Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

In the last post about hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 3 friends and I had climbed the 1000 steps from the river up to the ruin of Phuyupatamarca, The City Above the Clouds. The next morning our destination was a ruin called Winay Wayna.

Winay Wayna

Winay Wayna is Quechua, the ancient language of the Incas, for “Forever Young” and is named after a variety of pink orchid which grows there.

Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

It’s a short hike of about 4 hours and mostly downhill from Phuyupatamarca. At that time, the ruin had not been excavated. We were the only pilgrims there and we made camp in one part of the ruin. This is what it looked like in 1978.

Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Jungle completely surrounded us as far as the eye could see, so I was surprised when I went looking for current pictures of what it looks like today.

Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Little did we know how big Winay Wayna was as we were camped in just one of the many buildings. Nor did we know or see the fantastic complex of agricultural terraces or the baths. A sequence of 10 baths suggests that Winay Wayna 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 hiking the trail to Machu Picchu.

The next morning we arose at first light for the short 1.5 hour to continue hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Our goal was to witness sunrise from Inti Punku-The Gate of the Sun.

Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu was built around 1450, at the height of the Inca. Although it was located only about 80 kilometers (50 mi) from the Inca capital in Cusco, the Spanish never found Machu Picchu. As such, it was neither plundered nor destroyed by them as were many other sites.

In 1911 American historian and explorer Hiram Bingham travelled the region looking for the old Inca capital and was shown to Machu Picchu by a local farmer. Bingham brought Machu Picchu to international attention and organized another expedition in 1912 to undertake major clearing and excavation. Machu Picchu was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983 describing it as “an absolute masterpiece of architecture and a unique testimony to the Inca civilization.”

Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

After hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu for 1.5 hours we turned the last corner and the Lost City of the Incas spread out below us. We had timed our arrival at the Gate of the Sun perfectly as the sun rose of the city and Andes. It was spectacular.

This was once the main entrance to Machu Picchu and we were lucky that the ruin wasn’t shrouded in mist as is common. A great benefit to being at the gate so early is the lack of tourists.

Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

We spent several hours running around the ruins and then took the bus down to Aguas Calientes for a cold beer, room and a bath at the local hostel. Late that same afternoon Blake and I went back to ruins and hid out until the park closed and watched the full moon rise. Needless to say, this is one of the most cherished memories of my life.

We ran around Machu Picchu under the full moon for about an hour until we were discovered by a caretaker. He kindly escorted us off the ruins with no problems. I shudder to think what would happen if one were to try that today.

Obviously things have changed since I was there as a young man in 1978, but a trip to Peru, with all of its wonders and natural beauty should be on everyone’s list. You should highly consider hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. You do not have to be an athlete and there are hikes as little as 1 day if you don’t want to spend 4 days.


There are not many timeshares in Peru. In Cusco, your likely starting point for Machu Picchu, you’ll find The Wyndham Saqusayhuaman Cuzco in RCI.

Interval International  has the Wayqey Hotel in Cusco. II also has the Wayqey Lodge in the town of Urubamba about 30 miles from Machu Picchu. Because of the popularity of the area and the paucity of timeshares you’ll have to get your request in early to be confirmed.
The resort/s referred to in this post are not meant to be taken as my blanket recommendation as the best timeshare exchange to fit your needs. I encourage you to do more research and not just rely on this post and/or the ratings you find in the RCI and Interval International directories.

To further help you out, read my post “Accuracy of Timeshare Ratings in RCI and Interval International” by Clicking Here.

This is a very popular destination with few timeshare units so you will want to plan in advance and make sure you have maximized your trading power.

A good start to increasing your chances of getting a good exchange with RCI or Interval International is to make sure to download your FREE Timeshare Exchange Checklist. You’ll get 7 must do tips that that you can easily implement now because the longer you wait to do things in the timeshare world the less chance you have of getting what you want.

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