Sacred Apukuna of Peru

In the Inca mythology the term Apu was, and still is, referred to a mountain-entity that has a powerful spirit and is alive. Body and energy field of the mountain together form a ‘Wasi‘, which in the Quechua language means “home” or “temple”.

Inca mythology sees three main realms of existence: Hanan Pacha (the Upperworld), Kay Pacha (the Middleworld), and Uku Pacha (the Underworld, or Innerworld). Apukuna (the plural of apu), rising up from the human world toward Hanan Pacha were considered a bridge between the upper realm and human world, a connection with their most powerful gods in the heavens.

The Apu mountain spirits also served as protectors, watching over their surrounding territories and protecting nearby Inca inhabitants as well as their livestock and crops. They did not fade away following the demise of the Inca Empire. The notion of the Apu spirits remains common in the highlands, where some Peruvians still make offerings to the mountain gods, for instance during the Despacho or Huachuma ceremonies.

There are many sacred Apukuna in Peru. The most important ones sleep silently for aeons in the Cusco region, all considered sacred. The 12 main are: Ausangate, Salkantay, Mama Simona, Pillku Urqu, Manuel Pinta, Wanakawri, Pachatusan, Pikchu, Saksaywaman, Viraqochan, Pukin, and Sinqa. Here are a few of my pictures of those spectacular places of power taken during my last stay in Peru, in no particular order or magnitute. Just enjoying going through my Peruvian folders.

The Sacred Valley

A view on the Sacred Valley on a way to Maras Moray.


Magical Vinicunca or Winikunka, also called Montaña de Siete Colores, Montaña de Colores or Rainbow Mountain, is a mountain in Peru with an altitude of 5,200 meters above sea level. It is located on the road to the Ausangate mountain, another powerful “Apu” in the Inca pantheon of sacred mountains.


A wild and rocky road to Salkantay, the highest peak in the Vilcabamba mountain range, part of the Peruvian Andes. The name is often translated as “Savage Mountain”. 

Salkantay (6,271 m (20,574 ft)) or Sallqantay (in Quechua) is the highest peak in the Vilcabamba mountain range, part of the Peruvian Andes.


Soraypampa crystal clear glacier lake. Yup, freezing cold, but oh dear lords such a joy to experience (and survive) that swim! 

Machu Picchu

Could this list even exist without the glorious Machu Picchu, a 15th-century Inca citadel, located in the Eastern Cordillera of southern Peru, on a mountain ridge 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level. The Apu-city floating silently in the clouds for eons.


Ollantaytambo (Quechua: Ullantaytampu) is a town and an Inca archaeological site The town of Ollantaytambo is located along the Patakancha River, close to the point where it joins the Willkanuta River. The main settlement is located on the left margin of the Patakancha with a smaller compound called ‘Araqhama on the right margin. The main Inca ceremonial center is located beyond ‘Araqhama on a hill called Cerro Bandolista. Several Inca structures are in the surrounding areas.


Colca Canyon is a canyon of the Colca River in southern Peru, located about 160 kilometres northwest of Arequipa. With a depth of 3,270 metres (10,730 ft) it is second deepest canyon in the world and deeper than the Grand Canyon in USA.

The Toro Muerto

The Toro Muerto valley is an unusual place. Petroglifos de Toro Muerto (Coordinates: 16°13’20”S 72°30’28”W) is certainly one of the most amazing places I have ever discovered. Founded by the Wari (Huari) culture (500-900 AC) and located in the high Peruvian desert, part of the Colca Valley, Toro Muerto (Eng. Dead Bull) is a collection of ancient petroglyphs scattered over the area of over 5 km2 and consisted of thousands of volcanic boulders from two relatively close volcanoes, the Chachani and Coropuna, with thousands of carvings portraying people, various animals, birds, lizards and mysterious patterns. The site blew my mind to pieces. I found this isolated spot exceptional for at least few reasons. You can read more about this mind-blowing site in this article on my blog.


Pisac Mountain and archaeological site. Pisac is perhaps best known for its Incan ruins, known as Inca Písac, which lie atop a hill at the entrance to the valley.

Of course, this is only a small fraction of a vast and endless mountain range in the Andes and can be considered a teaser for those who plan to pay this spectacular landscape a visit. Those of you who will, certainly won’t be disappointed.

2 thoughts on “Sacred Apukuna of Peru

  1. These photos are gorgeous! I wish we had had time to go to the mountains on our honeymoon. We did a jungle river cruise on the Amazon in Peru. All I want now is to go back and see the mountains. 🙂


    1. Thank you, brother, for kind words, much appreciated 🙂 Yes, Peru is vast, spectacular and extremely beautiful. I have lived in the Amazon forest for months and it was a completely different experience, but the mountains.. oh my dear universe, where to even begin. I would totally recommend you to revisit the place and focus on the mountain part(s) of the Inca kingdom. Hugs ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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