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Paucarcancha archaeological site
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paucarcancha Inca trail

Paucarcancha is one of the lesser known archaeological sites during the famous hiking route known as the Inca Trail. It is a small Inca citadel and administrative control center on whose platforms various agricultural products such as potatoes and corn were grown. Due to its location in the high mountains, it can only be visited through this route to Machu Picchu. Not many tourists know it because it requires an additional walk to the classic route.

What is it?

Paucarcancha is one of the archaeological sites visible during the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. It is a citadel and administrative control center from where the passage of people through the Qhapac ñan was monitored.

It stands out for its ovoid shape that makes it up to eleven agricultural terraces. It also has ceremonial enclosures with high walls from where you have incredible views of the entire place.

Due to its strategic location at the top of the mountainous geography, in addition to being a guard post, Paucarcancha functioned as a religious center. There they worshiped the Inca gods such as the sun, the moon and the high snow-capped mountains.

Towards the right side there is a path that leads to the immense snowy Salkantay. On the other side, we continue towards Machu Picchu.

Where is?

The archaeological site of Paucarcancha is located 3,133 meters above sea level. It is located in the district of Ollantaytambo, town of Qhesca, province of Urubamba, department of Cusco.

It is located south west from the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. To get there it is necessary to do an additional walk of approximately 2 kilometers during the third day of walking. Due to this, not many tourists manage to visit Paucarcancha.

The route that is followed is demanding. You must walk from Huayllabamba along the banks of the Cusichaca River. The landscape is valley and covered in subtropical humid forest, with abundant flora of the area such as: bromeliads, orchids, ferns, mosses and begonias.

What to see

It is a set of platforms, for agricultural use with the presence of enclosures and 2 free areas that could have been 2 patios.

The presence of an Inca court is seen; that is to say, the architectural pattern of housing that they had at that time. Rectangular enclosures with sloping walls, a trapezoidal door and the presence of windows or niches can also be seen.

The buildings are around two patios in a circular shape on the sides. The set of up to eleven platforms that survive to this day have an ovoid shape.

More information

If the 5-day Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu is done You will have the opportunity to have a camp near the archaeological site of Paucarcancha. If you go on the 4-day Inca Trail you will see the archaeological site further away, about 2 or 3 kilometers from your way.

Some skeletal remains that were returned from Yale University to Peru in 2010 (after being transferred from Machu Picchu in 1911) are presumed to actually belong to Paucarcancha.


By Inca Trail Machu Picchu - Last updated, 14-12-2021

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