About Wiñay Wayna
Wiñay Wayna, literally translated as “forever young” from Quechua, is an Inca site along the Inca Trail close to the famous ruins of Machu Picchu.
History of Wiñay Wayna
It’s thought Wiñay Wayna was built in the early or mid 15th century, along with multiple other similar sites in the vicinity. It technically forms part of the Inca Trail, and so it’s thought it was a site of religious and ceremonial importance, as well as simply a rest stop for dignitaries before the last 26 miles of the arduous journey to the royal retreat at Machu Picchu.
The site was built into a steep hillside overlooking the Urubamba River, and the remnants of steep, stepped agricultural terraces, a variety of house complexes, staircases and a fountain are still visible today. The architecture is defined by its graceful curves juxtaposing with sharp linear structures and jagged walls. Construction of the site remains a feat in itself given its remoteness and the lack of available tools.
Wiñay Wayna today
Wiñay Wayna remains pretty off the beaten track, and it’s pretty much empty most of the time, with only the odd Inca Trail camper around (there’s a campsite nearby). Don’t come expecting signage or a swish museum – whilst it has been excavated, it’s remote, atmospheric, and needs imagination and thought to bring it vividly to life.
Most people would arrange to camp nearby en route to Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail, but it is possible to visit independently. Look out for the remarkable orchids in the surrounding countryside. There’s also a pleasant waterfall in the vicinity.
Getting to Wiñay Wayna
Most people come here on their way to Machu Picchu, although it is possible to access Wiñay Wayna from the small town of Aguas Calientes via a decent hike. It takes about 3-4 hours from Aguas Calientes, or 90 minutes from Machu Picchu itself.