Machu Picchu, Peru
Despite being one of the world’s most famous archaeological wonders, Machu Picchu still holds many secrets and is a must-see on a trip to Peru.
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Machu Picchu is an enigma, some might say a paradox, because it is known as both the best-known and least known of the Inca sites. Since its discovery on July 24, 1911 by the North American Hiram Bingham, Machu Picchu is considered one of the world’s greatest architectural and archaeological monuments due to its extraordinary grandeur and harmonious structure. Machu Picchu is undoubtedly one of the most interesting places in Peru.
At 2,400 meters above sea level, in the province of Urubamba, in the department of Cusco, Machu Picchu surprises us as its stone structures spread over a narrow and uneven ridge bordering the 400-meter cliff side of the Urubamba River Canyon. .
Why and how was Machu Picchu built?
Machu Picchu is a fortress shrouded in mystery, and to this day archaeologists have not definitively revealed the purpose of this stone city. The site covers an area of about one square mile and stands in a region that the Incas considered magical because of the meeting of the Andes with the mighty Amazon River. When the site was excavated, 135 bodies were discovered, 109 of which were women, leading some to believe that Machu Picchu may have been a monastery where acllas (young girls) were trained to serve the Incas and Willac Uno (High Priestess). Others said it may have been a prelude to further expansions planned by the Incas. Perhaps the mystery will never be fully revealed.
The amazing perfection and beauty of Machu Picchu’s walls, built stone by stone without the use of any cement or glue, has given rise to many theories about how the city was built. A bird named Kak’agllu is said to have known the formula for softening rock, but at its command, it may have torn out the tongue of the ancient Inca gods. Others say that there was a magical plant that could melt and compress stones. Nevertheless, mysteries and myths aside, the apparent wisdom and skill of the city’s ancient builders—evidenced by Machu Picchu’s numerous plazas, aqueducts, watchtowers, observatories, and sundial—is abundantly clear.
Many people may be drawn to Peru by Machu Picchu, but by many of our guests, it is considered just one of many ruins featured on the “highlight reel” of their travels. See reviews to read more
How to get to Machu Picchu – One-day or multi-day routes
You can take a day trip to Peru from Cuco or Lima and hike up to this fortress high in the clouds in the Andes, or you can take some time to acclimatize and hike some of the trails that lead to Machu Picchu. about 4-5 days to complete. Many people start their trip to Peru with the intention of visiting Machu Picchu, but don’t realize how much more there is to see and do in and around Machu Picchu.
After all, if you’re heading to Peru to experience the South American trip of a lifetime, why not learn about all the activities there and other ruins to discover.
Popular activities on our Peru trips (including Machu Picchu):
- Hiking the Lares or the Classic Inca Trail
- Exploring Machu Picchu – Facts about Machu Picchu
- Walking in the Amazon jungle
- Kayaking on Lake Titicaca
- Stay with a local family on Amantani Island
- Walk to Sacsayhuaman Castle
- Hiking and biking in the Sacred Valley of the Incas
- Exploration of Cuzco
- Cycling through Andean villages and the La Raya pass
- Excursion to Amantani and Taquile Islands
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You may be surprised by the number of activities you can do in Peru, in fact it is a surprise to many people that it is possible to enjoy these “non-Machu Picchu highlights”. Our philosophy is a little different from many tour companies, we believe that if you are going to travel to a new country to experience a whole new culture, why not experience as many perspectives, local cultures and ruins as possible. there is
Obviously, the most popular trail chosen by visitors who want to visit Machu Picchu is the Inca Trail. Some people prefer the Lares trail because it offers a more immersive experience in rural Peruvian culture. If you want to experience some of the traditions and village life enjoyed by the early Incas, you can stay with their descendants in one of the many villages along the Lares Trail.
If you want to walk the traditional route, climb a hidden peak below some of what the Inca Trail has to offer.
Departure to Machu Picchu on the ancient Inca trail
The Inca Trail between the Sacred Valley of the Urubamba River and the mysterious abandoned citadel of Machu Picchu is one of the world’s classic treks. Climbing through a river valley and crossing rugged mountain passes over 13,000 feet high, the trail winds through the Andes, passing numerous significant Inca ruins en route before descending through the Sun Gate to the silent stone city of Machu Picchu. Walking the Inca Trail is an exhilarating experience and a great privilege. You need a permit from the Peruvian government to set foot on it, and there are strict limits on the number of permits issued each year.
But the Inca Trail is more than just a great hike. This is a small part of the incredible network of such trails that cross high mountain ranges, dark deserts and raging Andean rivers that connected the Inca Empire. At its greatest extent, Tahuantinsuyo (or the Four Corners, as the empire was known) stretched from present-day southern Colombia in the north to central Chile in the south, covering a distance of about 5,500 km (3,400 mi). In order to control such a vast area, the emperor or Inca created a remarkable system of communication consisting of about 18,600 miles of trails, paved for a large part of its length, passing through tunnels where necessary, and using straw suspension bridges. ropes for crossing rivers in the wet season.
The roads served to move the conquering Inca armies and were generally wide enough for a minimum of two warriors to travel side by side. A system of runners stationed at rest houses, known as tambos, sent messages along the roads like the Pony Express mail of the old American West. With the capital of his empire in Cuzco, the Inca could hear from as far away as Quito, just as a letter passes between the two cities in today’s mail.
As remarkable as this highway system was in the days when it was built, used and maintained, the fact that many segments are still serviceable today after half a millennium of neglect is an amazing testament to its construction. Clearly, the Inca highway system ranks as one of the greatest engineering achievements of pre-industrial man.
The full Inca Trail is about 40 km long. Spread over 4 days, that’s about five hours of walking per day, although you can walk at your own pace – you don’t have to walk with your group the whole time. It’s not a difficult hike, although there are a few high passes and a steep climb on the second day, so a basic level of fitness is required.
Alternative ways to reach Machu Picchu other than the Inca Trail (link to another page, how to get to machu picchu)
Lares Trail (link)
Inca Trail (link)
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