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15 Incredible Sites You’ll Only See if you Hike the Inca Trail

The Inca Trail is one of the world’s most famous and stunning hikes. Thus, it is an incredible 26-mile trek through the Andes Mountains, offering breathtaking scenery and unique experiences along the way. One of the best things about hiking the Inca Trail is the opportunity to see incredible sites that are only accessible by foot. In this article, we will explore 15 incredible sites you’ll only see if you hike the Inca Trail.

1. Warmiwañusqa Pass

Warmiwañusca is a challenging but rewarding part of the 4-day Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu. Hikers who make it to the top of this mountain pass are rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding Andean mountains. Also, this pass is located at an elevation of 4,215 meters (13,828 feet).

The name Warmiwañusca refers to a mountain ridge that some say resembles the profile of a sleeping woman. Others believe the name comes from the challenges of the climb, which could leave a person feeling as though they were “dead.” Regardless of the origin of the name, Warmiwañusca is a must-see destination for anyone interested in the history and natural beauty of the Andes.

Warmiwañusca mountain pass

2. Llactapata

Llactapata is a fascinating archaeological site located at an altitude of 2800 meters (9,186 feet) above sea level. The ruins are believed to have been primarily used for crop cultivation. Also, the terraces that cover the site are a testament to the advanced agricultural practices of the Inca civilization.

Additionally, the name Llactapata comes from two Quechua words, ‘llacta,’ meaning town, and ‘pata,’ meaning height. There are other sites with the same name due to its meaning. Unfortunately, many visitors to the area miss out on the opportunity to explore this incredible site. This happens because it is located far below the main trail.


3. Runkurakay

Runkurakay is a fascinating Inca archaeological site located in the middle of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. One of the unique features of this site is its semicircular enclosures. These enclosures are made of slate stone and gray granite. Therefore, it’s an impressive site to see on the hike. Also, it offers a glimpse into the incredible engineering and architectural skills of the ancient Inca civilization. Without a doubt, this is one of the most incredible sites of the Inca Trail. 


4. Sayacmarca

Sayacmarca is an incredible site located along the Inca Trail. Situated on a peak at 3,600 meters (11,811 feet), the site is divided into two parts: ceremonial and residential. Also, one of the most impressive features of Sayacmarca is its well-preserved doorway and stairs. These stairs lead to the site’s upper levels. 

Additionally, Sayacmarca boasts an intricate irrigation system, featuring canals that supply water to the site’s houses. Overall, Sayacmarca is a unique and fascinating site to explore on the Inca Trail. It offers visitors a glimpse into the daily life and culture of the ancient Incas.


5. Phuyupatamarca

Puyupatamarca, meaning “city above the clouds,” is a remarkable Inca archaeological site situated in Peru’s Urubamba valley. The site is known for its complex system of water sources. These include springs, fountains, and canals that bring water to the site’s various terraces and enclosures. 

In addition to its impressive water management, Puyupatamarca features a network of stairways that lead to the site’s upper levels. Thus, it offers visitors breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The site’s terraces are also noteworthy, as they were used for agricultural purposes by the ancient Incas. Thus, Phuyupatamarca is one of the most incredible sites of the Inca Trail. 


6. Wiñay Wayna

Wiñay Wayna is a fascinating Inca archaeological site located in Peru, along the route of the Inca Trail. It is positioned 3.3 km south-southeast of Machu Picchu, between Puyupatamarca and Intipunku. Also, the site consists of a lower and upper sector connected by a long stairway with a descending fountain. 

Both sectors comprised agricultural terraces and buildings, with the lowest sector being the most extensive. Additionally, the buildings are arranged in the traditional Inca urban pattern of the kancha type. Thus, it provides visitors with a glimpse into the ancient Incas’ daily life and culture. 

Wiñay Wayna

7. Intipata

Intipata is a fascinating Inca archaeological site located along the 4-Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This checkpoint is famous for its terraces. Also, these terraces were used to grow various agricultural products such as potatoes, corn, oca, quinoa, and coca leaf. The site’s name comes from the Quechua words, Inti and Pata. Thus, its name means ‘Place of the Sun’ or ‘Terrace of the Sun’. Visitors to Intipata can explore the various terraces and learn about the Inca agricultural practices. 


8. Machu Picchu

Of course, no list of incredible sites along the Inca Trail would be complete without mentioning Machu Picchu. This ancient city is one of the most famous and impressive archaeological sites in the world.

machu picchu

9. Huayna Picchu

Huayna Picchu is a mountain located within the Machu Picchu archaeological complex in Peru. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area due to the spectacular views it offers of the surrounding landscape, including Machu Picchu itself. The name Huayna Picchu means “young peak” in Quechua. Also, it rises to an elevation of 2,720 meters (8,923 feet) above sea level. 

Visitors who wish to climb Huayna Picchu can do so by following a steep and challenging trail that involves ascending narrow stairs and steep rocky terrain. However, the climb is rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the ruins of Machu Picchu and the surrounding Andean mountains. Additionally, climbing Huayna Picchu is a popular activity for adventurous travelers and is a great way to experience the natural beauty of this remarkable region.

Huayna Picchu

10. The Sun Gate

Inti Punku, also known as the “Sun Gate” or “Gateway of the Sun,” is an important Inca archaeological site located in the Machu Picchu complex in Peru. It served as the main entrance to the city of Machu Picchu. Thus, it connects Machu Picchu to the vast network of roads in the Inca Empire, including the famous Inca Trail. Additionally, the name “Inti Punku” was given by the discoverers of Machu Picchu. So, it was not originally named by the Incas themselves. 

The site consists of several enclosures with windows and doors that align with the sun’s rays during the summer solstice. This made it an important astronomical site for the Incas. Today, many tourists visit Inti Punku as part of their trek to Machu Picchu. Also, it provides a stunning panoramic view of the ruins from above. Additionally, it is an essential stop for those hiking the Inca Trail, offering their first glimpse of the awe-inspiring Inca city.

sungate machu picchu

11. The Temple of the Sun

The Temple of the Sun is a significant Inca archaeological site located within the Machu Picchu complex in Peru. This sacred enclosure was built by the Incas to honor and worship the sun. Thus, the sun was one of the most important deities of their civilization. Also, the temple was considered so sacred that only priests and the elite members of the Inca Empire were allowed to enter.

Today, the Temple of the Sun is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Machu Picchu. Thus, visitors from all over the world come to see this remarkable structure. The temple’s intricate stonework, aligned with astronomical events such as the solstices, is a testament to the advanced engineering and astronomical knowledge of the Inca civilization. Therefore, the Temple of the Sun is a must-visit site for anyone interested in the history and culture of the Incas. Thus, the temple of the Sun is one of the most incredible sites of Machu Picchu citadel. 

temple of the sun

12. The Temple of the Three Windows

The Temple of the Three Windows is a remarkable Inca architectural wonder located within the Machu Picchu complex in Peru. This sacred temple consists of a set of rooms arranged around a central courtyard. The most impressive feature of the temple is a polygonal wall with three trapezoidal windows. Also, the intricate stonework on this wall is some of the finest in all of Machu Picchu and showcases the advanced engineering and craftsmanship of the Inca civilization.

temple of the three windows

13. The Sacred Plaza

The Sacred Plaza is the heart of Machu Picchu and is surrounded by impressive structures, including the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Three Windows. Also, the Sacred Plaza was the site of important religious ceremonies and rituals. Today, visitors can still sense the aura of spirituality and significance that surrounds the plaza, making it one of the most visited and awe-inspiring places within the Machu Picchu complex.

sacred plaza machu picchu

14. The Temple of the Moon

The Temple of the Moon, also known as the Great Cave, is a remarkable construction built by the Incas inside a cave located in the Huayna Picchu mountain. This unique and mysterious temple is only accessible by hiking for more than 2 hours, making it a challenging but rewarding experience for those who venture to explore it.

Additionally, the temple’s location inside a cave adds to its aura of mystery and spirituality, and it is believed to have been used for important religious ceremonies and rituals. The intricate stonework and architectural design of the temple reflect the advanced engineering and building skills of the Inca civilization. Thus, the Temple of the Moon is one of the most incredible sites of the Machu Picchu sanctuary.

Temple of the Moon Huayna Picchu

15. The Temple of the Condor

The Temple of the Condor is a unique and fascinating structure located within the Machu Picchu complex. This temple is named after the majestic condor bird, which is revered as a symbol of power and freedom in Andean culture. The temple’s design is a remarkable example of the Incas’ skill in working with natural stone and their ability to create intricate architectural designs that integrate with the surrounding landscape.

Additionally, the most striking feature of the Temple of the Condor is a rock formation that resembles the head of a condor. The Incas carved this rock formation to resemble the bird’s beak and eyes, creating a remarkable and lifelike representation of the revered bird.

temple of the condor machu picchu

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