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Rupac, Lima’s Machu Picchu

If you are in Lima and would like to enjoy an incredible experience outside town, then Rupac, Lima’s Machu Picchu, is the place you are looking for. The archaeological complex is impressive and includes marvelous architecture even now after so many years, with beautiful landscapes, a beautiful sunset and its famous blanket of clouds.

The archaeological site of Rupac is located in the District of Atavillo Bajo, in the Province of Huaral, at 3500 m.a.s.l. and 145 km north of the city of Lima.

How to get to Rupac?

The route is covered in two stages. The first is by car or bus, and the second is on foot. Don’t worry, we’ll give you all the information you need and some tips on trekking if you are not used to it.

Travelling by private car

  • We take the North Pan American Highway to the city of Huaral
  • We take Avenida Los Naturales, which leads towards the mountains
  • After an hour on the road, we reach a toll booth
  • Before the “Ing. Oscar Vargas Avendaño” bridge, there is a turnoff that leads to the La Florida – Pampas tourist area
  • From here, the road becomes difficult, very steep and only one-lane wide. Make sure you fill up your fuel tank before leaving Huaral, because you’ll use more fuel than you might expect during the steep climb
  • After an hour and a half, we arrive at La Florida, where we need to pay the entry fee to Rupac (PEN 10 or USD 2.50)

The route by public transport

  • We take the bus at the Bus Terminal of “Plaza Norte” Mall that will take us to the city of Huaral
  • We then take a colectivo (shared taxi service) to Las Pampas, for which the average fare tends to be PEN 25 (USD 6) per person
  • After a two-hour journey, we arrive at La Florida, where we pay the entry fee to Rupac (PEN 10 or USD 2.50)

Arrival at Las Pampas

  • Ten minutes after paying the entrance fee, whether we are in a car or bus, we arrive at the “Ghost Town” of Las Pampas.

Once in Las Pampas, we can find restaurants and shops where we can stock up on supplies before beginning the trek. The origin of the name of “Ghost Town” comes from the fact that, a long time ago, the people who lived there decided to move elsewhere, leaving the houses intact.

Nowadays, the town looks more like a tourist attraction. The people who live in La Florida climb up to the town and set up their food and tourism businesses there, since the route to Rupac goes through Las Pampas and provides a win-win situation for the townspeople and visitors alike.

Now, without further ado, we come to the walk up to Rupac. You may choose to go on your own or hire a guide, as well as hire donkeys to carry your packs to the city of fire.

Trek and camping at Rupac

The trek will be strenuous, and we always recommend that you make sure you are in good health. It’s a six-kilometer trail, which can take up to three hours, depending on your physical condition, but everything has its rewards.

The route offers extraordinary landscapes and a waterfall. On arrival at Rupac, your reward will be even greater with a beautiful sunset. Remember to rest every so often on the route to keep up the pace.

Waste no time to set up your tent in the camping area, since a surprise rain shower may complicate things.

Rupac lies above the cloud line

The whispy blanket of clouds is, possibly, one of the reasons people visit the archaeological complex at Rupac. The site rises above the cloud line, giving us the sensation of being on top of the sky.

The clouds tend to form more frequently in January and February. Nevertheless, you can visit the area any time of year and equally enjoy the other attractions.

The Rupac Archaeological Complex

The Archaeological Complex at Rupac was built by the Atavillos, one of the most important pre-Inca civilizations in the Province of Lima. It was built as a defense system, above the mountain peaks that rise over 3,500 to 3,800 m.a.s.l.

To this day, so many centuries after the site was built, the buildings remain intact, which is why it has earned the title of “Lima’s Machu Picchu.” The site features kullpis (houses) and chullpas (funeral towers) in the settlement areas. You will also easily identify storage spaces, fireplaces, courtyards and other areas well preserved after so many years.\

If you are wondering why it is called the “city of fire”, the story is that the buildings were painted a bright red that, at sunset, made the citadel appear to be on fire. There are still traces of the paint that would prove the origin of the name.

Lastly, take note of these tips to help you on your journey: leave Lima early to get to Huaral, take warm clothing and mountaineering tents and sleeping bags, have tablets for altitude sickness or soroche, take an umbrella, and enough water for the full route.

And if you are in Cusco, and you like adventure and the possibility of visiting the real Machu Picchu, go for it and travel aboard our PeruRail Expedition train. Book your tickets here!”

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