After a night of rain, it was cloudy and foggy throughout much of the day while we trekked through the cloud forest. This third day of the Inca Trail saw us went past mountain passes with the highest at 3,950m, passed by several Inca ruins, wandered through the Peruvian cloud forest, and descended 1,000m down to the Winay Wayna campsite at 2,650m. The dramatic difference in altitude allowed us to experience the distinct environment between cloud forest and tropical woodlands. After a day of hiking in the humid forest, where heavy mist lingered around tree canopies, we were delighted to reach Winay Wayna, our last campground before reaching Machu Picchu, in late afternoon. Similar to the previous two days, our guide Freddie was always enthusiastic on explaining the history and legends about everything we saw along the way. That evening, we had another rainy night. The campground at Winay Wayna was fully packed with trekkers. We were told that hot showers (fees required) were available, but we rather waited another day until we arrived back at Cusco for a well-deserved hot shower.
Mountains and mist were the first things to greet us in early morning.
It was cloudy and misty throughout much of the day.
The misty landscape was poetic and picturesque.
One of the first Inca ruins we encountered was tampu Runkuraqay.
At certain moments, the scenery looked more tropical than the Andean highlands.
Qunchamarka was another decent Inca ruin down at the valley.
Sayacmarca (3,600m), another impressive Inca ruin that we actually climbed up for a visit.
Sayacmarca could be translated as “Town in a Steep Place”.
After climbing about 100 narrow and steep steps, we reached the main platform of Sayacmarca. We sat down at one of the terraces in the complex, where our guide Freddie explained to us some brief information about the site.
Similar to Machu Picchu, Sayacmarca was first discovered by the American explorer Hiram Bingham in early 20th century.
The third day also saw us walking on some section of the original Inca Trail.
Ferns, moss and tropical trees were common in the cloud forest.
Misty path in the cloud forest.
Phuyupatamarca, “Town in the Clouds”, was another prominent Inca ruins along the Inca Trail.
Just as its name suggested, Phuyupatamarca was truly a “Town in the Clouds”.
Winay Wayna (forever young) was the last Inca ruin we visited before reaching the campground.
Overlooking Urubamba River, the ruin and the campground at Winay Wayna (forever young) was impressive and very popular.
* * *
Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010
1. Peru Trip 2010
2. Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3. Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4. Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5. Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6. Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru
Other than El Fuerte, Amboro National Park is the other big draw for visitors coming to Samaipata. Located roughly 40 minutes of drive from Samaipata, Amboro is relatively easy to access comparing to other national parks in Bolivia. Amboro is famous for its diverse landscapes and terrains, offering a large variety of vegetation from Amazonian rainforest, Chaco plains of cactus and palms, to cloud forest of ferns and trees. We chose the cloud forest as our destination to check out its prehistoric vegetation. Situated from 1800m to 3500m above sea level, the cloud forests of Amboro serves as a major water source supporting cities and towns at the lowlands, including Santa Cruz. The cloud forest acts like a sponge, capturing the moisture in the air and gradually releasing the water to streams and rivers. For us, the biggest highlight of Amboro’s cloud forest is the giant ferns. They are the rare survivors from the prehistoric eras. According to our guide, one species of the ferns even predates the dinosaurs, while the other major species originates from the Jurassic Period. Since ferns reproduce by spores instead of flowers and seeds, there are little resources in the fern forest to support a large population of animals. We did see a few interesting birds during the trek. With steep and muddy ascends and descends, the trek turned out to be tougher than what we imagined, but we were glad that we made it to see the giant ferns, some reaching more than 10m tall. Given that some grow only 1 to 2cm per year, some of the ferns we saw are hundreds and even over a thousand years of age.
* * *
Read other posts on Samaipata & Santa Cruz, Bolivia:
Day 27.2 – Night Arrival, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 28.1 – El Fuerte, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 28.2 – Town, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 29.1 – Finca la Vispera, Sampaipata, Bolivia
Day 29.2 – Garden Cafe at Finca la Vispera, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 30.1 – Cloud Forest at Amboro National Park, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 30.2 – Starry Night, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 31.1 – Goodbye, Samaipata, Bolivia
Day 31.2 – Centro, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia
* * *
South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought