Climate: Cusco features two well-defined seasons: the rainy season, from November to March, with average temperatures of 12 °C; and a dry season (the recommended time of year for visiting) from April to October, with cold nights, sunny days and average temperatures of 9 °C.
Access: Qenqo is 3 km from the city of Cusco (15 minutes) while Tambomachay lies 7 km (35 minutes) away.
Two areas near Cusco that feature some superlative religious architecture are the shrines of Qenqo and Tambomachay. Qenqo is a vast rocky hilltop carved into staircases, holes and channels, probably built to store the chicha (fermented maize beer) used in Inca rituals. The site features a semi-circular patio studded with several large niches surrounding a stone figure embedded within a chamber, rather like an idol inside its own shrine.
Tambomachay is another fine example of Inca architecture made up of platforms, niches and fountains which still function today, as water flows down through them from a spring higher up in the hills. In Inca times, this was a sacred site used for worship of the water deity, one of the shrines that made up the Cusco ceque, the system of imaginary grid lines that irradiated out to sacred spots or indicated the time and place of the ceremonies.
Tambomachay was a relaxing lodge for Incan nobility. Baths could be taken, possibly of a religious significance as water was an important male deity. There is some evidence that it was used as a hunting lodge, there being abundant wildlife in the surrounding hills.
The remains of the building are constructed from polygons of Lime-stone with niches for various idols or mummies and had 3 (a significant Incan number) ceremonial fountains in front of which are the remains of a small defensive fort.
Qenqo was carved from the Lime-stone remains of a pre-historic sea at an altitude of 3,600 m.a.s.l. The word Qenqo means 'zigzag' or'Labryinth' and probably refers to the carved channels in the stone where Llama blood or chicha(maize beer) were poured as part of a religious ritual. The resulting trail and speed of flow would then be interpreted by a priest....a bit like Tea-leaf reading on a grander scale!
Inside the rock are the remains of an altar and 19 trapezoidal niches where statues and mummies were placed. Possibly they housed life size statues representing local nobility.
Incan duality is evident with the Sun Temple situated at the top of outcrop, where devotion was side by side with the observing of equinoxes and solstices for agricultural planning.