Machu Picchu Travel

Inca Trail Highlights

Inca Trail Highlights

The Inca Trail is one of the most complete alternatives to get to the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu. It is undoubtedly the most in-demand trekking option in Cusco since it offers a total immersion in history and nature like no other activity.

If you have what it takes to complete this extensive route, then you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the Andes and the cloud forest as well as the most intriguing but also beautiful Inca structures hidden along the trail.

The Classic Inca Trail comprises several archaeological sites that once served as agricultural, ceremonial, and administrative centers, each one of them with unique architecture and impressive engineering features.

Likewise, the flora and fauna complement the overall experience, where hundreds of orchids and other plant species add a special value to the adventure, without leaving the beautiful alpacas, vicuñas and llamas behind.

We want you to get as hyped as you can for this once-in-a-lifetime experience, which is why we have prepared this section to teach you about the highlights of the Inca Trail.

The Inca Trail Experience

As we mentioned many times, the Inca Trail offers the perfect setting for those adventurous travelers who look to spice up their adventure through Peru. As you may already know, the Inca Trail access is limited to only 500 travelers per day though it isn’t as crowded as you may think.

The trail has a length of 43 kilometers with different campsites and attractions along the route. People from all around the world book this activity even a year in advance, which is why you’ll get to meet and bond with fellow hikers from different parts of the globe.

Only certified companies are allowed to operate the trail, therefore, guides, muleteers, porters, and cooks are experts on the route and offer top-quality service thoroughly.

However, the overall experience on the Inca Trail is linked to your physical condition and acclimatization. For that reason, we highly recommend taking some time to prepare yourself for the challenge ahead as well as getting used to the altitude once you arrive at Cusco.

If you’re compliant with this then you’ll surely be up to this challenging trail. We don’t mean to scare you off by saying this but to help you see things clearly without underestimating this historical journey.

Besides the many archeological sites that you will encounter before arriving at Machu Picchu, the Flora, and Fauna of the region will leave you spellbound to its uniqueness and beauty, as well as the awe-inspiring scenery that you’ll cross day by day. The trail certainly pays all that effort off!

Archeological Sites Along The Route

1. Patallacta
This archeological site is located northeast of Machu Picchu. It was built on top of agricultural terraces and comprised dozens of buildings and small houses. This archeological site is the first sighting within the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

According to many archeologists, Patallacta was a checkpoint for those looking to enter the famous Inca Citadel. However, Manco Inca Yupanqui burned this structure to discourage Spanish pursuit. Luckily, due to this attempt to escape the Spanish conquerors, the trail to Machu Picchu was never discovered.

2. Runkurakay
This archeological site is located at 3,800 meters above sea level within the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This construction sits on a mountain, offering an impressive view of the Andean mountain range.

It is composed of a semi-circular structure whose purpose remains a secret. Some archaeologists point it out as a resting and control point, while others emphasize about it being inclined to ritual functions due to its proximity to mountains.

3. Sayacmarca
It is located at the edge of a cliff at 3,600 meters above sea level and it served as a ceremonial and residential center. Although this extraordinary structure is located within the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, it is believed that it wasn’t entirely built by the Incas, but instead, the Incas had improved it by adding several agricultural terraces around it.

4. Phuyupatamarca
This is one of the many Inca settlements located within the Inca Trail. It is known as “The Place Above the Clouds” due to its remote location in the steepest part of a mountain, offering an outstanding view of the mountainous landscape of the region.

According to its structure and distribution, this archeological site may have served as a religious and administrative center. It is composed of fifteen buildings, two squares, bridges, stairs, water channels, and six ceremonial baths.

5. Intipata
It is an agricultural center located between the Phuyupatamarca and Wiñay Wayna archaeological sites. Intipata comprises a group of terraces and irrigation channels intended for the cultivation of different crops.

The site is recognized for being harmonically placed in a mountainside, adapting the natural landscape without perpetuating it. Intipata allowed mass agricultural production, presumably for the inhabitants of Machu Picchu.

6. Wiñay Wayna
Etymologically, Wiñay Wayna means “Eternally Young” in Quechua. The archeological site is located between the Phuyupatamarca and Inti Punku Inca structures. It is one of the most preserved Inca constructions within the Inca Trail.

Wiñay Wayna is composed of several buildings surrounded by agricultural terraces. The architecture of this location is the same used in Machu Picchu.

7. Chachabamba
It is a small Inca settlement located in the middle of the high jungle, near the Archeological Site of Wiñay Wayna. According to previous research, Chachabamba served as a religious and military center, probably to ensure and control access to the Machu Picchu citadel.

8. Sun Gate (Inti Punku)
Better known as “Puerta del Sol” in Spanish or “Sun Door” in English, it is located on the highest peak of the Machu Picchu complex and was used as the main entrance to the historical sanctuary during Inca times. Inti Punku is the entrance point for those who come from the Inca Trail.

This construction was thoughtfully designed to allow the sunray entrance during the summer solstice. The Incas had a great astronomical knowledge, which was represented in their religious structures.

Is the Inca Trail worth it?

Yes, by all means! The Inca Trail is one of the most complete travel experiences in Cusco and certainly the best way to get to Machu Picchu. The trek will take you through a back-in-time journey, where you’ll get to experience history and nature as if you were in a live museum.

If you’re eager to know more about the Inca culture, this is the way to start, but in case you don’t want to miss the beautiful natural scenery of the region then this is the most suitable option to do so.

The Inca Trail couldn’t blend nature, culture, and history any better. Besides, it is the perfect getaway activity from the bustling tourist attractions in the area. Here you’ll connect with fellow travelers from around the globe and with nature itself, while also experiencing a historical path and tracing the footsteps of the Incas.

So, if you’re looking to do something unique and spice up your adventure, the Inca trail must be on your bucket list then.

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