Just one kilometer from Sacsayhuaman is Q’enqo, a large limestone structure carved with many steps leading to nowhere, or to a place that doesn’t exist anymore. This is a motif typical of huacas, sacred stones appearing in Inca worship places. Between these two sites, horses can be rented for short rides; if arriving in an organized tour (which is the recommended option due to certain dangers here), ask before booking a place if time is scheduled for this activity.
The name of the site means zigzag in Quechua. At first this may seem more appropriate for Sacsayhuaman since this fort was built in a clear zigzag pattern. Here, finding the pattern demands an effort since it was carved within the stone. Apparently, chicha (a fermented corn drink) and llama blood flowed through these canals during ceremonies. The last things of interest in this rock are carvings of a condor and a puma on its highest point. Below the rock are caves with carved niches were mummies were stored. A point of special interest is that Altiplano mummies were desiccated by the very dry weather of the plateau, without the complex processes used in Egypt. Nearby is a small amphitheatre of stone niches with a vertical stone which originally may have been a statue. It doesn’t take long to finish this visit; Puca Pucara is the next Inca ruin in the tours around Cusco.
"Puca Pucara" means "Red Fort" in Quechua. The name is no less interesting than the site itself. Across the Titicaca Lake from here, Tiwanaku was probably contemporaneous to Angkor, apparently dating back to the late first millennia. Apparently – again this ambiguous definition – the denizens were Paucara (or Pucara) people, who spoke a language closely related to Aymara. Then a calamity occurred and they migrated across the Titicaca Lake, founding Cusco and the Inca Empire. Accordingly, Pucara (and Paucara) are recurring names in the whole area and were later on adopted as surnames by many.
The Red Fort is six kilometers away from Q’enqo. Despite its name, the site was probably a tambo. This is a Quechua word used to design storage facilities. Even nowadays, many markets in La Paz include storage areas called "tambos." Here, many partially surviving rooms of regular size and no sign of fortifications occupy a modest hill. The most interesting sight is the terraces on adjacent hills – some of them in advances stages of decay that were used for growing corn and tubers.
Nearby - practically across the road from Puca Pucara - is the last Inca attraction in the area, known as Tambomachay. Despite called "tambo" this is not a storage facility, but an elaborate bath; thus it is often referred to us the Inca Bath. A natural spring was channeled here through three waterfalls, a wall with niches surrounds the complex; this beautiful piece of engineering still works perfectly well.
Is a tour of four sites in half a day in the company of too many tourists worth the effort? After all, this is neither Machu Picchu nor Cusco. I had my doubts before the tour. Yet, these humble sights provide additional angles to few experiences of the Inca Empire still available to us today, and as such, they are recommended.