Inca Trail Day 3 Part 6: The Hardest Part Yet – “The Gringo Killer” Descent to Intipata

Often called “The Gringo Killer” this part of the entire 4 day hike was the bit I found the hardest. Probably more a fatigue thing than the actual tough terrain, as it was mostly downhill and in spirals. But we had all been awake since 5 am, and it was now after 4pm. 12 hours of hiking and there was still a couple of hours to go.

The last glances back up at Phuyu Pata Marka, before it became just another memory…

Heading down “The Gringo Killer”. raincoat on, 10 kilogram bag and shorts. The steps were uneven which made the walk down slow and harder than expected as you had to watch your steps, easy to slip, fall or get injured as many have done especially in heavy rain.


The views were amazing all the way down, and we knew we would reach a crossroads at some point, which we were told about at Phuyu Pata Marka that we would reach and fork and at that stage we had 2 choices. 


So right enough (pictured above) he path came to a fork at one point with 2 choices, with one option being only a 30 minute hike from our base for the night at Winay Wayna, but missing out on Inca Ruins. The other option would take an extra hour or so and would see us visit more Inca Ruins at Intipata. It was a no brainer! In these situations in life, I always choose the option with more fun. And so it was the extra Inca Ruins, longer hike which ultimately meant an extension of the third day’s hiking, but I thought “will I ever be here again?”


So then it got tough and I started to slow down, more water stops than usual and Dave, Cheryl and I stuck together. 


Guadeloupe from Argentina found it tougher, having a sprained ankle and needing her boyfriend to help her get bandaged up, and continue the hike.


I kept saying to Dave where the hell are these Inca Ruins, and the walk seemed to last forever. 

But the views got better and better and the mountains and trees formed weird shadows in various shapes of green. You could spend hours just staring down into the valleys. 

We got to a mysterious “gate” at one point and I wondered what it might have been there for, and I momentarily started singing the Ocean Colour Scene song “Traveller’s Tune”, which contains the lines : “where are you now? staring at your favourite box, the one with the traveller’s cross on the road past the gate.” Unlikely that the 90s Britpop band ever made it here, but still…

There were yet more Inca Ruins to be seen, they seemed to be scattered in no order all the way down.

This was a steep descent – harder than it looks and the Intipata ruins were in sights.

We saw these ruins long before we got to them.

As we turned corners and got to clearings we all searched the area in sight, into the distance to see if Machu Picchu lurked anywhere, all in vain.

A spooky tree.

The wild forest to the left of us, the entire way down, all the views into the mountains and valleys were to the right.

Things began to clear slowly. It was all amazing, like this long day of hiking was going to be worth it, when the mist finally cleared we saw…

The Urubamba River, the same one we had crossed on Day 1 at the start of the trail!

Enjoying the view.

And again, just before we reached another Inca Site.

A few minutes later we had arrived at Intipata. The Gringo Killer had been now, now time to relax, at 5pm before sunset in the middle of nowhere. The worst of the Inca Trail was over…


From – Phuyu Pata Marka


To – Intipata


Known As – The Gringo Killer


Terrain – Almost all downhill, steep steps, narrow ravines and rocky terrain


Weather – Cold, damp, misty but clearing with hot and sunny spells


Distance Travelled – Around 4 kilometres


Total Distance on Inca Trail – Around 40 kilometres


Key Song:


OCEAN COLOUR SCENE – TRAVELLER’S TUNE:

ON THE GRINGO KILLER FROM PHUYU PATA MARKA TO INTIPATA:



LOOKING DOWN FROM INTIPATA:

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