The third day of hiking has a lot of downhill hiking through cloud forests. The sites you pass by are also becoming more refined and clearly serve a ceremonial purpose. Sayacmarca overlooks its surroundings in a spectacular manner. The location of Sayamarca may have been due to a signaling system employed along the trail. It consists of a tight plan of rooms and included a hollowed log to bridge a water channel into the site. The trail winds through spectacular terrain that includes steep traverses and tunnels.

Phuyupatamarca is located in the cloud forests and is heavily overgrown. The site's most notable features are the aligned ritual baths that border the complex. Water cascades down from the uppermost bath through five nearly identical constructions. It's hard not to imagine a ceremonial series of ever more purifying baths as the bather moves up.




The final day begins very early as most hikers attempt to get to Initpunku, the Sun Gate. The sun rises over this cleft in the ridge and shines its first rays down on Machu Picchu below. As you finish the hike down to Machu Picchu you pass a temple structure that incorporates many of the Inca beliefs. An in situ stone has been shaped into a three-tiered shape indicating the three levels of the Inca universe. The lower level is that of the Snake, the earthly level is that of the Puma, and the upper level of the Gods is that of the Condor. The three tiers are repeated throughout the Inca Empire at nearly all ceremonial sites.

Intipunku, The Sun Gate

Three tiered temple. Wayna Picchu in the background

Machu Picchu


Machu Picchu 3