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Findings on the route

The jewels of the Incan road

A traveler feels that the fatigue vanishes in front of the astonishing beauty of Wiñaywayna, one of the archaeological complexes that can be found in the Incan road towards Machu Picchu. Then, alone in his tent, he remembers the names of the pre-Hispanic vestiges spread on the old path of over 40 kilometers: Patallaqta, Runjurakay, Sayaqmarca, Conchamarka and Intipata are the magnificent places that constitute the antechamber of the great citadel, the most visited tourist attraction of Peru.

     When I arrived at Wiñaywayna, I felt how the exhaustion vanished. The fatigue stepped back, looked for a shelter, and put itself aside in front of a renewed impulse that forced us to know every corner, every stone piece and every cultivation terrace sculpted in the mountains. In this place there's no room for numb muscles or wrecked knees. Here, everything has to do with observation, only the amazement in front of the orange-tinted dusk.

     You sit down on one of the lithic steps. Behind you, there is a palace or large fortified tower made of stones that fit perfectly and have a fine finishing.
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    Underneath, you can find a cover of green cultivation terraces, an uneven staircase that descends abruptly and several pirkas (lithic walls) juggling on the edge of the hill.

     The observation breaks up. You start listening steps, laughs, and words in different languages; then, Wiñaywayna- the amazing archaeological complex located on a corner of the famous Incan road that leads to Machu Picchu- becomes an Andean Tower of Babel at 2,700 m.a.s.l. seized to the side of a mountain, which descends up to the canyon of the Urubamba River.

     Now, a thunderous click shooting starts. Smiles for posterity, images for remembrance: a carrot-haired girl uses her top model grimaces for the first time in the threshold of a trapezoidal door of Incan style; meanwhile, a big boy of Nordic appearance perpetuates a ferocity gesture next to one of the 10 ritual fountains of the cultivation terraces sector.

     Among the noises, you can distinguish a voice with clear accent from Cusco that reveals that the name Wiñaywayna (forever young)- Incan construction discovered by Paul Fejos in 1941- derives from a Quechua word related to the orchid species Epidendrum cassilabium, which is pretty common in this dream spot.

     The observation is over. You come back to the camp, the third and last one of your roaming journey through the fabulous soil and stone path that leads to Machu Picchu. Once again, the leg indisposition and the stitches in the knees come back. You close your eyes to forget the pain and you get it, memories serve as anesthesia.

An archaeological rosary
     Impertinent drops beat the tent. Farewell tears of the sky, because Machu Picchu is very close, there's only one span left, another ascent that will start at daybreak "so as to see the citadel at dawn", said the guide, without foreseeing the trap of clouds and fog set by the sky in order to preclude the observation from the Intipunku or sun door.

     But that would happen later, now you are in the tent, putting your personal experiences in order, remembering the names of the Incan constructions visited along the road, a sort of archaeological rosary whose beads are visited by tens of pilgrims that want to auscultator the past of those men that worshiped the sun.

     Everything happened very fast. The emotion felt on crossing the suspension bridge, located at the kilometer 82 of the Cusco-Machu Picchu railway, had not passed yet and you could already see the first architectonic "traces" of the Incas: Patallaqta, a rustic complex with many rooms made of stones jointed with mortar.

     The hours passed among steps, sweat, ascents, descents and watching the landscape: the Urubamba cordillera and La Verónica snow-capped mountain (5,800 meters high), formerly called sacred tear (Weqey Willka in Quechua). The day ends up. The sun fades among the hills, the first stars appear and the camp is picked up.

     Second journey: you suffer on ascending to the dales of the Warmiwañusqa (dead woman), located at 4,200 m.a.s.l., and Runkurakay (ovoid shed) at 3,900 m.a.s.l.; but you will enjoy on walking through Runkurakay, the "tambo" or hostelry for Incan travelers; Sayaqmarka (standing or straight place), an administrative and ceremonial center; and, Conchamarka (the bonfire place), a petrous construction related to the first one.

     What would the road bring us on the third day? Phuyupatamarka (place over the clouds) is the name of a dale and an administrative and religious center, which stands out due to its upper ovoid platform, its water fountains and carved grand staircases. Afterwards, you will encounter the faraway vision of the Intipata, with its cultivable terraces and walls of upright stones.

     Memories were defeated by sleepiness. The guide's voice announces the departure. Fourth Day. Final Journey. Machu Picchu, which hides capriciously behind a fog cover, is the only place that hasn't been visited. The rosary does not have any more beads. End of the adventure in the Incan road.

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