An Afternoon At Sacsayhuaman with the “Wrong” Gear!

After a late breakfast this morning, I decided to take the long climb up to the amazing Inca site of Sacsayhuaman that overlooks Cusco from the northeast. Not only is it my top recommendation to visit in the immediate Cusco area, if the weather is clear — as it was today — you will be blessed with views of Cusco that are truly breathtaking. About all that was missing today was a view of Ausangate rising over 20,000′ southeast of Cusco which often dominates the horizon even though it is over 60 miles away.

Besides the fact that I was using the climb and walk through the site to get some badly needed exercise, I went with the intention of only using my Sigma 100-400 “Contemporary” lens on my Canon 90D camera. I’ve had this lens for a few weeks now and I am constantly blown away by the images I get with it.

This post is more about what I was able to photograph with this camera/lens combination than about Sacsayhuaman. I’d have been much better off using a medium zoom like my faithful Canon 18-135, but I thought it would be fun to try something different today. (Yes, I had another wide angle lens, but decided to force myself to use only one long lens that really wasn’t appropriate for the setting to see what I could come up with.)

Here are a few of the images I was able to capture in a couple of hours of wandering through the site. (As always, be sure to click on each one to see a larger version.)

The distant doorway caught my eye as I was walking in and seemed like a perfect target for the lens zoomed in at 270mm.

“Viva El Peru” has been on the mountainside for decades far across the valley, but had really faded until it was restored for Peru’s bicentennial celebration this past July.

It seems like getting a selfie in front of one of the massive stones weighing as much as 300 tons (!) is the highlight for many tourists.

I love how there’s one famous Cusco conman who likes to claim places like this “prove” the Incas didn’t build any of the major sites because their work is the smaller stone construction integrated later. I don’t know if it’s ignorance or pure dishonesty or both, but he never mentions that, in reality, reconstruction of most Inca sites was begin many decades ago and continue to this day. Most of what he likes to describe as inferior Inca work was actually done in the 1900’s by government workers

The crowds have begun to thin a little as the northern hemisphere’s tourism season has come to an end. For the next couple of months we’ll have mostly Peruvian tourists before two months of relative quiet.

Cristo Blanco framed up nicely by some trees. A gift from an Arab-Palestinian colony in 1945, this 8m (26′) tall statue can be seen from all over Cusco and also provides a beautiful view over the city.

I was once told that the white building in the center was Cusco’s first hotel, but I’m not sure. It certainly was a hotel at one time and the lower floor is made up on shops and restaurants on three sides just a block from the Plaza de Armas.

You can get a beautiful view of the Plaza de Armas from the Cruzmoco mirador site at Sacsayhuaman.

I’m not sure why I even bothered to take this photo, but I’m glad I did. It’s not because the subject — Cusco’s airport terminal — is interesting, but because this spot is 5 km (just over 3 miles) away. Despite the early afternoon heat causing distortions in the rising, I was amazed at how clear is the view. You can even read the numbers on the jet bridges!


I hope you weren’t expecting too much with this post. It’s probably geared more for photographers and was intended to show off a little of what this novice was able to do in a quick trip with the Sigma 100-400 “Contemporary” lens. I can’t wait to use it in the jungle for wildlife!



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