If you’re looking for a destination that offers a mix of adventure, history, and natural beauty, look no further than Machu Picchu. This ancient Inca site, located in Peru, is one of the world’s most popular travel destinations, attracting millions of visitors from all over the world each year. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what makes Machu Picchu so special and provide you with everything you need to know to plan your own journey to this incredible destination.
The History of Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is an ancient Inca citadel located in the Andes Mountains of Peru. It was built during the 15th century and was likely used as a royal estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti. The site consists of more than 200 structures, including temples, terraces, and dwellings, all built using traditional Inca construction techniques and featuring exquisite stonework.
After the arrival of the Spanish in Peru in the 16th century, Machu Picchu was abandoned and left in a state of disrepair. The site remained largely unknown to the outside world until 1911 when it was rediscovered by the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham. Bingham’s discovery sparked a renewed interest in the history and culture of the Inca, and Machu Picchu quickly became one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world.
Today, Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors each year. Despite its popularity, the site remains a testament to the incredible achievements of the Inca civilization and their remarkable architectural and engineering skills.
Visiting Machu Picchu: Hiking, by train, by bus?
There are different ways to visit Machu Picchu, but the most popular option is to take the Inca Trail. This four-day trek takes you through some of the most stunning scenery in the Andes Mountains and ends with a sunrise view of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate. If you’re not up for a multi-day hike, there are also options to take a train from the nearby city of Cusco to the town of Machu Picchu “Aguas Calientes”, where you can catch a bus to the site.
To arrive at Machu Picchu, one must first travel to the city of Cusco in Peru. From there, you have a few different options to reach the ancient Inca site:
- By Train: The most popular way to reach Machu Picchu is by train. The Peru Rail and Inca Rail companies offer several daily trains that run from Cusco to the town of Aguas Calientes, which is the closest town to Machu Picchu. The journey takes about 3-4 hours each way, depending on the train you choose.
- Hiking: There are also several hiking trails that lead to Machu Picchu, the most famous of which is the Inca Trail. This four-day trek takes you through beautiful Andean scenery and Incan ruins before arriving at Machu Picchu on the final day. Other hiking trails include the Salkantay Trek and the Lares Trek.
- Bus and Hike: For a cheaper option, you can take a bus from Cusco to the town of Santa Maria, then hike or take a taxi to the town of Santa Teresa. From there, you can take a train or hike to Aguas Calientes and then finally take a bus or hike up to Machu Picchu.
Regardless of how you choose to get there, it’s important to plan ahead and book your tickets in advance, as Machu Picchu has a limited capacity and can sell out quickly, especially during peak tourist season. Check the availability and tickets here.
Exploring Machu Picchu: The best way to enjoy “The lost city of the Incas”.
Machu Picchu, the “lost city of the Incas,” is an incredible place to visit and explore. To make the most of your visit, here are some tips for enjoying your time at this iconic site:
- Get there early: Machu Picchu can get very crowded, especially during peak tourist season. Getting there early in the morning can help you beat the crowds and enjoy the site in a quieter and more peaceful setting.
- Hire a guide: Hiring a guide can enhance your experience at Machu Picchu by providing you with a deeper understanding of the history and significance of the site. Guides can also take you to off-the-beaten-path areas and provide insights that you might not get on your own. Hire a guide now!
- Take your time: Machu Picchu is a massive site with a lot to see and explore. Take your time to wander and explore the different areas, soak in the views, and appreciate the history and culture of this incredible place. Download maps of the 5 circuits of Machu Picchu
- Be prepared for the altitude: Machu Picchu is located at an altitude of over 8,000 feet, which could cause altitude sickness for some people. Be sure to acclimate yourself to the altitude by spending a few days in Cusco before your visit, drinking plenty of water, and taking it easy if you feel short of breath or dizzy. See the different elevations at the site
- Respect the site: Machu Picchu is a sacred site to the Peruvian people, and it’s important to respect its history and culture. Don’t climb on the ruins, touch the stonework, or leave trash behind. Follow the rules and regulations of the site to ensure that it remains preserved for future generations to enjoy.
- Bring the right gear: Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and dress in layers, as the weather can change quickly at the site. You’ll also want to bring sunscreen, a hat, rain jacket, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
- Explore off-the-beaten-path areas: While the main areas of Machu Picchu are certainly worth seeing, there are also some lesser-known areas that are just as fascinating. For example, the Inca Bridge and the Sun Gate offer stunning views of the site and the surrounding mountains.
- Stay overnight in Aguas Calientes: If your schedule allows, consider staying overnight in Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. This will allow you to explore the site in the morning before the crowds arrive and to experience the town’s laid-back vibe and hot springs. See also Top Restaurants in “Aguas Calientes Town”
- Visit during shoulder season: While Machu Picchu is popular year-round, visiting during shoulder season (April-May or September-October) can offer better weather, fewer crowds, and lower prices.
- Take in the views: Finally, don’t forget to take in the stunning views of the site and the surrounding mountains. Machu Picchu is one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring places on earth, and simply standing and soaking in the beauty of the place is an experience you’ll never forget.
Planning Your Trip to Machu Picchu: Tips for not ruining a special moment!
Planning a trip to Machu Picchu can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but it can also be overwhelming and stressful. To ensure that you don’t ruin this special moment, here are some tips for planning your trip:
First: you’ll need to book your trip well in advance, as the site only allows a limited number of visitors per day.
Second: you’ll need to be in good physical shape if you plan to hike the Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek.
Third: Hire a reputable tour operator, If you’re not comfortable planning your own itinerary, consider hiring a reputable tour operator to handle the details. This can take the stress out of planning and ensure that everything goes smoothly.
Fourth: Take care of your health, Machu Picchu is a physically demanding site, and it’s important to take care of your health while visiting. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, eat nutritious meals, and get enough rest to avoid exhaustion.
Finally: Be respectful of the site, Machu Picchu is a sacred site to the Peruvian people, and it’s important to respect its history and culture. Follow the rules and regulations of the site, and don’t climb on the ruins or touch the stonework.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your trip to Machu Picchu is a special and memorable experience that you’ll treasure for years to come.
Machu Picchu is an incredible destination that offers a unique mix of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you choose to hike the Inca Trail or take a train to the site, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience. So start planning your journey today and discover the heart of the Inca Empire!