Inca Trail Names

Place names on the Inca Trail


Most of the names of places on the Inca Trail were invented by Hiram Bingham, and are unlikely to correspond to the original names used by the Incas. They also reflect Bingham’s assumptions about the function or significance of the different locations, which may not always have been accurate. For instance, a recent paper by a Peruvian historian and an American archaeologist argues that the original name of Machu Picchu was Huayna Picchu, or simply Picchu. The name Machu Picchu was probably another of Bingham’s inventions.

For these translations, I am indebted to Martina Faller and Iñes Callalli Villafuerte, who were kind enough to provide me with a list of translations in both English and Spanish.


Spanish: Puente Alegre
English: Bridge of Happiness
cusi = happy; chaca = bridge
Spanish: (lugar donde) Se Limpia el Oro con el Viento
English: Gold-sifting Place
q'ori = gold; huayra = wind; -chi = causative; -na = nominalizer
Spanish: Pueblo de escalónes o pueblo alto
English: Step(ped) town or High town
pata = step or stair, or high; llacta = village or town
Spanish: Lugar de Pasto
English: Place of Good Pasture
huaylla = good pasture; bamba = place
Spanish: (lugar donde) Se Hace Ceremoniales
English: Place of Offerings
(etymology uncertain) [1]
Spanish: Mujer Muerta
English: Dead Woman
huarmi = woman; huanusca = dead
Spanish: Rio Escondido
English: Hidden River
mayo = river; pacay = to hide
Spanish: Ruinas Amontonadas
English: Pile of Ruins
runku = piled; racay = derelict house [2]
Spanish: Poblado Pendiente
English: Village (in a) Steep Place
sayac = steep, vertical; marca = village
Spanish: Pueblo Alto en las Nubes
English: Town High in the Clouds
phuyu = cloud; pata = high part; marca = village [3]
Huinay Huayna
Spanish: Joven Para Siempre
English: Forever Young
huinay = forever; huayna = young
Spanish: Puerta del Sol
English: Gateway of the Sun
inti = sun; punku = gate, door [4]
Machu Picchu
Spanish: Cima Vieja
English: Old Peak
machu = old; picchu = peak [5]
Huayna Picchu
Spanish: Cima Joven
English: Young Peak
huayna = young; picchu = peak