When it comes to historically significant and popular sites, it is hard to ignore the popularity of Machu Picchu in Peru. Millions of people come annually to hike the Inca Trail, trekking along its length until they reach the entrance gate of this fabled “Lost City.” However, if you opt for this traditional trek, it may come as a revelation that this is not the only archeological site along the trail to the city.
More than Machu Picchu
The traditional trek lasts four days. It leads upward into the mountains, climbing to more than 13,000 feet before descending downwards into the verdant cloud forest. The trek is arduous, lengthy and exhilarating. It is not without rewards – ones that materialize before you arrive at the Gate of the Sun and the legendary ruins of Machu Picchu.
Every day of the trek, you become aware of the impact the Incas had on this corner of Peru. The many archaeological sites and farming terraces represent aspects of Incan life/culture. They served as residences, religious/ceremonial places, and administrative centers. Among the many, you can explore are the following:
Patallaqta/City over the Terraces: This complex consists of 100 buildings
Runkuracay: This round, roofless stone building provided shelter for those traveling the Inca Trail
Sayaqmarka/Town in a Steep Place: Dedicated to the mountains, it was possibly a village and sacred place
Phuyupatamarka/City above the Clouds: This is home to five small stone baths
Intipata: This complex features a small residential sector, but the focus is on the agricultural terraces
Inca Trail Trek
Hiking the Inca Trail will lead to the famed Lost City. This is the premier tourist draw in Peru. However, it is important to remember; there is so much more. By listening to local guides and wandering through other archeological sites along the route, you will come away with a greater sense of who the Incas were. You will understand they were more than the city of Machu Picchu.