Inca Ruin drawing

INCA TRAIL

In May 2011 I did a four day trek along the Inca Trail in Peru with Geckos Adventures. The trek goes over high passes, through different vegetation zones and past many Inca ruins on the eastern side of the Andes, culminating in Machu Picchu. A selection of photographs from this trip is contained below. Click on the thumbnails to see larger images:




Cuzco

I arrived in Cuzco the day before the trek started and spent some time wandering the streets looking at the Inca stonework and colonial buildings throughout the city.



Plaza

The Plaza de Armas in the centre of Cuzco is a popular place for tourists and locals. The Plaza is surrounded by churches and cathedrals and many tourist shops and markets.



Sacsayhuaman

Above the city is the Inca fort of Sacsayhuaman, which consists of three huge zig-zag walls built of massive stones. This is also the site of the Inti Raymi festival which I had attended on my previous visit here.



Kilometre

The following morning our group was driven to Ollantaytambo then further down the valley to Kilometre 82, which is the official start of the Inca Trail. This is located on the railway line to Machu Picchu and next to the Urubamba River. We unpacked our gear, met our porters, had our paperwork checked then we were on our way.



Urubamba

The suspension bridge over the Urubamba River marks the start of the Inca Trail.



Ruin

After an hour's walking we came across our first Inca ruins.



Mt

Mt Veronica, which is 5750m high, looms above the Urubamba River and is visible for most of the first day of the trek.



Llactapata

Llactapata is a large Inca agricultural site near the junction of the Cusichaca and Urubamba Rivers that supplied food for Machu Picchu and the surrounding area..



Upper

The Inca hillfort of Huillca Raccay is situated overlooking the Cusichaca River valley and the Llactapata ruins.



First

At the end of the first day we camped just above the village of Wayllabamba at an altitude of 3200m. The first day was fairly easy with not much altitude gain, but it would be different the following day.



Inca

The next day we began the long climb up to Warmiwanusca (Dead Woman's) Pass.



Forest

Along the way we passed through a picturesque section of cloud forest with twisted trees.



Inca

The trail above the village of Llulluchapampa. From here the altitude started taking effect and it was a long, slow climb to the pass.



Dead

Warmiwanusca Pass at 4215m. This was the highest point on the trek and beyond here the trail became easier, although more rocky.



Group

Our group photograph at Warmiwanusca Pass. From here we had a 600m descent to the campsite in the Pacamayo Valley.



Runkurakay

On the third day of the trek we passed many Inca sites, including the ruins of Runkurakay. This circular building high above the Pacamayo River is thought to have been a resting place or guard post.



Second

We climbed to a second pass at 3950m from where we had views of the snow-covered Vilcabamba Range. The vegetation became thicker beyond here as we entered the cloud forest region.



Approaching

The ruins of Sayaqmarka are perched on a rocky promontory above the cloud forest and Aobamba River valley.



Sayaqmarka

The ruins at Sayqmarka.



Inca

The trail passes through a 16m long tunnel carved out of the rock by the Incas.



Inca

A typical view of the Inca Trail on the third day of the trek. The trail was very rocky and you had to be careful where you put your feet.



Lunchsite

We had lunch at the third pass just above the ruins of Phuyupatamarka. The amazing views from here were obscured by cloud.



Phuyupatamarka

Phuyupatamarka (Cloud-Level Town) is an Inca site at 3600m high above the Urubamba River. From here we had our first view of Machu Picchu Mountain.



Inca

From Phuyupatamarka we descended for about two hours down a flight of Inca steps through beautiful cloud forest.



Intipata

Intipata was an agricultural settlement and consists of extensive terraces on a steep slope high above the Urubamba River.



Winay

Winay Wayna is an impressive Inca ruin located next to the Trekkers Hut and final campsite.



Arriving

Walking into Machu Picchu at the end of the Inca Trail. We left the campsite at 5:30am and walked for 1.5 hours to Intipunku, the Sun Gate, to see the sunrise on the Machu Picchu ruins, however it was foggy and we didn't see a thing. By the time we arrived at Machu Picchu the fog began to lift.



Machu

Machu Picchu ruins and Huayna Picchu peak. This was my second visit to the ruins following my previous visit in 1997 when I arrived by train.



Machu

Inca buildings at Machu Picchu. We had a two hour guided tour of the site with our trekking guide then free time afterwards to explore the ruins further.



Temple

The Temple of the Three Windows.



Machu

Terraces and temples at Machu Picchu.



Quarry

Machu Picchu Mountain looms 500m above the ruins of Machu Picchu. I decided to climb this peak, which is higher but less crowded than the Huayna Picchu climb.



Above

As the trail climbs higher the views of Machu Picchu become more spectacular.



Steep

The trail towards the top of the Machu Picchu Mountain is steep and very exposed. It took about 1.5 hours to reach the top.



Top

From the summit of Machu Picchu Mountain there is a sheer 1000m drop to the Urubamba River below. This is one of the most exhilarating places I have been to due to the 360 degree views and the exposure.



Shelter

There is a small rest hut on the narrow ridge at the top of the mountain.



View

Looking down to Machu Picchu from the top of Machu Picchu Mountain. There was a great view of the ruins and the Urubamba River encircling Huayna Picchu mountain.



Machu

Machu Picchu Mountain from near the Inca Bridge.



Inca

The Inca Bridge is located on a sheer rockface near the ruins, and contained a drawbridge that could be removed if needed.



Machu

Machu Picchu in the late afternoon sun. By this time many of the crowds had gone and we could enjoy the ruins in solitude. We then descended to Aguas Calientes and caught an evening train back to Cuzco.






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Page last modified on Monday 6 January 2014