The third day was unquestionably the longest, with about 8 hours of hiking.  It was also the most beautiful.  The terrain was not very difficult and the views were completely stunning.  Jungle, mountains, rivers, and archaeological sites – hurrah!

While we passed almost a dozen small sites, we saw 2 archaeological sites that were literally breathtaking.  Sayaqmarka was the first one of the day.  It had been a large fortress built in the pre-Inca time, but expanded during the Inca period.  It featured a large temple to the sun, as well as residences for priests and townspeople.

Sayaqmarka, unlike many other sites, it was not at all agricultural, although it may have been used to store produce from nearby farms, like this one, as seen from Sayaqmarka:

Around hour 7 of hiking, 0ur guide Edwin gave us the option to either take the long way or the short way to the final campsite.  While the short way would save 30 minutes, he suggested that the long way actually had easier terrain, and a most stunning site.  It was not raining, and so we opted to take the long way, and I am SO glad we did. This final site provided me with perhaps the best memories of the entire trip.

We arrived at Winay Wayna through the Cloud Forest.  It had stunning views of the Urubamba Valley and snow capped peaks beyond.  It was covered in mist, and completely silent.  We were the only ones there.  It. Was. Magical.  Our guide told us this site was uncovered in 2004, and even today it is not completely excavated – the terraces go on for miles, covered by the jungle.  It was too exciting to be one of the few people to set eyes on this site.

I so wish we could have gotten more photos, but at this point our camera was running out of space, and you can’t NOT have pictures of Machu Picchu!!!