The last push…

towards the Machu Picchu and I hope until the spring arrives

Trekking on the Inca trail to Machu Picchu – part III

After reaching the highest point at the Dead’s Women pass, what follows is really an up and down ‘climb’ of three more mountain passes and a few Inca ruins with similar sounding names: Runcurakay, Sayaqmarka and Phuyupatamarca.  The trail itself varies from wide and promenade-like to steep, cut-in-stone stairs. When in the cloud forest, there is the unforgettable imagery of trees dripping with lichens, moss, orchids and bromeliads. At some point, we even passed a sphagnum and peat bog area resembling a coral reef habitat at the bottom of the ocean, but with orchids. Then there were tree ferns and some odd looking Araceae, and then more orchids…and some more.

In the featured image – Vallea stipularis (capuli) is a somewhat rare evergreen shrub native to South America (fam. Elaeocarpaceae), usually growing above the cloud forest. I am sure we missed many plants when too tired to look away from the slippery stone steps.

Phuyupatamarca, called ‘Town in the Clouds’ and Winay Wayna (translated “Eternal Youth’ or ‘Forever Young’), both relatively close to Machu Picchu displayed the characteristic clusters of houses interconnected by long and abrupt staircases with fountain structures (called ‘baths’ at Winay Wayna); and to deal with the steep slopes – large terraced areas of what where, presumably agricultural terraces. Too much to explore and too little available time…

The first sight of Huana Picchu is an exhilarating moment. Some are lucky to arrive there in a sunny day, and some are not – like us. It was rainy, cloudy, misty, and we were soaked to the skin. But that didn’t temper our enthusiasm, just made everything more mysterious.


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