk from the main road can be quite demanding. Tambo-Machay, when translated into English literally means 'lodge resting place' and it is thought these ruins were once an exclusive relaxing and retirement palace for the more well-off and prosperous members of the Inca culture.

Today the ruins consist of a beautifully wrought, ceremonial stone bath channelling water down through the different stone levels. It amazes me that even 500 years after the Inca empire collapsed, the water features still work perfectly. The channelled water, or 'ceremonial water fountains' are built in two different levels and historians believe were made so that strict ritual duties could be performed, as water was an important male deity that fertilized the Earth. This would explain why the water found here is both clean and crystalline clear. Even to this day, the source of the water is unknown for sure (some say towards the mountain range of Senqa), which to me shows how amazingly intellectual the Inca race were.

Due to the well intact water features, some call Tambo-Machay 'El Baño del Inca', and relate the structure to an Inca water cult. When looking closely at the ruins, four trapezoidal niches in the upper wall and two other ones lower to the right can be seen. These niches were probably used in order to hold Inca idols and mummies. Opposite the fountains is another building also made with carved stones. Due to its location, this would have been an observation point, allowing visual contact with Puka-Pukara.

On the negative side though, at Tambo-Machay there is an unusually large number of beggars, unlike other Inca ruins I have visited. Most are only after your money. Others though offer small bunches of 'Muña' (Minthostachys spicata) to passing tourists. This plant, native to the region, has many medicinal properties including relief from nausea, dizziness, headaches, altitude sickness and Diarrhoea. They can also be used to help stop inflammation and infection. Being a fan of natural remedies, if suffering from any of these ailments I would highly recommend buying a bunch of 'Muña' off the sellers (usually old women, with very poor sight). It can be rubbed in your hands and inhaled, or used in a drink (wash thoroughly first though!). I wouldn't chew the leaves on their own, as you never know where they have been!

Entry to the ruins is through the 'Boleto Turistico' ticket, which costs approximately $25 and gains entry to another 15 visitor sites in and around Cusco. Although there are many Inca ruins nearby that offer a more enjoyable trip, Tambo-Machay is offered as part of the Cusco city tour, and as this only costs between $6-$10 for a half day, it would be rude not to visit.
7 kilómetros de Cusco
Cusco, Peru


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