Matched in grandeur only by the ruins of Machu Picchu, this fabulous, ruined citadel city in the mountains southwest of Chachapoyas is the best preserved and most dramatic of the district’s extraordinary archaeological sites. This monumental stone-fortified citadel crowns a craggy limestone mountain and affords exceptional panoramas of a land once inhabited by the Chachapoya.
Sitting on rolling hills on the Lake Umayo peninsula, the funerary towers of Sillustani stand out for miles against the desolate altiplano landscape. The ancient Colla people who once dominated the Lake Titicaca area were a warlike, Aymara-speaking tribe, who later became the southeastern group of the Incas.
This immense ruin of both religious and military significance is the most impressive in the immediate area around Cuzco. The long Quechua name means ‘Satisfied Falcon,’ though tourists will inevitably remember it by the mnemonic ‘sexy woman.’ Sacsaywamán feels huge, but what today’s visitor sees is only about 20% of the original structure.
Chavín de Huántar
The unhurried town of Chavín abuts the northern end of the ruins and is too often whizzed through by visitors on popular day trips from Huaraz. A shame really, as this attractive Andean township has excellent tourist infrastructure, a slew of nature-centered activities and some of the best-value accommodations in the Cordilleras.
It’s not hard to succumb to the charms of sunny Pisac, a bustling and fast-growing colonial village at the base of a spectacular Inca fortress perched on a mountain spur. Its pull is universal and recent years have seen an influx of expats and new age followers in search of an Andean Shangri-la. Indeed, it's a magnet for spiritual seekers.