Series 4: Seldom Visited Sites Naupa Iglesia


Lyle Walker

Climb up the terraces in the Sacred Valley to reach this ancient and majestical Incan church.

Naupa Iglesia (Choqueqilla) is another site within the Sacred Valley, and also a fairly easy site to get to, yet not many people visit it. The closest main town is Ollantaytambo which is approximately 8 km to the Northwest and there are several ways to reach Naupa Iglesia, but no matter which way you choose, you will have to do a bit of light climbing up the terraces to reach the structures.

To get to the base of the terraces you can take a taxi from Ollantaytambo or Urubamba, or if you are already touring the Sacred Valley by car, ask the driver to make a stop here. If you prefer the more budget friendly buses, then on the route between Urubamba and Ollantaytambo, you would just have to tell the driver you want off at the Pachar, the stop is right next to the 'œCerveceria del Valle Segrado'. From here you would cross the bridge, turn right heading towards the train station and then turn left before crossing the next bridge and follow the road to the first railroad crossing. Once at the first railroad crossing you have 2 options, continue following the road to the second crossing, or follow the railroad tracks.

I have talked to a few people that have walked along the tracks and they have indicated that there is a trail and plenty of room in the event a train passes, but I have not done this myself, so I can not personally say. Once at the second railroad crossing, you must walk along the tracks until you reach the bottom of the terraces, *once there the way up to the cave on top is easily

(Photo: Lyle Walker)

Like so many Inca sites there are terraces at this location, and to get to the interesting structures one must first conquer the terraces by climbing to the top. As you ascend you will pass a large stone that has had a small structure built at its base, this is a good opportunity to take a breather before finishing your assent to the top. Once at the top you will be greeted by a fairly large cave and some of the first things you are likely to notice are the wall with niches on the left side, and the stone wall on the right side that has been cut and shaped to form another niche or as some would say, a door way.

(Photo: Lyle Walker)

There is also a large stone sitting in the center of the cave opening and once you continue up into the cave, you will notice that this stone has also been carved. There are three niches on this stone, with the center niche having a 3 steeped Chakana (Inka Cross) type of design on it and two protrusions on either side. There are a wide variety of theories as to what purpose this site served, and aside from the fact that does appear to have been a ceremonial site, I don’t think anyone really can say, but I do find it interesting, and normally empty.

Up next will be a location to the West of Cusco where you can see the largest continuous terraces in the Cusco Region, if not all of Peru.

Lyle Walker was born in California, served in the Marines and has spent much of his career working as an industrial engineer. In 2006 he met and married his Peruvian wife, Lily, and in 2012 they moved to the Cusco region to open and run GringoWasi bed and breakfast , where they not only host guests but also help them with their planning. Lyle can be contacted by e-mail at



Ana Gamero