Inca Trail to Machu Picchu – Info
Description of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu route
Based on traditional 4 days / 3 nights tour.
The total distance of the trail is approximately 39.6 Km. and begins at Km. 88 at a place called Q’oriwayrachina. To begin the trail, you must cross the Kusichaca bridge, (an important Inca bridge which using Inca techniques, has been built with steel cables which allow visitors to cross the Urubamba River). Then you head over to the left bank through a Eucalyptus grove and start the day calmly.
Almost immediately, you will come across the archaeological complexes of Q’ente, Pulpituyoc, Kusichaca and Patallaca. From this last spot, follow the trail along the left side of the Kusichaca River in the area with the same name where you will not only see the bridge but also you will find tombs, aqueducts, terraces. roads and a canyon. Continue until you reach the small peasant village of Wayllabamba and Inca aqueducts. It takes around four hours to cover the 9 Km up to this spot. One can camp here for the first night, but for comfort we recommend staying in Llullucha 1.6 Km further on.
The second day is more difficult as the hiker will have to climb up to 4,200 meters, crossing the Warmiwañusqa pass, the first and the highest. If you suffer from “soroche” (altitude sickness) it is best not to stop and descend quickly to the valley of the Pakaymayu River, where you can camp. This spot is 7 Km away and an approximate eight-hour walk.
The third day is the longest but most interesting. You will be able to visit impressive archaeological complexes such as Runkuraqay, the second pass, at 3,800 meters above sea level. This is a walled complex with interior niches that perhaps was a small place for rest, guard post and worship place. After crossing the second pass, descend to Yanacocha (the black lagoon), to then climb up a path with stone steps until you reach another cluster of buildings which attracts the attention of visitors. This spot is called Sayaqmarka a pre Hispanic complex with narrow streets, buildings erected on different levels; shrines, patios, canals and a protecting outer wall. At the top of the buttress one can see many constructions which lead one to suppose they once were a temple and an astronomic observatory which had a permanent supply of water and excellent food storehouses.
Sayaqmarka is a place filled with mystery and enchantment. The approximate distance to Runkuraqay is 5 Km, which takes 2 hours. This complex lies at 3,600 meters above sea level. There are excellent paths and a tunnel through this complex. We recommend you camp near the Phuyupatamarca ruins or 3 Km further on at the Wiñay Wayna Visitors Center, where one can buy food and drinks or use the bathrooms. The Phuyupatamarca ruins are better preserved than those seen before now.
It has a solid base built down to several meters in some cases. The Wiñay Wayna ruins were given the name possibly because of the abundance of a beautiful type of orchid which flowers nearly year-round in the whole area. The Peruvian government and the Viking Fund signed an agreement in 1940 to investigate the area, and sent the Wenner Gren expedition led by Professor Paul Fejos. But despite the expedition, there is no precise information about the specific function of six groups of dwellings near Machu Picchu. They are divided up into four well-defined sectors which are: the agricultural sector with many terraces, the religious sector, the fountain sector and the residential sector where the houses are located.
On the fourth day, which starts around 8 A.M., the walker arrives at Machu Picchu Inca Citadel at around 11 A.M. after 8 Km of hiking through the jungle. Follow the signaled route and drink some water at the Wiñay Wayna Visitors Center. The path is clearly marked but try to avoid getting too close to the cliff edge.
It is forbidden to camp in Inti Punko. Leave your equipment at the control gate and enjoy getting to know the most important monument in this part of ; the continent. You have time to walk around Machu Picchu until mid-after-noon. Check train timetables to return to Cuzco.
If you plan to stay in Machu Picchu Town (Last called “Aguas Calientes“), the distance from the station of Puente Ruinas to Machu Picchu is 2 Km. It takes around 20 minutes to walk down a narrow path which runs parallel to the train line.
We recommend you check for trains before walking the path.