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Machu Picchu

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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.

 

Machu Picchu Information

  • District: Machu Picchu 
  • Province: Urubamba
  • Department: Cusco 
  • Altitude: 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above the sea level 
  • Machu Picchu location (GPS Coordinates): 13.1633° S 72.5456° W 
  • Population: The district of Machu Picchu has 5.286 inhabitants according to the 2007 population and housing census.
  • Languages: Quechua and Spanish

Machu Picchu Location

The exact Machu Picchu location is in the district of Machu Picchu town, province of Urubamba, 110 km northeast of the city of Cusco.


Machu Picchu History 

Ever since Hiram Bingham came across the city, Machu Picchu history has been debated. It was likely a small city of some 200 homes and 1,000 residents, with agricultural terraces to supply the population´s needs and a strategic position that overlooked – but could not be seen from – the valley floor. 

New theories suggest that the city was a transit station for products, such as coca and hearts of palm that were grown in the lowlands and sent to Cusco. Exactly when Machu Picchu was built is not know, but one theory suggests that it was a country estate of an Inca ruler named Pachacuti, which means its Golden age was in the mid 15th century. 

Historians have discredited the romantic Machu Picchu history of the refuge of the chosen Inca women after the Spanish conquest, analysis shows a 50/50 split of male and female remains. 

The site´s belated discovery may indicate that the Inca desertes Machu Picchu before the Spanish conquest. The reason for the city´s presumed abandonment is as mysterious as its original function. Some archaeologists suggest that the wáter supply simply ran out. Some guess that disease ravaged the city. Others surmise it was the death of Pachacutec, after which his estate was no longer needed. 


Machu Picchu Facts

Machu Picchu magic and enigmatic, each time reveal more of its mysteries, but there are still many unresolved. Here we present Machu Picchu facts, which will help you understand the greatness of Machu Picchu. 

  • Declared a Cultural and Natural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, being considered as an important religious, political and administrative center of the Inca period. 
  • Maybe the most impressive of Machu Picchu facts is that the citadel was interconnected with the entire Inca Empire through the Qhapac Ñan, known route of the Inca roads. 
  • Its temperature ranges between 6.2 ° and 29.5 °, since it is located in a subtropical zone. Its rainiest months are from November to March. 
  • Its majestic architecture comprises some 140 structures throughout the citadel. 
  • The average altitude of the citadel is 2 450 m s.n.m. 
  • The mountains of Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu are ideal for panoramic photographs of the entire architectural complex. 
  • Its discovery is due to the researcher Hiram Bingham III, who was looking for the last capital of the Vilcabamba Incas. 
  • Machu Picchu was declared "Historical Sanctuary of Peru" in 1981. 

Machu Picchu Weather

Machu Picchu is located in a sub-tropical zone, nestled between the Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu mountains, protected by the snowy Salkantay to the south and the Veronica to the north. This rugged geography gives Machu Picchu weather a very peculiar characteristic, fresh and warm, with sunny and rainy days, depending on the time you decide to travel; all this climatic variation makes the Sanctuary of Machu Picchu a wonderful place, with an enormous biodiversity, that inhabits one of the richest ecosystems of the planet. 

 

Best time to go to Machu Picchu

It is one of the best questions before going to Machu Picchu, and in truth only you can choose best time to go to Machu Picchu. The Machu Picchu weather and Cusco is clearly marked by 2 seasons; the rainy season and the dry season. Below we detail each of them. 

 

Rainy season (November to March)

The rainy season in Machu Picchu goes from November to March, during this time the highest amount of rainfall of the year occurs; of this time, the month that receives the most rainfall is February, that is why the Inca Trail closes during this month. But in spite of the continuous rains, the days are warmer, with temperatures that oscillate between 19 and 21 ºC, and the nights are not as cold as in dry season. However, visiting Machu Picchu in the rainy season has its advantages and the worst that can happen during this time is that it gets wet.

It is possible that there is one of "those days" in which the rain falls without stopping; however, rains usually occur in intermittent bursts that can last from a few minutes to a couple of hours and are usually in the afternoon. This abundance of rain dresses the Inca city with its most intense green, this is something spectacular in Machu Picchu. Although the rains fall in the afternoon, there may be rainfall at any time of the day, do not trust. 

 

Dry season (April to October) 

The dry season in Machu Picchu goes from May to October. The days are warm with an average temperature between 17 and 19 ° C. The nights are colder during the dry season, and it is not uncommon for temperatures to drop below zero in the months of June and July. Many consider this, the best time to go to Machu Picchu. However, it is also the time when Machu Picchu receives its greatest number of visitors.

In this season the days are sunny and the flora is presented in all its splendor, this thanks to the abundance of insects. It should be noted that this is also the coldest time, especially in the months of June and July, when temperatures drop to -2 ° C. 

The month of September is the best time to go to Machu Picchu, during this time especially, the weather is wonderful, the landscapes are greener, there are fewer people and everything is cheaper; In addition, the weather will allow you to take all the photos you want from Machu Picchu. This is one of the best times to ascend to some of the Machu Picchu mountains.


Machu Picchu Tickets

Entrance tickets for any of the routes are not sold at the access control. In the case of Huayna Picchu, you will not be able to enter this area without the corresponding ticket. The maximum capacity of entrance is of 400 visitors per day, divided in two groups of 200 people according to the indicated schedule. For the case of the mountain Machupicchu 800 visitors in two schedules of 400 people. 

To buy the electronic ticket to Machupicchu follow the following steps: 

  • Make the reservation through the web page: www.machupicchu.gob.pe, consigning the date of visit, personal data and the route to visit. (Remember that this reservation is valid for 3 hours). 
  • Once the reservation is made you can pay the amount online using a VISA credit card that has the Verifed by Visa security system or cancel the amount in one of the authorized offices. 
  • Once the payment has been made, you must go back to the website www.machupicchu.gob.pe and enter the Check In tab where you must enter the reservation code number in order to print the entrance ticket to Machupicchu according to the selected modality.

Cusco to Machu Picchu

There are two ways to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu: take the Inca trail or arrive by train. 

 

Inca Trail

For those who have about 7 days to visit the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu and are also lovers of adventure, they are recommended to do the "Inca Trail". This Cusco to Machu Picchu route is the favorite of many tourists. 

There are shorter hiking routes; one that begins at 104 km from the railway, crosses the ruins of Wiñaywayna and after a few hours you arrive at Machu Picchu. 

 

By Train

The most traditional and frequent is to go by train from Cusco to the train station of the town of Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes). 

 

Bus from Cusco to Ollantaytambo

You will need to board a vehicle from the street in Cusco to get to Ollantaytambo; if you stay a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas you can walk. Once in pouffes you will find buses, taxis and minivans whose drivers will try to convince you to board your vehicle, then you will hear them shouting to attract more passengers, they are interested in filling them as soon as possible so as not to wait for those who are already inside, once full will be launched. The price varies from 15 (US $ 5) to 30 soles (US $ 10) depending on the vehicle and how fast you want to get to Ollantaytambo, taxis are more expensive but obviously faster. 

 

Train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes

To board the train at the Ollantaytambo station, you must have previously reserved train tickets. One of the black parts of the trip is that the train to Machu Picchu is one of the most expensive in the world; however, booking them in advance will allow you to access the most economical services, which usually run out weeks before. 

 

Bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu

Once in Aguas Calientes look for a hotel. Unless you are traveling in high season (June, July, August) you will not find it difficult to find one; Prices vary from 60 soles (US $ 20) per night (the cheapest), up to USD 800 per night in 5-star hotels. After securing your hotel, get bus tickets from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu, it's the simplest and fastest way to get there. You will find the ticket office next to the train station, before the ruins bridge and just in front of the station where you can board them. 

You can also go up and down walking, although we think you should get on bus to have all your energy in the Inca city, especially if your Machu Picchu tickets include the mountains. 

 

Train To Machu Picchu

The train to Machu Picchu is an incredible experience, the route through the Sacred Valley of the Incas is considered one of the most amazing short train journeys in the world, but if you want to do it on your own, the first thing you should do is get the Machu Picchu tickets.

 

Peru Rail

You can buy the train tickets in the different points of sale of Peru Rail, as well as it can be done through the Web page www.perurail.com. Ticket sales are subject to space availability. 

Offices:

  • Airport A. Velasco Astete, arrival hall of the airport A. Velasco Astete 
  • Wanchaq Station, Cusco Av. Pachacutec S / N, (51 84) 58-1414 
  • Plaza de Armas Cusco, Portal de Carnes No. 214 - Plaza de Armas, (51 84) 581860
  • Plaza Regocijo Cusco, Plazoleta Regocijo N ° 202 
  • Ollantaytambo Station, Av. Ferrocarril S / N, (51 84) 20-4110
  • Machupicchu town station

Inca Rail

You can buy tickets for train to Machu Picchu at different points of service or through the website www.incarail.com 

Offices:

  • Plaza de Armas Office Cusco, Portal de Panes 105
  • Plaza de Armas Ollantaytambo Station, Av. Ferrocarril S / N 

Visiting Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, during the last decades, has become the most popular place in South America. One million tourists enjoy Visiting Machu Picchu every year and proudly says they visited one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Alternative treks to Machu Picchu

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.

 

Machu Picchu Hotels

  • Gringo Bill´s Hostal. Bill has hosted Machu Picchu travelers for almost a quarter century, and his was one of the first Machu Picchu hotels. This rambling house has stone walls chock full of plants just off the Plaza de Armas. The corner rooms with balconies and windows get the best ventilation and have the greatest views. Colla Raymi 104, Aguas Calientes. 084/211-046. 
  • Hatuchay Tower. One of the "high rise" Machu Picchu Hotels, a whole four floors above the river at the edge of town on the road heading to the ruins. Carpeted rooms are comfortable with modern furnishings and amenities, but the interior design is nothing out of the ordinary. Carretera a Machu Picchu. 084/211-201 
  • Inkaterra Machu Picchu. A five-minute walk from the center of town takes you to this stunning ecolodge in tis own minitropical cloud forest. The stone bungalows, none with the same design, have a rustic elegance, with exposed beams and cathedral ceilings. Activities include a one-day Inca Trail trek, bird-watching excursions, and orchid tours, as well as a twilight nature walk. Imperio de los Incas s/n, Aguas Calientes. 084/211-032 
  • Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge. Best location of all Machu Picchu hotels. This hotel at the entrance to Machu Picchu citadel puts you closest to the ruins, a position for which you pay dearly. But not only will you have the thrill of watching the sun rise over the crumbling stone walls, you´ll be the first ones through the rus´gate in the morning, and have the place to yourself after most of the tourists depart each afternoon. Machu Picchu. 084/211-094

Activities in Aguas Calientes

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.

 

Sickness Altitude

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.

 

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