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Paucarcancha Archaeological Site

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Paucarcancha Archaeological Site

Paucarcancha is one of the lesser-known archaeological sites along the famous hiking route known as the Inca Trail. It is a small Inca citadel and administrative control center on whose platforms various agricultural products such as potatoes and corn were grown. Due to its location in the high mountains, it can only be visited through this route to Machu Picchu. Not many tourists know it because it requires an additional walk to the classic route.



During the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, several Inca archaeological sites are observed. The most famous are: Llactapata, Runkurakay, Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca and Wñayhuayna. However, along the roads there are important citadels and checkpoints. One of these is Paucarcancha. This set of terraces, enclosures and viewpoints can be visited on the third day of the walk. But this requires an 'extra' walk of approximately 2 kilometers. Because of this, not many visitors get to know this archaeological site.


What is it?

Paucarcancha is one of the archaeological sites visible during the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. It is a citadel and administrative control center from where the passage of people through the qhapac ñan was monitored.


It stands out for its ovoid shape that makes up up to eleven agricultural terraces. It also has ceremonial enclosures with high walls from where you have incredible views of the entire place.


Due to its strategic location at the top of the mountainous geography, in addition to being a surveillance post, Paucarcancha functions as a religious center. There they worshiped the Inca gods such as the sun, the moon and the snow-capped mountains.


Towards the right side there is a path that leads to the immense snow-capped Salkantay. On the other side we continue towards Machu Picchu.


Where is?

The archaeological site of Paucarcancha is located 3,133 meters above sea level. It is located in the district of Ollantaytambo, town of Qhesca, province of Urubamba, department of Cusco.


It is located in a south west direction from the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. To get there it is necessary to do an additional walk of approximately 2 kilometers during the third day of walking. Because of this, not many tourists manage to visit Paucarcancha.


The route followed is demanding. You must walk from Huayllabamba following the banks of the Cusichaca River. The landscape is a valley and is covered with subtropical humid forest, with abundant flora from the area such as: bromeliads, orchids, ferns, mosses and begonias.


What to see?

It is a set of platforms, for agricultural use with the presence of enclosures and 2 free areas that could have been 2 patios.


You can see the presence of an Inca court; that is, the architectural pattern of housing that they had at that time. Rectangular enclosures with inclined walls, trapezoidal doors and the presence of windows or niches can also be seen.


The buildings are located around two circular patios on the sides. The set of up to eleven platforms that survive to this day are ovoid in shape.


Tourism in the Archaeological Site of Paucarcancha

The Paucarcancha archaeological complex is part of the tourist attractions found in the Ollantaytambo district, specifically within the Qhesqa community, in the province of Urubamba, in the department of Cusco.


This archaeological complex is made up of two clearly differentiated areas, the first of which includes the agricultural space of Paucarcancha, so the beautiful and useful terrace systems of the site can be observed. The other space of Paucarcancha is simultaneously subdivided into different areas, within the first of these there are spaces that connect with a patio, the second includes a court, in addition to the main plaza of the circuit; The third presents two enclosures that have a patio in the middle and sector IV and V include Inca courts, with the difference that the last space is on the top of a hill, that is, in the highest part of the entire place.


The residential structures of Paucarcancha share in common that they have rectangular floor plans and have walls that generally have niches as well as a slight inclination, traditional in Inca constructions.


This archaeological site is part of the Inca Trail route that leads to Machu Picchu and lasts approximately 3 to 4 hours. To go to this complex it is necessary to enter the Wayllabamba valley, after which you continue towards Patawasi, from where you continue upstream for two kilometers until you reach the complex.


More information

If you do the 5-day Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu, you will have the opportunity to have a camp near the archaeological site of Paucarcancha. If you go on the 4-day Inca Trail you will see the archaeological site further away, about 2 or 3 kilometers from your path.


It is presumed that some skeletal remains that were returned from Yale University to Peru in 2010 (after being moved from Machu Picchu in 1911) actually belong to Paucarcancha.


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