Waqrapucara is a unique fortress perched at the top of the hills of Acomayo, Cusco Peru. At first its pretty difficult to distinguish from the rest of mountainous landscape. But as you get closer, its two prominent horns start to stick out and reveal an archeological gem. It was strategically and intricately carved into the mountain top. Arriving at the summit at 4 140m/13 583ft, enjoy expansive views of the stunning mountains of southeastern Peru.
Etymology/ What does the name mean.
The site been called by more than one name through the years. Currently, the accepted name is Waqrapucara, which is a word that´s derived from the Quechua language. Waqra = horns and pucara=fortress, meaning Fortress of the horns. Now, another word that was possibly used in the past was Llamapukara. This name kind of makes a lot of sense, if you view the horns as the ears of a llama. Also, culturally the llama has always played a significant role in the indigenous cultures of Peru, being one of the first animals to be domesticated in the region.
What is Wacrapucara?
Waqrapukara is an impressive fortress perched atop a rugged mountain plateau in the remote countryside of the Cusco region in southern Peru. It was built by the Chanchi people, which is a civilization that preceded the Incas. It completely camouflages into the the mountain and you can only see the castle within as you get closer to the archeological complex. The Chanchi designed an impenetrable site with only one entrance door. It was later used as refuge to resist the encroaching Inca army, who were in the process of growing their empire. After the Incas took over, they improved the site and created terraces and the irrigation fountains they are so well known for. Once at the site you can admire the immaculate stone work and the seamless way in which the building blends and merges with the mountain.
Along with the main fortress complex, the site is also home to a series of eight Inca agricultural terraces with retaining walls. In Addition to the complex, you will find a cave whose still remains a complete mystery. Waqrapukara is just as majestic as the more famous sites of Southern Peru. Its still shrouded in mystique due to its isolated location and a lack of formal research at the site thus far. As archaeologist Miguel Cornejo recently told La República (one of Peru’s highest circulation newspapers): “Waqrapukara is an Inca sanctuary of the first order that denotes immense political and religious power, as-yet undeciphered.” A visit to this magical place would be an absolutely unforgettable way to spend a day or two on your trip to Cusco.
When is the Best Time to Hike to Waqrapucara Ruins
Waqrapukara Archaeological Park can be reached any time of the year; however, keep in mind that Peru has two very distinctive seasons, dry and rainy. In general, dry season is from May to October, while rainy season is from November until April. During the dry season, there is less rain, but the nights are much colder than the rainy season. With the rainy season comes the vivid green coloring, but also muddy trails and higher possibilities of mudslides. At the summit the highest temperatures reached have been around 19°C /66.2°F and an extremely harsh night could go as low as -6°C/21°F.
The hike is considered moderate to difficult. Waqrapukara is nestled in the beautiful rocky cliffs and sits at 13,583 feet (4,140 m). To put it into perspective, it´s almost double the altitude of Machu Picchu (7,972 feet / 2,430 m). The most popular route starts from the village of Sangarará sitting at 3 769m/ 12 366ft. The tallest mountain pass along the way is 14,925 ft. Your climb will take you to the stratospheric heights of Waqrapukara 13,583 feet (4,140 m). It´s imperative that you acclimatize properly before embarking on this trail. We recommend spending 2 or 3 days in Cusco or Sacred Valley. For more information on how to deal with altitude sickness click on the following link. Altitude sickness.
Carry coca tea and coca leaves to help alleviate altitude sickness. It’s also a common practice to leave “offerings” of coca leaves to the mountains, for safe passage and gratitude
Other recommendations for an awesome experience for a Hike to Waqrapucara Ruins
Hiking shoes or at least a pair of chunky soles.
Warm-up exercises before starting the walk, this will prevent possible muscle spasms.
Check out the days weather before embarking on the hike, but stay cognizant of the fact that the weather changes frequently.
We recommend acclimating to the altitude in Cusco or the Sacred Valley before hand.
Bring some snack like dry fruits, nuts or chocolate bars. Also bring extra water, you get easily dehydrated at high altitudes.
Carry different clothing to accommodation the changing highland weather.
You can rent trekking poles from Orange Nation, for some extra knee support.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Do not drink alcohol the day before the activity.
Orange Nation offers this tour on request. We can customize it to accommodate your travel schedule. Contact us by WhatsApp or email and we will be glad to be of assistance.
Waqrapucara is a unique fortress perched at the top of the hills of Acomayo, Cusco Peru. At first its pretty difficult to distinguish from the rest of mountainous landscape. But as you get closer, its two prominent horns start to stick out and reveal...