Sayacmarca on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

On our 4-day Inca Trail journey, we discovered Sayacmarca, an archaeological treasure that defies the heights. This site offers a unique perspective of Inca grandeur. In this article, we will explore in detail the location, constructions, history and essential tips to make the most of your visit to this impressive site.

Sayacmarca on the Inca Trail

Sayacmarca on the Inca Trail

Sayacmarca, which in Quechua means ‘Standing Village’ or ‘Dominant Village’, exhibits its splendor through narrow streets, enclosures and passages arranged in varying planes. The richness of its architecture is revealed as one explores its intricate structures. The complex sits on the edge of a precipice, offering a unique vertical architectural experience. This feature immerses visitors in the majesty of the Inca civilization.

Discovery and History of Sayacmarca

Discovered in 1915 by the intrepid Hiram Bingham, the same explorer who revealed Machu Picchu in 1911. Sayacmarca initially bore the name ‘Cedrobamba’. However, in 1941, the expedition led by Paul Fejos renamed it Sayacmarca. It is believed that this site has roots prior to the Incas, although it was the Incas who adapted it and provided it with dozens of agricultural terraces.

Location and Route

Sayacmarca on the Inca Trail

Located in the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, at the convergence of the Urubamba and Aobamba valleys. Sayacmarca stands at 3,625 meters above sea level. The route to this archeological treasure begins 20 kilometers on foot from the beginning of the Inca Trail. At kilometer 82 of the railroad that connects Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes. From Sayacmarca, you can continue along the Inca trails to Machu Picchu or explore the descending route to the jungle of Cusco.

Impressive Constructions

The grandeur of Sayacmarca is evident in its religious buildings and residences for the Inca elite. The semi-circular, cliff-edge religious structure offers impressive views of the surrounding landscape. Although Sayacmarca’s limited space resulted in fewer agricultural terraces. Its vertical architecture and levels accessible only by narrow paths and stairs demonstrate Inca mastery.

Tips and Practical Data

Strategic Location:

Just 2 kilometers from Runkurakay, Sayacmarca is part of a trek that includes Phuyupatamarca and Wiñayhuayna before reaching Machu Picchu.

Climatic Conditions:

Due to its high altitude, Sayacmarca is often covered in dense fog, especially in the mornings. Be prepared for temperatures ranging from 2ºC to 23ºC.

Restricted Access:

The only way to visit Sayacmarca is via the 4-day Inca Trail, protected by the Peruvian Ministry of Culture. Purchase your permit in advance through authorized tourism agencies, as demand is high.

Sayacmarka is not only a landmark on the Inca Trail, but also a window into the architectural and historical grandeur of the Incas. By exploring this site, you immerse yourself in the essence of a civilization that left its mark on the heights of the Andes.

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