In this fabulous off-the-beaten path day hike we will experience a side of Cusco that very few others see. We will pass through Andean communities, experience the natural beauty of lush mountain canyons and streams, pass by ancient Incan terraces, enjoy splendid views of the City of Cusco, make our way through agricultural lands with ancient farming techniques still in use, and conclude our journey with a visit to the ruins of Wanakauri – famous from Incan mythology as the place where the God Wiracocha plunged his golden cane into the ground and thus founded the City of Cusco as the Capital of the mighty Incan Empire.
Cusco Day Hike to the Ruins of Wanakauri
We will start by picking you up from your hotel or hostel in Cusco around 8 AM in our private transport. From there, we will head towards the Cusco airport and heading up the Huilcarpay Canyon. After a 30-minute drive through beautiful country scenery right outside of Cusco, we will arrive at the village of Huilcarpay where we will begin our day hike.
You will be accompanied by an Ascend Travel hiking guide for the duration of this trip – during the hike he/she will explain the different sites we visit and discuss the history of the Cusco. The first zone of our trek is an ascent through a gorgeous Andean canyon – replete a beautiful mountain stream, small waterfalls, tall eucalyptus trees, an abundance of Andean shrubbery, and lots of bird wildlife. We will take plenty of breaks a long the way to stay hydrated and take pictures.
After approximately 1-½ hours of hiking, we will emerge upon a beautiful valley filled with fields of corn, “habas” (Andean Lima beans), potatoes, and flowers. Surrounded by sharp and steep hills, this is a beautiful natural sight. You will be able to imagine that you are living in ancient Peru, as there is no sign of modern humanity in sight. We continue along an old Incan trail that passes by ancient ruins and agricultural terraces. Take a moment to take it all in – we are in no rush.
After 2 more hours of hiking, we will make it to the high point of the canyon – a rocky overlook of a small Andean community and the many scraggly peaks that make up the high Andes “altiplano” near Cusco. Here, we will break for lunch – and you will enjoy a gourmet sack lunch prepared by a renowned Cusco lunch spot.
After breaking for lunch, we will head to our final destination on this hike - the famous ruins of Wanakauri (Only 30 minutes from our lunch spot). Although small in comparison to most of Cusco’s ruins, it is a site of tremendous mythological significance for the Incas. The legend goes something like this:
“Wiracocha (the Incan creator God), the god who banished the darkness, ordered the sun to send to Earth a son and a daughter in order to illuminate the way for mankind. The children of the sun (Manko Qhapaq and his sister Mama Oqllo) arrived at the shores of Lake Titicaca and began their uncertain and long trip through the mountain range to the North. They had a golden cane – and in the place where it was able to sink into the Earth with the first thrust they would found Wiracocha’s new kingdom. These children of the sun would do as their father, the sun, does. He who illuminates and gives heat, spills the rain and the dew, he who encourages the crops, multiplies the herds and visits the world every day – would also be the duties of his son and daughter. Uselessly they tried to insert the cane into the ground everywhere they went, but the ground was not yielding.
They kept on looking everywhere they went. They climbed summits, crossed plateaus and braved strong river currents. Everything over which they treaded began to transform: the sterile grounds were becoming fertile, the barren marshes were drying up, and the rivers were returning to their riverbeds. They were escorted at the dawn by the geese, and at dusk by the mighty condors. During their trek across the mountain range, they came Mount Wanakauri where they once again tried to sink the golden cane into the Earth. This time, they were successful. The ground swallowed the golden cane. Immediately, a rainbow arose in the sky between the ''puna'' (Andean mountain grassland) and the mountain range.
Near Lake Titicaca, from which the children of the sun had emerged, the residents of the Earth – the humans – had no homes. They were living in caves – sheltered by the rocks and feeding only off of roots; and they could weave neither cotton nor wool in order to fend off the harsh winter cold. But they believed in the children of the sun. From the resplendence of their eyes and words, they all realized that the children of the sun were not going to lie to them. And so they followed them to the place where they waited – Mount Wanakauri – and they founded the great City of Qosqo – which thrived and became the capital city of the mighty Incan Empire – and the modern day city of Cusco.”
After visiting these ruins and learning the legend behind Wanakauri, we will begin our descent to Cusco along the same trail or have our van meet us on the road near Wanakauri for a quick and easy descent (please specify at time of booking). This concludes our day hike adventure right outside of Cusco.