This day is the longest but also the most impressive and most interesting due to the many Inca ruins that we will visit along the way.
From the campsite at Pacamayo it takes about an hour to climb up to the ruins of Runkuracay (3800m). These small circular ruins occupy a commanding position overlooking the Pacamayo valley below.
Another 45 minute hike will bring you to the top of the second pass: Abra de Runkuracay (4,000m). At last you'll feel that you are walking along the trail of the Incas with paving, for the most part, being original. The descent down the steps from the pass is steep so take care. This section of the trail, up till the 3rd pass, is particularly beautiful as the path crosses high stone embankments and skirts deep precipices. After about 1 hour from the 2nd pass you'll arrive at Sayacmarca (3624m) by way of a superbly designed stone staircase. The name Sayacmarca means 'Inaccessible Town' and describes the position of the ruins perfectly, protected on three sides by sheer cliffs. No one knows the exact purpose of these ruins.
From then on the path descends into magnificent cloudforest full of orchids, hanging mosses, tree ferns and flowers, passing through an impressive Inca tunnel, carved into the rock, on the way.
The trail then climbs up to the 3rd pass (3,700m). The view from the pass offers excellent views of several snow-capped peaks including Salkantay (6,180m) and Veronica (5,750m). A few minutes after the pass is Phuyupatamarca, the most impressive Inca ruin so far. The name means 'Town in the Clouds'. Access to the ruins is down a steep flight of stairs passing six 'Inca Baths' probably used for the ritual worship of water.
Leaving the site via an impressive Inca staircase you descend a thousand or so steps. Be careful with your knees which will feel the strain by the end of the day.
After about an hour of walking through cloudforest you may just be able to see the tin roof of the Trekkers Hostal at Wiñay Wayna, although it probably won't be for another 2 hours until you arrive.
Wiñay Wayna is the last official campsite before Machu Picchu. There is a restaurant where you can purchase drinks and even a well deserved beer, as well as hot showers ($1.5) and toilet facilities.
A short trail leaves from the southern end of the hostal to the ruins of Wiñay Wayna. The name in Quechua means 'forever young' and is named after a variety of pink orchid which grows here. The ruins comprise magnificent agricultural terraces set in an impressive location. There are also many buildings of good quality stonework and a sequence of 10 baths, suggesting that the site 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 the trail to Machu Picchu.
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