Follow the footsteps of the incas visiting ancient ruins along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The short Inca Trail is the only option that takes through the sun gate and allows you to visit twice the Inca citadel.
The classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is part of an extensive Inca system of trails of more than 23,000 kilometers that integrated the Tahuantinsuyo Empire (which means four regions) that covered Colombia, the west of Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, to the center of Chile and the north of Argentina. These trails tended to be principally on the coast or in the mountains but in a few cases, they reached the tropical edge of the jungle.
Inca Trail (or Qhapaq Ñan – which refers to the network of trails) were without a doubt one of the marvels of Tahuantinsuyo, according to the Peruvian historian, José Antonio del Busto, who explains that the Inca Huayna Capac most increased the network of trails in order to quickly mobilize his army.
The trails varied in quality and size, they could be 6 to 8 meters wide on the coast but, in the mountains, the paving was only one meter wide but the path was audaciously steep and climbed over the difficult Andean mountains.
There are a number of ancient paths close to Cusco – by instance, at Qhorqa, some 20 kilometers from Cusco. On the route to Huchuy Qosqo, there is another interesting Inca Trail. These were constructed perfectly and are still in use without much modification.
The Inca site of Chachabamba was discovered in 1940, are located on the old Inca road that ran along the southern bank of the Urubamba River. The style of buildings and stonework suggest that this used to be an important religious
site, as well as having the secondary function as a gate house guarding this entrance to Machu Picchu.
Wiñaywayna is an important archaeological group near Machupicchu, over an altitude of 2700 mts. (8860 ft.). It was found by Paul Fejos in 1941, and subsequently, in 1942 the Peruvian scholar Julio C. Tello baptized the site as “Wiñaywayna” (Forever Young) after the Quechua name of an orchid species (Epidendrum crassilabium). The Epidendrum genus has here about 20 species of white, red, yellow or violet beautiful flowers that are abundant in the zone; another very common genus is Pleurothalis.
In Wiñaywayna there are diverse buildings among which is an upper semicircular one that is traditionally known as the “palace” or the “tower”, built partially with carved stones. Towards the right side of the descending stairway, there is a range of 10 successive ritual fountains that are classical in every important settlement. Towards the north is the farming sector with a large number of artificial terraces; lower are some other buildings on the precipice’s edge with “pirka” type walls from where there is a nice view of the mountains’ lower part and the valley. Toward the northeast of Wiñaywayna and in an upper level is Intipata (Spot of the Sun); an archaeological site formed mainly by agricultural terraces.
The last tract of the Inca Trail hike from Wiñaywayna is through an impressive somewhat horizontal trail, carved in the mountain face in which on the right side there are deep precipices. Almost by the end of the relatively flat trail, there is a stairway arising in order to finally get to Intipunku (Sun Gate), located on the pass over an altitude of 2650 mts. (8700 ft.). From Intipunku you will get for the first time a panoramic view of Machupicchu.
It was used by the Incas during their ceremonies for the summer solstice in December. In the Inkan Society, this was also used as a watchtower and customhouse in order to enable checking those wanting to enter Machupicchu, as well as for its protection.