Views 09 Ene Sights and ruins along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
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The Inca Trail is without a doubt one of the most famed and challenging treks in Peru and known worldwide for its cultural content and natural beauty. Every year thousands of tourists flock to Cusco to embark on a four day trek to Machu Picchu, along a truly exceptional mountain trail, made hundreds of years ago by the Inca civilization. Besides the ancient trail itself surrounded by unique flora and fauna, trekkers will pass a range of magnificent archeological Inca ruins all with their own characteristics: 

The classic Inca Trail starts at Km88 at the location of the Qoriwayrachina, which was only discovered recently in 2001. The name is Quechua for ‘where the wind was used to refine gold’, and the site beholds many fascinating monuments and altars made out of stone.

Located at 2840m. above sea level, the next interesting site you can visit is thought to have been used primarily as an agricultural plantation. Llactapata, which is a combination of two Quechua words, ‘llacta’ meaning town and ‘pata’ meaning height.

Inca Trail

The ruins of Runkurakay are up next. The edifice features two concentric walls that enclose chambers and a square, build diagonally so to withstand earthquakes. Because there are a significant number of sleeping quarters, the site is considered to have served as a resting place for couriers on their way to Machu Picchu.

To enter the ruins of Sayacmarca one needs to climb 98 vertical stone steps along the side of a mountain at a height of 3,600m above sea level. The platform has very steep drops on three of its edges; no wonder they refer to this site as ‘the Inaccessible Town’!

Inca Tunnel
The 20m long tunnel you need to pass before reaching the third pass on the Inca Trail is an incredible example of the quality engineering skills that Incas possessed. How they carved through solid rock with only simple tools is still very much a mystery today.

This very important location, where once hundreds of people lived together, can be reached by climbing a long stairway all the way up into the cloud forest; hence the translation of the site’s name as ‘the Cloudy Place’. Many stunningly preserved fountains, terraces and plazas can be admired here.

At Intipata, known as ‘the Sunny Slope’ there are no religious structures or fortifications to be found, only perfectly leveled Andean crop terraces and many lookout platforms. Due to its strategic location with views far into the Sacred Valley it is believed that the structure served as a message station to send urgent messages to Machu Picchu. 

Inca Trail

Wiñay Wayna
It holds probably the most beautiful name of all archeological sites along the Inca Trail, ‘Forever Young’ due to a special type of Pink Orchid flower that grows abundantly in the area. Just like Intipata, Wiñay is built upon a steep hillside with many advantageous view points over the Urubamba River, but archeologists also uncovered a meticulously carved out fountain system, implying that it was used as a final cleansing post before getting to Machu Picchu.

Inti Punku
The famous sun gate of Machu Picchu will be reached at the break of dawn on the fourth and final day. The view from this vantage point over the lost city of Machu Picchu is absolutely magical and definitely will make you forget all the aches and pains of previous 45km hike.

In addition to the many interesting cultural sites, it is the natural scenery that makes the excursion to Machu Picchu even more exceptional. With every mountain pass that is being conquered and left behind, the vegetation changes offering us yet more impressive views. Especially the ‘Dead Woman’s Pass’, or Warmiwañusca from the terrain that resembles a woman lying on her back, is breathtakingly beautiful and from the summit at 4160m it offers incredible sights of the nearby mountains such as the Salkantay and Veronica, many with sacred attributions by the Inca. On the last days, when the path descends into the tropical cloud forests you will see many exotic flowers and colorful orchids, rivaling the best selection of orchids anywhere in the world.

One thing is certain, not much has changed to the natural beauty since the days the Inca’s walked the trail. If you want to learn more about the Inca culture and how to hike the Inca Trail yourself, do not hesitate to contact Dos Manos travel agency in Cusco; our guides know exactly how to make this trip one of the most special ones you will ever take in your life!

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