Wakrapukara is an Incan fortress perched upon a stone pillar, standing in the middle of a deep canyon near the village of Huayque in Acomayo province in Cusco. And it takes a long time to hike, or in our case, to ride there on horseback. WARNING, this is for expert riders, as it’s a very tough trail that follows along the edge of an abyss. Well, for expert riders, and for my dad!
I’m so glad I got to share this adventure for the first time with my dad (and yes, he’s quite the hardcore adventurer, at 77 years old with a 1-year-old new hip), as well as with two of my best friends: Edward who is from the nearby village of Huayque, and Wilbert who has traveled with me on many horseback adventures.
The first part of the climb was a rocky trail, but the horses did great. There were both Peruvian Paso horses and criollo (mixed mountain horses), and all of them were amazing. It helps that all of them were used to the extreme trail. Thankfully, our saddles were also stable and comfortable. Edward, Wilbert, and I are all very experienced riders, and we’ve all been on plenty of unofficial trails.
This trail was wide and obviously an ancestral road and had been transited by horses for generations, but I still felt like a bit of a jerk for taking my novice dad all the way up there. Especially after I realized we’re going to be riding for 6 or 7 hours! I kept looking back and asking if he was ok. He was hanging onto his saddle horn tightly and looking concentrated but he always answered: “I’m fine”!
There were views above, below and all around us. Arriving at the actual site was so enigmatic, I had seen photos, but the journey was so epic and extreme that I really felt the remoteness of this “fortress” which I’m sure was actually a very sacred ritual site. The ancient constructions were impeccable and symbolic, on such a rugged piece of landscape and the canyons all around were so very deep.
All that I can say about the hike to Wakrapukara, is that you should go there any way you can. The site isn’t physically large but this is one of the places that despite the extreme route to get there, it’s so worth the trip because there you really feel the power of the ancient spirituality. It’s not just the actual construction, it’s the entire location that is astounding. And most likely when you arrive, you’ll have the entire place to yourself. We all experienced a deep connection with our horses and with the land. This is truly a journey to the edge, literally, and emotionally. We had hot sun, extreme wind, rain, hail and we even ran into a group of wild horses and some mountain goats. We saw condors and passed below monumental overhanging rocks that made me forget which was up or down. This is a journey of trust and letting go, on all levels. Luckily the next morning dad said, “I’m amazed, I’m not sore!”
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