How to Book the 2Day, 4 Day, 5 Day or 7 Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu!
For all trekkers the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a dream to do it. This 45km/26 mile trail that leads to one of the 7 World Wonders is one of the most popular hikes in the world. The hike is remarkable, no matter which route you take. Each day you will pass some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet and roam around amazing ruins.
But hiking this route involves a lot of planning and prepping. In order to enter this historic route, you must have a GOVERNMENT ISSUED PERMITS obtained by a licensed Inca Trail Tour Operator – like SUNRISE PERU TREK. The government will only release 500 permits to start the Inca Trail each day and EVERYONE needs a permit – even our crew – so tickets sell fast. It is imperative to book these treks 5-6 months in advance.
The Inca ruins of Phuyupatamarka is located at 3,600masl the name means town over the cloud; this name was given by the American explorer Mr. Hiram Bingam. This name fits, because at night clouds tend to settle around this ridge. At Phuyupatamarka, there are many agricultural terraces here, possibly enough to have made the site self-sufficient. Once again we find ritual baths here-a fine principal bath at the outskirts of the ruins beside the road leading into the complex, and a chain of five almost identical baths descending in a line along the pathway below. These have recently been cleared and restored to working order.
At the top of the site stands a large platform of bedrock which has been leveled off by hand-an amazing feat when we consider the tools the Incas had to work with. The base of a fine double jamb entranceway can be seen here, and this was evidently the beginning of a structure that was destined to be the most important in the complex. But we can see that it was never completed, because there is no sign of the heaps of cut stones that we would inevitably find had there been finished walls which later collapsed.
Above the ruins stands a ledge littered with rocks that may have served as a quarry. There you can see a block of stone about three meters long, with three deep grooves cut into it, suggesting that someone was in the process of carving this stone into four separate blocks. The cliff edge was once crowned with a long wall at this point-the bedding-cuts in the rock can be seen clearly.
Each of the small groups of buildings in the ruins features a semi circular or semi-ovoid structure, resembling a low, single-store tower. Some of them have sinuous, irregular shapes that seem molded to follow the outlines of the rock on which they are built, and all of them look outwards over the immense Urubamba gorge. These miniature towers are a unique feature of Phuyupatamarka.
The Inca ruin of Sayacmarka is located at 3,600masl; Sayacmarca was discovered by the American explorer Mr. Hiram Bingham in 1915. He called it” Cedrobamba”, meaning “Plain of Cedars.” But since it is not a plain, nor are there any cedars. The archaeologist Paul Fejos, visited the area in 1940, gave it a new Quechua name (Sayacmarka) meaning Dominant or inaccessible Town. This magnificent Inca complex is built at the end of an abrupt promontory commanding a sweeping view of the “Aobamba” valley, with the snowcapped Pumasillo in the distance.
The layout of the settlement is mazelike and tightly organized, almost cramped. There must have been some special motive or mindset behind the choosing of this site, because there is a small plateau nearby to the northwest known as Ch’akicocha (Dry Lake), which, from our perspective, would seem a much better location for a town. It has a more accessible water supply, and far more space for building. But it does not overlook its surroundings in the same way as the site that was chosen. This was surely the overriding factor for the Incas – Sayacmarka was not, in military terms, a defensible site: its water supply was easy to cut off, and it could be bombarded with missiles from the nearby mountain slope. What it does have, in common with all other sites along the Inca trail, is a commanding view of the landscape.
A line of observation platforms ran between here and Machu Picchu, and it seems likely that the Incas used a signaling system to send information – warning of the approach of important people, for example – up and down this line. Sayacmarka may also have served as a center from which to control travel and cargo along the two main highways visible from this point (the second of these being the trail that led down the valley directly south of Sayacmarka, to the Aobamba valley.
These are the utilitarian reasons for the location of Sayacmarka. But the deeper motives were metaphysical, and are harder to explain. The truth is that there was no real economic or strategic rationale for building Machu Picchu or the Inca Trail and its sites. The land is so rugged and steep it is hardly worth farming, and there were no significant mineral deposits. The quality and type of construction cannot be accounted for by a military threat, and in fact the settlements were so remote that they made no economic sense at all. If they had, they would never have been abandoned.
Machu Picchu and the Inca trail make no sense to our rational minds, but our hearts can readily understand. The Incas worshipped the natural world – particularly the snowcapped mountains which are visible from all the major sites – and tried to communicate with its spirits. They were willing to make an enormous investment in the contemplation of natural beauty. The man who had all this built was a warrior and imperial conqueror; this was his other face, the hidden aspect of Pachacuteq.
The Inca Ruins of Runkuraqhay is located 200 meters about the valley of “Pacaymayu”, at an altitude of 3,800masl. The American explorer Mr. Hiram Bingham got the name Runkuraqhay from his local native porters. Victor Angles has suggested that, since the word “Runku” doesn’t exist in (Cusco) Quechua, Bingham must have misheard them, and the name should be Runturacay, meaning “egg shaped building.”
The circular shape of the main structure at Runkuraqhay is unusual for a large Inca construction .The two concentric walls of the enclosure form two long, curved chambers and four small ones, all giving onto a central courtyard. The outer walls are massive and solid, and have no windows, but the eastern quarter of the courtyard is open, giving a magnificent view over the Pacamayu valley. The site might have served as a lookout point (most of the sites in this region command the landscape visually for kilometers in every direction), and also as a “Tambo” a place where travelers lodged, animals were corralled and cargoes were relayed.
The weather in Runkuraqhay is normally cold doe to its location; the environment is of straw which the Incas use to cover its houses.
The Inca ruins of Patallacta Is the first site that you’ll see on the classic Inca Trail; it’s located at 2,650masl which you’ll see after of 3 hours walk from the km 82; the tail is relatively easy.
The Inca ruins of Patallaqta (up Town) stand on the mountainside high above immense banks of agricultural terraces, on the west bank of the “Cusichaca” river. This well preserved and major Inca ruin was not part of the string of elite ceremonial centers that you will see later on-yet it was vital to their existence, because it produced the food on which they depended. Combined with Q’ente, further downstream, and other side higher up the Cusichaca valley, this area produced three or four times more food than it consumed. Unlike Machu Picchu and the other Inca Trail sites, this one was settled by earlier cultures before the Incas arrived, with human occupation beginning at least 2,000 years ago, through to the present day.
Patallaqta was not a high-prestige settlement. A visit to the ruins provides a contrast to some of the sites you will see later on. The residential compounds are built with uncut field stone, in a strictly repetitive architectural style, characteristic of the type of site where transient “mit ‘a” labor contingents were housed. But the solid stonework, the attention to urban planning, and above all the quality and beautifully contoured style of the terracing betrays the hand of first rate royal architects and engineers, most likely those of Pachacuteq’s panaca.
Below the ruins, near the banks of the “Cusichaca” river here stands a small site called “Pulpituyoq” (Pulpit-having-a hybrid Spanish Quechua word). This curved building, constructed around a huge rock, was Patallaqta’s waca or religious place where the Incas performed ceremonies for their gods.
The Inca ruins of Chachabamba is located in the km 104 on the way to Machu Picchu, Chachabamba is set at elevation of 2,150masl; it’s a Quechua word which means valley of trees; the name is not original Inca name. The Name probably was given for the type of geography since the environment is fully vegetated.
Chachabamba contains of two types of architecture: the Inca imperial structures, and domestic types. For the type of architecture, structures and distribution probably it was a religious center where the Incas performed ceremonies dedicated to the Mother Nature spatially to the mountains. In the middle of the construction there is a very nice square that at the east site one can appreciate a very nice altar carved on natural rock. Few meters from here there are several ceremonial water baths. Probably the place where the Inca pilgrims take purification shower in order to clean the soul before arriving to Machu Picchu.
The zone of Chachabamba is a very fertile valley, a great place to grow tropical and sub-tropical food and plants, spatially sweet potato, yucca, and medicinal plants.
At Chachabamba there is a control point for the trekkers; here you have shown the permits and the entrance to the national park of Machu Picchu. Here begins the short Inca Trail or the 2-day trekking to Machu Picchu.
The weather is normally warm and tropical duo to the location; it’s surrounded by pristine forest. Here is where the Amazon Jungle starts.
The Inca ruins of Wiñay Wayna lie about five-minute walk off the trail around the hillside to the right (south) from the visitor center. The site is named after an orchid genus (here, Epidendrum crassilabium and E. secundum) with red, violet or yellow flowers that was once abundant in this area, and is still to be seen. The plant blooms year- round, hence the Quechua name, which means “Forever Young.”
The ruins here were discovered in 1941 by Paul Fejos, during the last days of the Viking Fund expedition. He had time only for rudimentary survey and clearing work. The Peruvian archaeologist Julio C. Tello conducted further investigations in 1942. The ruins are built on the steepest of mountain slopes, flanked by ancient farming terraces. Due east from here, the land plunges into the Urubamba gorge and then soars upward to the shining glaciers of Wakay Willka (La Verónica 5,750masl); you pass from the ridiculous to the sublime, encountering one of those sudden, sensational first views that the Incas seemed to delight in creating. A magnificent sweep of curved terracing leads the eye down to a cluster of steep-roofed buildings perched at the end of a steep spur, while in the background a high waterfall sprays down the mountainside through dense cloud forest vegetation.
The trail leads into the complex along a broad terrace with a long, curved wall to one’s right, which ends at a huge doorway. This leads in to a large rounded structure that commands the site in much the same way as the similar structure at “Sayacmarca” does, and the unfinished enclosure at “Phuyupatamarca” would have. Below the building a straight flight of stairs takes you down past a unique set of ten ritual baths. Historical data confirm that ritual bathing or cleansing was an important feature of Inca religious observance. The element of water itself was also worshipped. Ritual baths are a feature of every major Inca site, but they are particularly numerous on the Inca Trail sites. This is another factor among many which support the view that the Machu Picchu/ Inca Trail network held a special spiritual significance for the Incas. Another factor affecting the choice of location for this site, is that it looks directly across the Urubamba towards the glaciers of Wakay Willka (la Verónica), thus linking Wiñay Wayna to that mountain as a place of worship.
If you follow the steps downhill past these waterworks you reach the dwelling area. Here there is a small square overlooked by two open-fronted buildings, which might have been a communal area where the social and economic transactions of the community took place. At the lower extreme of the dwelling area you emerge onto a tiny, startling platform (carefully) poised over two hundred meters of nothing – a vertical farewell to earth. To your right a small waterfall sprays down the cliff face.
The short Inca Trail from Chachabamba at Km. 104 crosses the opposite side of this ravine, passes the waterfall, then enters the terraces of Wiñay Wayna.