The ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu has a notoriety that very few other ancient archaeological attractions can conquer with… Think about it: which ancient site is so beautiful? Perhaps none…
Machu Picchu is unique. Situated on the flattened top of a green mountain, at a height of over 2,400 meters, overlooking the lush green Urubamba Valley.
The view over the old city and the panorama that opens up from up there is dreamlike.
It’s extremely well-preserved, despite being 600 years-old.
The city was lost and discovered only in 1911 by American historian-explorer Hiram Bingham.
In ancient times, the Spanish conquistadors have raided lots of nearby Inca cities, but they couldn’t find Machu Picchu due to its remote location. No-one would have thought that a city was built on top of the “Old Peak” (as the name Machu Picchu translates from Quechuan).
It’s more than just remote and beautiful. It’s fairy tale-like. A visit to Machu Picchu is a dreamlike experience… if you’re lucky enough to catch a sunny day!
Unfortunately, most of the time it’s covered in dense fog and rains are frequent.
A comprehensive Machu Picchu travel guide provided by RediscoverMachuPicchu.com gives us useful tips, suggestions on how and when to get to the magical site.
When to Go – Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu
April – October is the best interval for visiting Machu Picchu.
The biggest number of visitors arrives during the summer, but huge crowds gather and you might have to walk in line, person after person.
Expect occasional showers, dense fog, but cold winds and strong sunrays are both usual in the area.
Keep in mind that you should buy your tickets either from Cuzco or from your local travel agent. This is the normal procedure.
There are two ways to reach Machu Picchu: by a combination of train and bus or, by hiking.
Most visitors arrive in by train from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes (otherwise known as Machu Picchu Pueblo). From there, they take the bus all the way to the top.
If you want to hike on the Inca Trail, then make sure you’re well prepared and that you’ve booked months before from a travel agency. Only tour operators are allowed to access the trail and organize trips, you cannot go by yourself – it’s forbidden!
Years ago it was recommended to book about 3 months in advance for hiking on the Inca Trail. But during high season even this could be too late to book for an organized hiking trip.
January through April the trail is closed – these are the wet months and landslides can occur.
Hikers have 2 options: to hike on the short route for 2 days or, on the longer one for 4 days. Tents/accommodation are arranged by the tour operator.
Hikers get to see views that the train and bus travelers don’t. But the hikes aren’t for the weak, nor for small children. Although the heavy luggage will be carried by hired personnel, you should have good physical condition, some experience.
During the trip, altitudes well above 4,000 m are reached (on the long trail version) and insect bites are “part of the package” as well, so is shortness of breath, altitude sickness.
According to experts, the Inca Trail hike is moderately difficult. Plenty of elderly and teenagers take the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, but some advance preparation is necessary and due to the altitudes, it’s recommended to stay in Cuzco 7-10 days prior to taking on the hike.