Machu Picchu Facts
The archaeological center of Machu Picchu is the most important attraction of Peru. The lost city of the Incas is located at 120 kilometers from Cuzco, in the Urubamba Valley. Since its re-discovery back in 1911, by the American researcher and archeologist Hiram Bingham, there have been many hypotheses regarding the construction of the city. However, it is known that the Incas built the city in this almost inaccessable, high cloud forest area of the jungle to avoid unwanted entry from persons and possible attacks from their enemies. Machu Picchu was one of the most important Incas center for worship and astronomic observation. Machu Picchu has two big important areas: to the south, the agriculture area is made up of terraces, aqueducts, etc. To the north, the urban area is the city with its temples, observatories, workshops, and sacred burial plots.
There are three ways to reach Machu Picchu: by train (2 hours to Aguas Calientes), by car (6 hours from Cusco to Santa Teresa and 3 hours trek from Santa Teresa to Aguas Calientes) and through the trekking route known as the Inca Trail or alternative treks. The Inca Trail is one of the most famous and most desired treks to experience in the world. The Inca Trail Packages are 4 or 5 day long to include a day or so a Machu Picchu at the culmination of the trek.
There are also Alternative Treks to Machu Picchu such as the Salkantay Trek (5 days), The Inca Jugle Trek (4 days), Lares Trek (4 days) Choquequiaro Trek to Machu Picchu (8 days), Putucusi Mountain Trek (2 days), Cachicata Trek (4 Days). Because of the huge variety of altitudes and eco systems, every trek has it's own unique landscapes, remoteness, Inca ruins, tiny Andean villages, challenges and many great moments feeling the bliss of being in pristine natural beauty. All finish at Inti Punku (Sun Gate), above the Machu Picchu ruins or at the quaint village of Agua Calientes, at the mountain base of the ruins.
If you are camping or have accomodation in the village of Aguas Calientes, there are buses running continuously to Machu Picchu from 5.30am - 4.30pm every day. It is approximately 20 minute drive. Alternatively there is a steep hike up the mountain to the ruins, if you feel like more hiking.
The Inca Trail is one of the most spectacular routes in the world, part of the 23,000 kilometers of road that the Incas built all along the Andean mountain spine of South America. Huayna Picchu is one of two mountains within the complex of Machu Picchu. The name Huayna Picchu means "young mountain", compared to Machu Picchu "the old mountain" (within the complex). From the top of Huayna Picchu you have an extraordinary view of the Machu Picchu complex and the path that leads to the terraces on the edge of the abyss as well, of some small ruins of temples. Beyond the myths, Machu Picchu is the testimony of the secret architectural, engineering and advanced construction knowledge, that has not been duplicated in this modern world.
Thanks to it's remoteness it was never dicovered and destroyed by the Spanish Conquistadors. It has a magical almost smiling presense as it sits powerfully above a beautiful steep valley, challenging anyone who visits to wonder why, what and how this spectacular artistic expression of the Incas became what it is. This city catches the attention of all its visitors who admire its mystical magnificence. Thought to be built by Inca Royal, Patchacutec. Historically, he was the most active in bringing peoples from all over South America to become part of the Incan Empire. The construction of the massive Inca Trail was an integral part of bringing these people together as well as the intelligent, benevolent operations of a powerful leader.
You will be first arriving to Cusco from Lima or your home country, then you can take one of the three ways to ge to Aguas Calientes (train, bus or the Inca trail)
Aguas Calientes is a very nice small town, with restaurants, hotels, souvenirs stores and even hot springs, from Aguas Calientes you can get to Machu Picchu by bus (20min) or a very steep hike (about 1hour20min).
Mosf of the year Machu Picchu is hot and humid, between 12-24° degrees and some rain specially between november and march.
Thermal Hot Springs, so don't forget your bathing suit.
Museo de Sitio Manuel Chavez Ballon - A suberb multimedia displays on archeological excavations and pieces.
Botanical Gardens and Waterfalls are an hour and half easy walk from Agua Calientes, mostly besides the railroad tracks and valley.
Butterfly Farm Depending on the time of year, hundreds of butterflies hatch within the enclosure in a myriad of colors.
Some people experience altitude sickness, known as to get soroche. It is impossible to know who will experience this as there is a genetic propensity for it usually. If you live above 2,000 feet normally, you shouldn't have much of a problem.
The principal symptoms are headache, loss of appetite, sleep pattern alterations, more lucid dreaming and occasional heart palpitations. Adjustment to Cusco's altitude for about two days before starting any grand adventure in the Andes is highly recommended.
The best way to prevent the altitude sickness is with a gradual ascent, It is very important that if you are arriving to Cusco, rest the first day, eat light food, and drink some of the tasty coca tea. Chewing coca leaves is also an excellent way to adjust quicker to altitude. The Incas and the pre Inca civilization have used this plant for thousands of years. It is one of the sacred medicines of South America.