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The Inca Trail Day 3 - Pacamayo to Winay Wayna (15km)

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From Pacamayo is takes about an hour to climb up to the ruins of Runkuracay. These small circular ruins occupy a commanding position overlooking the Pacamayo valley below. Another 45 minuteshike took us to the top of the second pass Abra de Runcuracay (4000m). This part of the trail is mostly original Inca paving. The descent down the steps from the pass was very steep and a killer on the knees.

The next part of the trail was beautiful and continued up toward the 3rd pass. The path crossed high stone embankments and skirted deep precipices. After about an hour from the 2nd pass we arrived at Sayacamarca by way of a superbly designed stone staircase. The name Sayacmarca means 'Inaccesseble Town' and describes the position of the ruins, perfectly protected on three sides by sheer cliffs. No one knows the exact purpose of these ruins.

We had to backtrack a little to rejoin the trail as is passed Conchamarca, a small Inca dwelling situated in the shadows of Sayacmarca, which was probably a tambo for weary travelers on their way to Machu Picchu.

From then on the trail descended into magnificent cloud forest full of orchids, hanging moses, tree ferns and flowers, passing through an impressive Inca tunnel, carved into the rock.

From here we then climbed up to the 3rd pass (3700m). The view from the pass offers some excellent views of snow capped including Salkantay (6180m) and Veronca (5750m). Shortly after the pass we reach Phuyupatamarca, the most impressive Inca ruin so far! The name means 'Town in the Clouds'. Access to the ruins is down a steap flight of stairs passing six 'Inca Baths' probably used for the ritual worship of water.

We then leave the sight via an other impressive staircase leading from the west side of the ruins descending approx. 1000 or so steps! More pain on the knees!

After about another hour of trekking  passing through more amazing cloud forest the roof of the trekkers hostel at Winay Wanya is just visible. We're told its about another 2 hours trek to actually get there and they do have hot showers. Hooray. Oh and a bar!

A short trail leaves from the southern  end of the hostel to the ruins of Winay Wayna. The name in Quechua means 'forever young' and is named after a variety of pink orchid which grows there. The ruins comprise magnificent agricultural terraces set in an impressive location. There are also many buildings of good quality stonework and a sequence of 10 baths, suggesting that the site was probably a religious center associated with the worship of water.

Ritual cleansing may have taken place here for pilgrims on the final leg of the trail to Machu Picchu.


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Inca Trail Day 3

Inca Trail, Peru
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