More than 50 Peruvian and foreign tourists were the first privileged who yesterday were able to enter sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Inca Trail Network of the Historic Sanctuary and Archaeological Park of Machu Picchu when this important route, which offers one of the best treks and travel experiences in the world and that every Peruvian should know, was reopened to tourism.
These reopened sections, as part of the tourist reactivation of Cusco and Peru, are in addition to Route 5, reopened in July 2020, and are part of the Qhapaq Ñan or Inca Trail Network that united the entire Tahuantinsuyo.
In this case, these routes cross a series of places of captivating scenic beauty, diverse ecological levels, impressive archaeological sites that are contemplated along with a great biodiversity of fauna and flora, in many cases unique on the planet.
Ranked as one of the best trekking routes worldwide by international publications specialized in travel and tourism, such as National Geographic and the British magazine Wanderlust, the Inca Trail Network crowns the amazing experience of the journey with the arrival at the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, a World Heritage Site and one of the seven new wonders of the world.
The experience of traveling the Inca Trail not only seduces lovers of nature and cultural tourism, but also of adventure, since it also allows you to travel by bicycle in certain sections near the Sacred Valley.
Tourist attractions on the Inca Trail
When traveling the authorized routes of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu you can appreciate a set of archaeological sites that are an expression of the magnificent Inca architecture and engineering. There are also resting points and villages inherited from the ancestral pre-Hispanic civilization.
Next, let’s review which are the buildings that can be visited during this unforgettable trip.
Llactapata on the Inca Trail
It is the first Inca archaeological site that can be seen at the beginning of the tour and is located at an altitude of 2,840 meters above sea level, on the Patallaqta mountain, at the confluence of the Cusichaca and Urubamba rivers.
d foreign tourists were the first privileged who yesterday were able to enter sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Inca Trail Network of the Historic Sanctuary and Archaeological Park of Machu Picchu when this important route, which offers one of the best treks and travel experiences in the world and that every Peruvian should know, was reopened to tourism.
It consists of a group of buildings with well-defined sectors, such as enclosures, terraces, plazas, stairways, irrigation canals, among others. The agricultural terraces or platforms and its drainage system stand out in a special way. This archaeological site should not be confused with different places with the same name, it was a ceremonial center located west of the citadel of Machu Picchu and can be visited on the hike to the snowy Salkantay.
Wayllabamba on the Inca Trail
It is the first resting point on the route that allows you to enjoy the landscape dominated by a beautiful valley, home to families that exhibit their customs and traditions of Cusco and enthusiastically welcome travelers who stop for a few moments to repair their energies before continuing the journey.
Qoriwayrachina on the Inca Trail
It is an architectural complex composed of enclosures, terraces, irrigation canals, circular constructions, which were built by order of the Inca Pachacutec with the possible function of being an administrative center. It is located at 2,480 meters above sea level and 35 kilometers southeast of the citadel of Machu Picchu.
From this archaeological site you can photograph and admire the natural landscape, since to the north is the deep canyon of the Urubamba, to the south the valley and the gorges; to the east the Sayacmarca sector, while to the northeast the citadel of Machu Picchu.
Paucarcancha on the Inca Trail
Located at 3,133 meters above sea level, in the town of Qhesca, district of Ollantaybambo, province of Urubamba, this archaeological site is integrated by a set of agricultural terraces with the presence of enclosures and 2 free areas that could have been 2 patios.
There are also rectangular enclosures with sloping walls, a trapezoidal door design and the presence of windows or niches made around an enclosed courtyard.
Warmiwañuska on the Inca Trail
It is a mountain pass and is located at the highest point of the Inca Trail, at 4,215 meters above sea level. This high Andean zone is accessed after a long walk of 4 or 5 hours, by a steep road with stairs and has a length of 9 kilometers of ascent. At this point the air is a little dense and cold, with a temperature that fluctuates between 5 °C and 7 °C.
In this ecological floor the landscape is covered with ichu or thatch, and is surrounded by mountains with abundant flora on one side and snow-capped mountains on the other, which are shown as a backdrop to the spectacular scenery.
Runkurakay on the Inca Trail
This archaeological complex is located on the mountain of the same name, in the district of Machu Picchu, at an altitude of 3,760 meters. It is a semicircular construction, with a central plaza and enclosures that border the construction. In the walls you can notice niches or niches, as well as trapezoidal doors.
The function that this Inca construction may have had, due to its strategic location, is that of a lodging place, tambo or control site.
Sayacmarca on the Inca Trail
It is located at 3,625 meters above sea level and is a building built on a steep terrain, where the Incas had to overcome the slope. It consists of a set of narrow streets, enclosures and passages arranged in different planes, squares, canals, walls with niches or niches and trapezoidal doors.
The floor plan is elongated and there is only one passageway in and out of the complex. There is a staircase of almost one hundred steps leading to a main square. The archaeological complex is surrounded by platforms covered in many cases with vegetation.
Of imperial Inca style, due to its location it could have been a control site and the people who lived there had their houses, deposits, canals and a place to worship the sun or Inti, the most important deity of the Incas.
Phuyupatamarka on the Inca Trail
This Inca construction, located at an altitude of 3,670 meters, is surrounded by agricultural terraces. It is a set of enclosures, roads, a small bridge, three squares, a sacred rock and two main entrances, as well as irrigation canals in a good state of preservation. It is characterized by being built on a mountain from which you can see the Urubamba River.
Wiñaywayna on the Inca Trail
Archaeological site whose name means «eternally young» and corresponds to an orchid that abounds in this place located at an altitude of 2,650 meters above sea level.
It is a small citadel composed of a group of constructions that could have served as dwellings and that stand out at first sight for their trapezoidal-shaped niches and the arrangement of the buildings similar to those existing in the citadel of Machu Picchu. It also has liturgical fountains located on a steeply sloping surface.
Intipata on the Inca Trail
It is a group of Inca terraces and enclosures located on the route between the archaeological sites of Wiñaywayna and Intipunku, at an altitude of 2,840 meters above sea level.
In these agricultural terraces of considerable width there is evidence of the formidable Inca agricultural engineering, expressed in the design that allowed the use of rainwater and irrigation canals to allow the development of large-scale agriculture.
Intipunku on the Inca Trail
It is the closest Inca archaeological site to the citadel of Machu Picchu, almost a kilometer away, and is located at an altitude of 2,720 meters above sea level. Its name means «Gate of the Sun», since the sun enters every morning through its entrance door, and the architectural complex is surrounded by terraces.
To access you have to climb a set of stone steps and the complex houses several enclosures also built with stone that are characterized by their trapezoidal-shaped niches.
Impressive biodiversity on the Inca trail route
During the tour through the Inca Trail Network to Machu Picchu National Sanctuary and Archaeological Park, it is possible to appreciate an impressive Andean and Amazonian biodiversity, which includes 384 tree species, 468 orchid species, 279 ferns, 443 bird species, 84 mammal species, 22 reptile species, and 17 amphibian species.
Sanitary protocol for the Inca Trail information route
According to the sanitary protocol, all visitors must wear a mask, as well as fill out and sign the Health Affidavit at the checkpoint at the entrance to the authorized routes. In case they have been infected, they must present the document certifying the respective discharge.
Visitors must agree to have their body temperature measured by the staff in charge. Those who present 38° C or more may not undertake the tour. If any symptoms associated with covid-19 are identified, the suspect will be isolated in the area established for this purpose and the competent health authority will be immediately notified.
The visitor control personnel have the authority to deny entry, interrupt the tour and, if necessary, remove any person who does not comply or refuses to comply with the biosecurity measures established in the protocol.
The tour guide is responsible for collecting and presenting digitally (as soon as possible) at the entrance control, the tickets, affidavits and other relevant documents of the visitors under his/her charge. The latter, in turn, in case they are asked for identification, must show their identity documents to enter the authorized routes.
Before starting the tour, visitors’ footwear and personal equipment must be disinfected and their hands must be cleaned. While traveling along Route 5, tourists must maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 meters between each person. Food consumption is not allowed during the visit.
The tour guide, designated by the travel and tourism agency, is in charge of keeping the group of visitors together in the same number from the beginning to the end of the tour, as well as informing visitors to respect the established circuit and avoid entering unauthorized areas.
After the entrance control, each group will begin its tour with a difference of no less than five minutes with respect to the previous group, which will be controlled by the staff of the Headquarters of the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu and the Decentralized Directorate of Culture of Cusco.
During the tour, it is recommended that the minimum distance between visitors is four meters and between different groups or social bubbles is at least 20 meters. Visitors are prohibited from collecting archaeological or natural material, as well as touching the surfaces of the archaeological walls.
All visitors must submit to the required controls as many times as required, as well as comply with the Regulations for Sustainable Tourism Use of the Inca Trail Network of the Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary and Archeological Park.
Food and beverage consumption on the Inca Trail information
For the consumption of food and beverages, the travel and tourism agency must develop and implement a protocol with the sanitary measures, according to the current provisions against covid-19 established by the Ministry of Health, in the sectors authorized for food consumption. A social distance of two meters must be respected between each visitor and staff must take turns. Food preparation is not allowed on the authorized routes.
In the Chachabamba sector, the service area is located where the rest pergolas are located, passing the entrance control. In the Wiñaywayna sector, it is located in the area of the rest pergolas and available campsites used for overnight stays. The service companies can provide refreshments or visitors can bring their own. There are restrooms and hand-washing facilities at each of these points.