By Admin | Last Updated August 28, 2019
High up in the Andes Mountain of Peru, Machu Picchu is the most important archaeological site of South America. The ancient sprawling 15th century Inca city is on a mountain ridge, 7,970 feet or 2,430 meters above the sea. It is above the Sacred Valley, 503 kilometers from Lima. It is stunning. Shrouded in mystery, mist, and lush vegetation all around, the steep escarpments are a must-see. The ancient city was forgotten for long, and was only discovered in the early 20th century.
Machu Picchu is a must-see in Peru. Together with the Amazon forest, Patagonia, and Rio de Janeiro, Machu Picchu is one of the most popular attractions in South America. Almost 10,000 tourists used to visit in a day, or close to 2 million a year.
However, recently, authorities have restricted the number of visitors to 5940 to ensure that the complex is not damaged from excessive tourism.
Machu Picchu is a symbol of the lost Incan Empire, and one of the most spectacular and famous ruins anywhere in the world. It will live up to every expectation. To this day, historians and archeologists are not sure why the Incas risked their lives to build a fortress in such a challenging and dramatic terrain. But many believe, the citadel was created as an estate for the Inca Emperor Pachacuti, and later abandoned after the Spanish conquest. Others believe it was a secret ceremonial center.
The ancient city of Machu Picchu is an UNESCO World Heritage site and Peruvian Historical sanctuary. It is ranked at #1 in many lists of famous historical sites.
|Architecture||Machu Picchu is an engineering marvel. It’s a mystery how the Incas managed to create the city carving from a single slab of stone. Stone blocks were cut so precisely that no mortar was required. The stones are fit so tightly that even a blade cannot be inserted between them. The terrain itself is very challenging. The site has withstood torrential rain and earthquake damage.|
|Mystery||Historians and archeologists are unsure why the Incas created Machu Picchu. Most believe it was for Emperor Pachacuti, but others feel the site was used for secret ceremonies. It is also a mystery why the Incas suddenly abandoned the city.|
|The Incas||Marvel at the brilliant Incas and their culture. At its height, the Inca Empire included Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, and parts of Colombia. Incas had a profound impact. To this day, it is one of the most famous empires in the world.|
|Culture||Machu Picchu and Cusco are both very rich culturally. See and learn about the Peruvian culture and Andean traditions, from the clothing they wear, to food, and lifestyles. The people speak both Spanish and Quechua.|
|Inca Trails||For those who love adventure and nature. Machu Picchu was connected to other Inca sites with the trails running for more than 18,000 miles. Many of these trails are usable to this day. There is a 2-day, 4-day, and a more extensive 5-day Inca trail for tourists, passing over hills, Peruvian highlands, and wildlife reserves. You will see spectacular views along the trail.|
|Exotic Destination||There is hardly a more exotic destination. It is in the ‘cloud forest’, where much of the day is covered in mist. Up in the hills, the terraces are steep with the buildings and temples in the side. There are tall hills all around and lush forests just below.|
Most tourists to Machu Picchu come from Lima. They take the flight from Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport to the Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport of Cuzco. The flight time is 1 hour and 15 minutes.
The town of Cuzco, once the capital of the Inca Empire, is at the base of the Andes. From here, you can trek to Machu Picchu or take a train to the small town of Aguas Calientes in a valley, which is just below Machu Picchu. It’s an ascent from here. It is best to spend a day here at least so that you can acclimatize with the high altitude.
There are 3 rail companies –
Belmond is the luxury service. The compartments are wooden. Fine wine is served. The other rails are for budget travelers.
The train journey is between 3.5 hours and 5 hours. It’s a beautiful ride along the Urubamba River.
You can also take a bus or taxi. But the road goes to Ollantaytambo from Cusco, and not Aguas Calientes. There are regular buses from 5 AM in the morning. It’s a winding road through the hills.
The ancient Inca site is located in a sub-tropical area. The rugged landscape gives it a very unique climate.
|Rainy Season||November to March. The mountains receive a lot of rainfall, often intermittently. The Inca trail is closed at this time. The days are warm and nights are cool.|
|Dry Season||April to October. It is dry most of the time. The days are a bit warm and nights can be very cold. Often, it goes down to -2 degrees. September is spring here.|
The best time to visit is between April and October. The weather will be pleasant and dry. But there will be more tourists this time. Book your ticket quickly and reach early to avoid the crowds.
It rains between November and April, with February seeing the maximum rain. The Inca trail is closed as it will be muddy. But there will be a lot of orchids in the hills that start to blossom from October or November.