The Rupac citadel— commonly referred to as the City of Fire (ciudad de fuego) or Lima’s Machu Picchu— gathers 51 stone edifices constructed on top of a steep mountain. The stone city (even the roofs are made out of stone) belonged to Los Atavillos, a pre-Inca culture that colonized the top of the mountains. Having overcome the passing of hundreds of years—not to mention visits from furtive tourists and numerous earthquakes and tremors—, the structures are an impressive show of conservation at 3400 masl.
The hike up is an intense 3-hour journey though the outskirts of a small community (La Florida), a ghost town, abundant flora and even a small waterfall. A blanket of clouds typically awaits hikers, surrounding the marvelous hilltop city. With structures reaching 10 meters high, the complex contains warehouses, tombs and even a chimney. Not to mention breathtaking views.
But getting there is half the fun.
You’ll need a couple of days to really admire Rupac, a name which literally means “the place in flames” in the indigenous Quechua language. The name likely derives from the sunrise of a burning red that can be seen at certain times of the year. Thankfully, to get to Rupac from Lima takes just a few hours.
From Lima, you’ll travel to Huaral (an hour and a half by bus). Once there you can take one of the many taxis or combis (shared vans) that go to the town of La Florida, located at about 2500 masl. Stock up on any last-minute provisions in La Florida, such as water and crackers—but don’t expect to find a wide array of items from the local bodega. Many hikers will fuel up with a breakfast or early lunch at a local menú before embarking on the trek.
An hour and a half into the walk is Pampas, a ghost town long ago deserted. The only sounds come from the surrounding nature, with condors making solemn appearances.
This adventure is for travelers who like long, strenuous hikes and need nothing more than what fits inside their backpack.
It’s best to travel light, as this is a quick trip full of movement.
Be sure to bring: a tent, sleeping bag, camp stove, a pot to boil water, food (i.e. oatmeal, instant soups), snacks (fruit, crackers, energy bars), water, sunscreen, hat, flashlight, first-aid kit and good walking/hiking shoes.
Keep in mind that La Florida is the last place to purchase potable water. Pace your climb as the elevation is quite high.
Cover photo and all interior photos by Mayimbú (via Wikimedia Commons)
This article has been updated from its original version published in June 2011.
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