Pisac in the Sacred Valley of the Incas - Peru
Pisac is a small sleepy town in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, spread along the edge of the Urubamba river. It is about an hour by car from Cusco, longer if you take the bus.
There isn't a lot to do in Pisac town except explore the narrow streets and visit the market in the main square. But that is enough. While the market is aimed at tour groups - who are unloaded by large busses that squeeze down the alleyways - it is still has a lot of incredible weaving and handicrafts. Spend some time and you will figure out that the further you venture into the market, the cheaper the prices. On Sunday the market is a lot bigger than during the week
The town is also the unofficial regional HQ for itinerant new agers, healers, massage, yoga, tie die fashion and sandal chick. So if that is your thing head here - settle down for a while. Around the central plaza cafes serve good smoothies, coffee and wholesome meals.
THINGS TO DO IN PISAC
But it isn't hard to get away from all this. In the backstreets you will find interesting stuff; crumbling old houses, snoozing dogs and locals going about their business as they always have done.
Up on the hill behind Pisac are the Inca ruins. Unlike Machu Picchu or Ollantaytambo, these are sparsely visited, which is reason enough to go there. They are also spectacularly spread across several hills and ridges and it is a great walk from the top to bottom. Hardy and thrifty visitors walk up and down all the way from Pisac, but there is an easier way - taxi up then walk down. Taking your time, this will still take most of the day.
THREE VIDEOS ON PISAC
The first video below is one of our own - via Travel Collected. Getting to Pisac (Peru) from New Zealand took several days. First up there was the eleven hour flight from Auckland (NZ) to Santiago, a night in that city, then another flight to La Paz in Bolivia. Finally, after another night at high altitude in La Paz, we took a third flight to Cusco in Peru and then taxi to Pisac. All up it took around three days.
It sounds exhausting, but when you are visiting a new continent for the first time, you have that extra bit of gas. We enjoyed the ride. But that's not to say we didn't arrive in Pisac a little jittery. As it turned out our first mountain taxi journey - one hour from Cusco to Pisac - was also our most reckless. The diver liked to take those high mountain corners fast.
Once there we check out the backstreets, market and then head up the hill to the ruins. In a way these are some of the nicest in the Sacred Valley as although they aren't as large and dramatically located as Machu Picchu, you are likely to have them almost to yourselves. They are also spread out over a wider area. We recommend taking the taxi up and walking back down.
The second video Adventuring Pisac by Zac Peetsma is concise but interesting. The travelling couple visit the Pisac market on a Sunday - where it expands further than the usual weekly market. On that day the locals come down to trade in local produce, in addition to the weaving and other goods, which are more aimed at tourists and available all week. They then hitch a ride up to the ruins - which they highly recommend. Unfortunately, the walk to the bottom is closed so the miss the lower parts. They say "awesome" a lot - but it's ok because it is a good video.
The third video, Exploring the Beautiful Pisac Peru (below) by Zac in a Hat is quite long - over nine minutes. But it is very thorough. Zac does a lot of talking to camera all the way through, so you pretty much follow Zac around finding out things as he does. He muses about what he finds, what is going on and how much things cost. There is info on the bus from Cusco to Pisac, the hotel, the prices of everything from smoothies, to bananas to cerviche. Zac is clearly on a tight budget. The narration is all delivered in a slightly dry but not unenjoyable Canadian monotone. The Pisac video is actually in two parts, the second is where he climbs up the (very steep) trail and then back down to the Pisac ruins, you can check it out here.
There are a few hotels and hostels in Pisac. La Casa del Conde (pictured below) is probably the nicest place to stay in town, with lovely gardens, little cabins and quaint central tower. It is very rural and quiet. Be warned though, it is a few kms out of town and if you have luggage you can only get there on a bumpy ride by moto-taxi - regular cars can't get up there.
Pisac is about an hour drive time from Urubamba and the same distance from Cusco. There are plenty of buses, minivans or you can take a taxi either way.