Unless you hike in via the Inca Trail at the break of dawn, you’ll have to deal with massive crowds at Machu Picchu. There are daily caps on visitors, but that’s like telling college students to just take one slice when there’s free pizza.
You won’t have anything close to solitude at Machu Picchua. For that, however, you have the rest of the Sacred Valley. The entire Sacred Valley, or Urubamba, is dotted with Incan sites that, while they don’t boast the fame of Machu Picchu, are impressive in their own rights.
Pisac is one of many small, traditional Andean towns in the valley, and despite covering only a smattering of blocks wedged into the base of a valley, it’s one of the most bustling of the bunch with a popular weekly fair. The archaeological site of the same name is located three miles from town, mostly uphill, and tiered terraces the Incans built are carved into the mountainside all the way to the top. You can hike it or catch a ride to the top and then walk the loop of the ruins, where the valley stretches out below for miles. And you’ll have it mostly to yourself.
If you’re hungry in Pisac, head for the mammalian equivalent of Red Lobster at San Francisco Colonial Oven. There you can pick one of the guinea pigs scurrying around a pen to be roasted for your dinner. Guinea pig, or cuy, is a delicacy in Peru, by the way.
And yes, it tastes like chicken.