Some of the largest and most impressive ruins included on the boleto are found at Saqsayhuaman (alternatively spelled Sacsayhuaman, Saqsaywaman, Saksaq Waman, among others; we found that multiple spellings of the same word, even on official tickets or signs, is extremely common in Cusco).
Saqsayhuaman is a huge fortress overlooking Cusco. You can reach it pretty easily from the center of Cusco; you essentially just follow the path up towards the Cristo Blanco (White Christ) statue, and Saqsayhuaman is right next to it. Alternatively, you can take a taxi up from Cusco’s center for about 15 to 20 soles ($4.50 to $6.00 USD).
I honestly have no idea what the actual translation of the word “Saqsayhuaman” is. I’ve read that the Quechua translates to “House of the Sun,” as well as “Satisfied Eagle” and “Speckled Falcon.” A tour guide told us that it means “flesh-eating woman;” his explanation was that many Inca refused to let the Spaniards defeat them during battles at Saqsayhuaman, so they jumped off the edge of the fortress, and birds would come eat their decaying bodies.
Needless to say, there is no real way to know which one of these translations is truly accurate. Understanding such ancient history and making sense of all of the ruins of Peru is a large guessing game — guessing how they were made, why they were made, how to spell their names, and what their names really mean.
The experts hypothesize that Saqsayhuaman was a fortress, and here the Inca put up some of their biggest fights against the Spaniards. There are massive storehouses for food and water, and it is believed to also have been a place of worship for sun.
From Saqsayhuaman, we walked over to the Q’enqo ruins. If you follow the road to Pisac, you will reach Q’enqo; the walk is all uphill, so as always, a taxi is always an option. Q’enqo is believed to have been a ceremonial site. Within a cave found at the main site, you can find a stone altar that may have been used to perform rituals or sacrifices.
A bit father from the main site, Q’enqo Chico offers some beautiful views of the city, though not too much is left of the ruins. They are believed to have been destroyed by the Spaniards in an effort to end the Inca’s pagan practices.
Saqsayhuaman and Q’enqo are both interesting and impressive sites, and they are easily accessible from Cusco; Saqsayhuaman especially was definitely one of my favorite sites on the boleto. If you find yourself in Cusco, be sure to make a visit.