Phuyupatamarca is one of the most famous archaeological sites of the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu. It is an urban center where it has platforms for the cultivation of different agricultural products. It is located 32 kilometers from the beginning of the route to the Inca Trail (approximately 11 kilometers from Machu Picchu). The only way to visit it is through the 4-day Inca Trail tour. Just a few steps away is the camp of the same name.
Phuyupatamarca can only be visited on the 4-day Inca Trail. You get there after a 32-kilometer walk. A few steps away is a camp where visitors can spend the night under the stars. 8 kilometers from Phuyupatamarca is the Wiñayhuayna camp and archaeological site. In turn, just 3 kilometers away is the Intipunku, the entrance gate to Machu Picchu used by the Incas. These roads were the qhapac ñan, real Inca stretches that spanned more than 30 thousand kilometers and included part of the current countries of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina and Chile.
Phuyupatamarca, citadel above the clouds
Phuyupatamarca is one of the archaeological sites that can be seen along the 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Its name comes from Quechua words that mean: “Place above the clouds”. This is due to its geographical location on a mountain surrounded by mist, especially in the morning.
Like many Inca citadels around, Phuyupatamarca fulfilled an urban and religious function. In addition, dozens of platforms were built there for agricultural production that made Machu Picchu, Phuyupatamarca and the other urban centers communicated by the Qhapac ñan self-sustaining.
It is characterized by being built on the summit, from its position, you can see the Urubamba River. It is a set of enclosures, paths, a small bridge, three squares, a sacred rock and two main entrances. As well as irrigation canals, all with an imperial Inca style.
The whole complex is surrounded by abundant vegetation, typical of the jungle. It is in good condition.
Where is it located?
Phuyupatamarca is located in the so-called Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, an area of 32,592 hectares protected by the Peruvian State.
The archaeological site is in the so-called Urubamba valley (Vilcabamba mountain range), the same where Machu Picchu is. Its altitude reaches 3,580 meters above sea level.
Phuyupatamarca belongs to the Aguas Calientes district in the Urubamba province, about 105 kilometers from the city of Cusco (and only 13 kilometers on foot from Machu Picchu).
Route to Phuyupatamarca
The only way to visit Phuyupatamarca is through the 4-day Classic Inca Trail. In other words, you can only get there by walking a route of approximately 32 kilometers.
From Machu Picchu it is not possible to visit Phuyupatamarca because it is a route protected by the Peruvian State. It can only be visited with the 4-day Inca Trail.
Phuyupatamarca uses retaining walls that give firmness to a geography close to a high mountain cliff.
In total, fifteen buildings have been registered. Its two small squares, six ceremonial fountains, water channels, viewpoints and set of platforms stand out. Each of its levels are accessed by stone stairs.
Phuyupatamarca has underground water channels that fill the ceremonial fountains with water. The Incas used these sources of water for the purpose of ‘purification’ of the body.
Flora and fauna
Phuyupatamarca has a variety of striking flora and fauna. The most frequently seen plant and tree species are ferns, molles, eucalyptus and carnations. Of course, the more than 300 species of orchids registered in the area also stand out.
The most famous bird species are: the giant hummingbird, the long-eared turtle dove, the high Andean bluebird, the canastero, the royal churrete, the yellow-billed bandit and more. The species of mammals that inhabit the place are: the Andean deer, the spectacled bear, the llamas, the vizcachas and a diversity of insects where the butterflies stand out.
More information and tips
Phuyupatamarca is one of the two alternatives to camp on the third night (the other option is the Wiñayhuayna camp). This camp is located 13 kilometers from Machu Picchu. Therefore, on the last day, tourists must get up very early (averaging 4 in the morning) to complete the route and arrive at Machupicchu in the early hours of the day.
Phuyupatamarca is just a few meters from the camp of the same name. From there you can take an optional route to the archaeological site of Intipata. Most tourists do not have the energy to do this walk. For this reason, few visitors get to know the archaeological site of Intipata.
The Inca Trail remains closed in February. The rest of the year it is open to all visitors. As it is a route protected by the Peruvian State, you have to buy a tour through a tourism agency. The demand is so high that it is necessary to purchase the tour 6 or 7 months in advance. Otherwise, no availability will be achieved.
By Inca Trail Machu Picchu - Last updated, 03-01-2022
Interested in the Inca Trail? Know more about Archaeological sites!
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