Wiñayhuayna, whose Quechua name means ‘forever young’, emerges as a hidden gem among the majestic mountains that surround Machu Picchu. In this Inca enclosure, nature intertwines with stone architecture, creating a landscape that captivates both for its beauty and its historical legacy. In this article, we will dive into the wonders of Wiñay huayna, exploring its location, history, notable constructions and how to get there from Machu Picchu.
Discovering the Route to Wiñayhuayna
Where is Wiñayhuayna?
- Wiñayhuayna rises just 5 kilometers walk from Machu Picchu, in the Urubamba Valley and the Vilcabamba mountain range, at 2,650 meters above sea level. Its name, ‘forever young’, resonates with the abundance of orchids that flourish in the region.
How to get there?
- Access to Wiñay huayna is exclusively through the Inca Trail, either the classic 4-day version or the shorter 2-day version. This ancestral trail immerses us in Inca history. It connects the citadels of Wiñayhuayna and Machu Picchu through the ancient Inca royal roads, known as ‘qhapac ñan’.
History and Constructions
Wiñayhuayna, Eternal Youth
Wiñayhuayna was discovered in 1941 by Paul Fejos and deeply investigated by Julio C. Tello. Built in the 15th century by order of Emperor Pachacutec, this site was part of the network of Inca cities. Abandoned during the Vilcabamba wars in the 16th century, it remained shrouded in vegetation until its rediscovery.
1. Set of terraces
Huge terraces of up to 40 levels where the Incas cultivated corn and coca leaves.
2. The Tower:
A semicircular temple with seven trapezoidal windows for religious ceremonies.
3. Ritual Fountains:
Ten water fountains for religious purposes and purification ceremonies.
4. Enclosure of the Inca:
A set of enclosures on the summit, possibly the Inca emperor’s enclosure.
The Inca Trail and Wiñayhuayna
Wiñayhuayna is part of the famous Inca trails, recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site. These trails connect Cusco with more than 30 thousand kilometers of network, highlighting the importance of Wiñay huayna in the Inca communication network.
How to Get from Wiñayhuayna to Machu Picchu
Wiñayhuayna is only 5 kilometers from Machu Picchu. Following the ‘qhapac ñan’ trails, the hike takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes, culminating at the Intipunku (Sun Gate), which offers a breathtaking panoramic view. From there, a 40-minute walk leads to the archaeological sector of Machupicchu.
Planning the Visit
Price of the Visit
- Inca Trail Tour 4 days: Approximately US$800 per tourist.
- Inca Trail Tour 2 days: Approximately 550 US dollars per tourist.
For those doing the 4-day Inca Trail, there is a nearby campsite where they spend the third night.
Wiñayhuayna has a temperate and humid climate, it is recommended to wear a windbreaker jacket, especially from November to April, when rains are more frequent.
Wiñay huayna, with its eternal youth, stands as a living testament to Inca grandeur. Inaccessible by road, this treasure is revealed to those who undertake the Inca Trail. Immerse yourself in the history, majesty and serenity of Wiñay huayna, an experience that transcends time and imagination.