The Inca Quarry Trail offers hikers incredible Andean scenery, challenging mountain passes and the opportunity for local interactions with the trail winding through villages in the Sacred Valley.
If that’s not enough for you to lace up your boots, you’ll get to see some of the lesser known archaeological sites and learn about the impressive building techniques used by the Incas. While many travellers visit Peru to see Machu Picchu (and hiking the Quarry Trail you still get to see this amazing site), there’s so much more to the Sacred Valley region, scattered with Inca ruins and relics to explore.
Before the Quarry Trail hike begins, you’ll visit Choquequilla – a small ceremonial place where Incas worshipped the moon and the sun according to the change in seasons. It was a place dedicated to Pachamama (Mother Earth) and has beautifully carved edges as part of an altar. Nobody knows for sure its real name – some locals call it naupa iglesia.
Found within a clearing along the trail, the site was used as a checkpoint during the times of the Incas, and a resting spot for passing travellers and pilgrims on their way to Machu Picchu. A significant amount of the site is made up of storerooms, with plenty of space to keep food and supplies. Following the first pass, the path overlooks grasslands; arriving to the top of the second pass you will see the Urubamba mountain range and – if you’re lucky – a condor flying through the valley.
3. Inti Punku
In the local language, Inti Punku means Sun Gate; the Incas built these structures throughout the Andes in honour of the sun god ‘Inti’ (not to be mistaken for the well-known Sun Gate at Machu Picchu). On the Quarry Trail, this marks the location of a smaller archaeological site with spectacular views of the snow-capped mountain ‘Veronica’, and into the Sacred Valley below overlooking the ancient town of Ollantaytambo.
Further down the hill, you’ll come across small buildings that appear to be the remains of residences – experts have suggested these may have been used by stone masons recruited from all over South America to work in the quarry during the height of the Inca empire.
5. Kachiqata quarry
Making your way downhill on the last day of the trek, one hour from the campsite, you will get to learn more about the ancient excavating techniques of the Incas. After seeing some of the ruins strewn throughout the Sacred Valley, and understanding that these structures are a mark of engineering ingenuity (built with no mortar or metal tools), you’ll walk away even more impressed having seen part of an ancient quarry and discovering some of the techniques used to excavate and haul the blocks to build the town of Ollantaytambo.
You get a real sense of how the Inca civilisation once thrived in this ancient town, home to two impressive ruins, sitting in the Sacred Valley. This is where the Quarry Trail ends, walking up the cobblestone lane that takes you into the main square where you can rest your wobbly legs and relish in the moment of completing the journey.
There’s more than one hiking option in Peru’s Sacred Valley. We offer Inca Trail and Quarry Trail itineraries.