What to expect on the longest day of The Inca Trail

The porters home brew we'd had the night before made the longest day of the trail, longer. 

Day 03: Pacamayo to Wiñay Wayna (15km)

Even so, Day 3 was my favourite day.

Runkuracay Ruins

Runkuracay Ruins

From Pacamayo we climbed for an hour or so to the small, circular Runkuracay ruins.

Another 45 minutes later and we'd hiked to the second pass, Abra de Runkuracay.

We walked along what is for the most part, original Inca paving to get to the third pass. 

I found myself chatting away to most people on the tour, although at some points it's was nice to get lost in the rhythm and hike at my own pace. 

One of the coolest things about the Inca Trail is that although it’s a four day hike, the terrain changes constantly.

Day three is where the trail really diversifies. 

We hiked to the ruins of Sayamarca (Inaccessible Town), which sit at the top of a steep stone staircase surrounded on three sides by huge cliffs.

Looking out from Sayamarca (Inaccessable Town)

Looking out from Sayamarca (Inaccessable Town)

Headed through the Cloud Forest

Headed through the Cloud Forest

After we had climbed in, out and around small stoned rooms, peeked through rocky walls and explored to our satisfaction, we continued on.

The trail took us though a green cloud forest full of hanging moss, bright flowers and a tunnel that the Incas had carved into a rock along the way.

The view sprawls out across wide, deep precipices that are such a long, long way down I found myself hugging the side of the cliff along the way.

After the third pass, we came to Phuyupatamarca, or ‘Town in the Clouds’. The steep steps into these ruins lead down into six Inca baths and a whopping leg-shaking thousand steps or so descends back out of the ruins.

From there it’s a further two hours to reach the final campsite. 

The ruins around Wiñay Wayna are incredible. Quite a few are built in giant circular tiers in order to grow crops closer to, or further away from, the sun. It's an extraordinary display of agricultural know how. When we visited, the sun was starting to set and it caused each tier to spill it’s shadow onto the one below it, highlighting the intelligence behind the design.  

At dinner that that, the chef surprised us all by baking a cake, oven-less and at altitude, to celebrate our final night of the trek. Excellent cake baking skills too, I might add. It tasted amazing.  

I fell asleep in under a minute that last night. My feet were a little achy, but not too bad and nothing compared to the cold. Even with all this curly hair, I slept in my beanie every night.  

The next day was the final day of the trek.

It would be another pre-dawn wake up, although at 4.30am it was a sleep in compared to some other hikes in South America.

 

Phuyupatamarca 'Town in the Clouds'

Phuyupatamarca 'Town in the Clouds'