Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a famous tourist trekking spot in South American region. It starts from famous ancient city of Inca Empire Cusco, Peru to Machu Picchu. A lot of trekking tours to Machu Picchu are arranged from Cusco City, which is of 4-5 days. Even tours of one or two days are also present. It consists of three overlapping trails: Mollepata, Classic, and One Day. These trails consist of great scenic beauties, mountain views, adventurous trekking points.

Mollepata is the longest of the three routes with the highest mountain pass and intersects with the Classic route before crossing Warmiwanusca ("Dead Woman's Pass"). Located in the Andes mountain range, the trail passes through several types of Andean environments including cloud forest and alpine tundra.

Classic Trail - This is the most famous trail among the three. It starts from one of two points: 88 km (55 miles) or 82 km (51 miles) from Cusco on the Urubamba River at approximately 2,800 metres (9,200 ft) or 2,600 metres (8,500 ft) altitude, respectively.
Both of these trail segments meet above the Inca ruins of Patallacta (sometimes called Llactapata), a site used for religious and ceremonial functions, crop production, and housing for soldiers from the nearby hilltop site of Willkaraqay, an ancient pre-Inca site first inhabited around 500 BC. The trail undulates, but overall ascends along Rio Cusichca (aka River Kusichca or "happy river"). At the small village of Wayllabamba the trail intersects with the "Mollepata Trail" at 3,000 metres (9,800 ft). At Wayllabamba the trail to Machu Picchu turns west and begins ascending along a tributary of the Cusichaca.

As the trail ascends toward Warmiwañusca, or "Dead Woman's Pass", which resembles a supine woman, it passes through differing habitats, one of which is a cloud forest containing Polylepis trees. The campsite at Llulluchapampa is located on this stretch of trail at 3,800 metres (12,500 ft). The pass itself is located at 4,215 m (13,829 ft) above sea level, and is the highest point on this, the "Classic" trail. After crossing the pass the trail drops steeply into the Pacaymayu River drainage. At a distance of 2.1 km and 600 m below the pass is the campground Pacaymayu.
After passing Pacaymayu the trail begins steeply ascending the other side of the valley. One kilometre along the trail, at an altitude of 3,750 metres (12,300 ft) is the Incan tambo of Runkuraqay, which overlooks the valley.  The trail continues to ascend, passing a small lake named Laguna Cochapata in an area that is recognized as deer habitat. The trail reaches the pass at an altitude of 3950 m. The Trail continues through high cloud forest, undulating, sometimes steeply while affording increasingly dramatic viewpoints of mountains and dropoffs. A long Inca tunnel and a viewpoint overlooking two valleys: the Urubamba and Aobamba, are passed. Phuyupatamarka ruins Another high point at altitude of 3650 m is crossed, followed by a campground, and then after a short descent, a site with extensive ruins. The name Phuyupatamarka (Cloud-level Town) is applied to both the campground, and the ruins. The trail then descends approximately 1000 metres including an irregular staircase of approximately 1500 steps, some of which were carved into solid granite. A second Incan tunnel is along this section of trail.

Even before passing through the tunnel there are views down to the Urubamba River, the first since leaving the river at Patallacta. The number of these views increases. After the tunnel the town of Aguas Calientes can be seen, and trains running along the river can be heard. As the trail nears Intipata, it affords views of the "Two Day" Inca Trail (aka "Camino Real de los Inkas" or "One Day Inca Trail"). A small spur of the trail leads directly to Wiñay Wayna, while the main route continues to Intipata. Two groups of major architectural structures, a lower and upper, are set among multiple agricultural terraces at this concave mountainside site. A long flight of fountains or ritual baths utilizing as many as 19 springs runs between the two groups of buildings. From Wiñay Wayna the trail undulates along below the crest of the east slope of the mountain named Machu Picchu. The steep stairs leading to Intipunku (sun gate) are reached after approximately 3 km. Reaching the crest of this ridge reveals the grandeur of the ruins of Machu Picchu, which lie below. A short downhill walk is the final section of the trail.


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