Are you looking for a family vacation that combines adventure, history, and stunning views? Look no further than Machu Picchu, Peru’s most iconic landmark.
Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca citadel situated on a mountain ridge 2,430 meters above sea level. It is one of the most famous and visited archaeological sites in the world and attracts millions of visitors each year. Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.
Visiting Machu Picchu is a unique experience that combines history, culture, and nature. You can explore the ancient ruins and learn about the Inca civilization, hike the surrounding mountains, and enjoy breathtaking views of the Andes Mountains.
Getting to Machu Picchu
The easiest way to get to Machu Picchu is to take a train from Cusco or the nearby town of Ollantaytambo. There are several trains to choose from, including luxury options that offer gourmet food and panoramic views. The train ride takes about three hours and offers stunning views of the Andes Mountains.
Another option is to hike the Inca Trail, a 4-day trek that starts in the Sacred Valley and ends at Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail is a challenging hike that requires a good level of fitness, but it is also one of the most rewarding experiences in Peru. You will pass through remote Andean villages, stunning mountain landscapes, and several Inca ruins before reaching Machu Picchu.
Backpack Size Limit
If you’re planning on hiking the Inca Trail, it’s important to know that there is a backpack size limit of 25 liters. This is to help preserve the fragile environment and prevent damage to the trail. You will need to pack light and bring only the essentials.
Here are some tips for packing for the Inca Trail:
- Bring a warm sleeping bag: The nights can get very cold, so make sure to bring a sleeping bag rated for at least -10°C.
- Pack comfortable hiking shoes: Make sure to break in your shoes before the trek and bring extra socks to prevent blisters.
- Bring a waterproof jacket: The weather in the Andes is unpredictable, so make sure to bring a waterproof jacket and pants.
- Pack insect repellent: The Inca Trail passes through several different ecosystems, so make sure to bring insect repellent to protect yourself from mosquitoes and other bugs.
- Bring a small daypack: You will need to carry your own water, snacks, and personal items during the hike, so bring a small daypack to keep them in.
Exploring Machu Picchu
Once you arrive at Machu Picchu, there are several different ways to explore the ancient ruins. You can hire a guide to take you on a tour of the main sites, or you can explore on your own. Here are some of the highlights of Machu Picchu:
- The Temple of the Sun: This is one of the most impressive structures in Machu Picchu, with a large central courtyard and several impressive stone walls.
- The Intihuatana Stone: This is a large stone structure that was used by the Inca to measure the solstices and equinoxes.
- The Temple of the Three Windows: This is a small temple with three windows that offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
- The Inca Bridge: This is a narrow bridge that was used by the Inca to cross a deep ravine. It is not for the faint of heart!
Hiking the Surrounding Mountains
One of the best ways to experience Machu Picchu is to hike the surrounding mountains. There are several different trails to choose from, ranging from easy to challenging. Here are some of the most popular hikes:
- Huayna Picchu: This is a steep and challenging hike that offers stunning views of Machu Picchu from above. It takes about 2-3 hours round trip and is limited to 400 visitors per day.
- Machu Picchu Mountain: This is a longer and less crowded hike that offers equally stunning views of Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains. It takes about 4-5 hours round trip and is limited to 800 visitors per day.
- Sun Gate: This is a relatively easy hike that takes you to the entrance of Machu Picchu. It takes about 2-3 hours round trip and offers stunning views of the ruins from above.
No matter which hike you choose, make sure to bring plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen. The Andean sun can be very strong, even on cloudy days.
Machu Picchu is an incredible destination that combines history, culture, and nature. Whether you choose to hike the Inca Trail or take the train, exploring the ancient ruins and surrounding mountains is an experience that your family will never forget. Just remember to pack light and bring plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen. And if you’re planning on hiking the Inca Trail, don’t forget about the backpack size limit of 25 liters. Happy travels!