Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas, is one of the most iconic and mysterious tourist destinations in the world. Located in the Andean Mountains of Peru, this ancient citadel was built around the 15th century and served as a royal estate for the Inca emperors. The site was abandoned during the Spanish conquest and remained hidden from the world until it was rediscovered by the American explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911.
Since then, Machu Picchu has become a bucket-list destination for travelers from all over the globe, attracting millions of visitors each year. With its stunning scenery, rich history, and unique culture, Machu Picchu is truly a magical journey to the land of the Incas.
Getting to Machu Picchu
Getting to Machu Picchu can be a bit of a challenge, but it’s well worth the effort. The most common way to reach Machu Picchu is by train from Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire. The train journey takes about four hours and offers breathtaking views of the Andes Mountains and the Urubamba River.
Another popular way to get to Machu Picchu is by hiking the Inca Trail, a 4-day trek through the mountains that ends at the ancient citadel. The Inca Trail is a challenging but rewarding experience, offering stunning views of the Andes and the opportunity to visit other Inca ruins along the way.
If you’re short on time or not up for the challenge of the Inca Trail, there are other trekking options available, such as the Salkantay Trek or the Lares Trek. These treks are less crowded than the Inca Trail and offer a more off-the-beaten-path experience.
How Much Does It Cost to Hike to Machu Picchu?
The cost of hiking to Machu Picchu varies depending on the route you choose and the level of comfort you prefer. The Inca Trail is the most expensive option, with prices ranging from $500 to $1000 USD per person. This price includes a guide, porters, food, camping gear, and entrance to Machu Picchu.
If you choose to trek the Salkantay or Lares routes, the cost is generally lower, ranging from $300 to $500 USD per person. These treks also include a guide, porters, food, and camping gear, but do not include entrance to Machu Picchu.
If you prefer a more luxurious experience, there are several tour operators that offer guided treks with comfortable accommodations, such as glamping tents and gourmet meals. These tours can cost upwards of $3000 USD per person, but offer a unique and unforgettable experience.
Regardless of which trek you choose, it’s important to book in advance, as permits are limited and sell out quickly during peak season (June to August).
Exploring Machu Picchu
Once you’ve arrived at Machu Picchu, there’s plenty to explore. The ancient citadel is divided into two main areas: the agricultural sector and the urban sector. The agricultural sector consists of terraces and fields used for farming, while the urban sector includes temples, palaces, and residential areas.
One of the most iconic features of Machu Picchu is the Intihuatana, a stone structure that served as a solar clock and calendar for the Incas. Visitors can also explore the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Three Windows, and the Royal Tomb, among other fascinating structures.
To make the most of your visit to Machu Picchu, it’s recommended to hire a guide, who can provide in-depth knowledge about the history and significance of the site. Guides can be hired at the entrance of Machu Picchu or through a tour operator. It’s also important to note that there are strict rules in place to preserve the site, such as no climbing on the structures or removing any artifacts.
When to Visit Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is open year-round, but the best time to visit is during the dry season, which runs from May to September. During this time, there is less chance of rain and the weather is generally mild and pleasant.
However, the dry season is also the peak tourist season, meaning that the site can be crowded and permits for the Inca Trail can sell out quickly. If you’re looking for a quieter experience, consider visiting during the shoulder season (April or October) or the rainy season (November to March).
It’s important to note that Machu Picchu is closed for maintenance every February, so plan accordingly.
Other Attractions in the Area
While Machu Picchu is the main attraction in the area, there are plenty of other fascinating sites to explore in the Sacred Valley. Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, is a vibrant city with a rich history and culture. Visitors can explore the impressive Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman and Qorikancha, or wander the colorful streets of the San Blas neighborhood.
The Sacred Valley is also home to several other impressive Inca sites, such as Ollantaytambo and Pisac. These sites offer a glimpse into the ancient Inca civilization and are well worth a visit.
Machu Picchu is a truly magical destination that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. Whether you choose to hike the Inca Trail or take the train, exploring this ancient citadel is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
While the cost of hiking to Machu Picchu can vary depending on the route and level of comfort, there are options available for every budget. And once you’ve arrived, there’s plenty to explore, from the impressive Inca architecture to the stunning mountain scenery.
So pack your bags, book your tickets, and get ready for a journey to the land of the Incas. Machu Picchu awaits!