Sitting in the shadow of it’s show-off world famous neighbor Machu Picchu, a mere 4 miles (6kms) away on Peru’s Inca trail, the ruins of Winay Wayna lay quietly eclipsed by the far more popular ancient Incan city.

Winay Wayna

Bucket list hikers who have spent three previous days slogging on the high altitude trail, with travel visions of Machu Picchu dancing in their head, seem to barely glance at the virtual unknown when they reach the Incan complex of Winay Wayna.

Panting for breath at 8,860 ft (2,700m), moving over paved stone paths and stairs cut into mountainsides, these breathtaking ruins of Peru meaning “forever young”.  One can’t help but think if Machu Picchu did not exist down the path, wouldn’t Ms. Wayna be a destination unto itself?

Winay Wayna

As we huffed and puffed our way up the incredibly steep stairs I imagined what it might have been like in the days of the Incas. Then messengers ran the Inca trail to send news across the kingdom. My news was that my heart was feeling as though it might be beating out of my chest in the thin air.

Likely the Incan messengers did stay forever young navigating the steep climbs of Winay Wayna. Clearly I would not be recruited for any such duties based on my respiratory performance resembling an off key accordion.

I suspected that if I were to fell backward on the stairs some speed could be attained. Perhaps I could bring news to those below.

Winay Wayna

Four distinct sections make up the town of Winay Wayna. The urban sector, made up of one and two story buildings, an agricultural area with terraces,  a religious or ritual area and and the tower area. The extraordinary stone workmanship of the Incas can be easily seen in the urban area where trapezoidal windows, doors, stairs and fountains remain.

Final words on  Peru’s Winay Wayna

With it’s striking architecture and location to an access road suggests this little known  ruin had once been very important township for the Incas. Sadly now most who see the spectacular site have one thing on their mind and that is reaching the final destination of the Sun Gate entrance of Machu Picchu.

winay wayna peru

Have you  heard of Winay Wayna?

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