On the slopes above the Vilcanota River lies one of the most beautiful and renowned archaeological sites on the planet. Considered by some to be a mystical place exuding vital energy, Machu Picchu is also remarkable for its solid construction, well-balanced use of space, and the harmony of its design with the natural surroundings. Its name comes from a Quechua phrase that means “Old Mountain.”
Amazingly enough, this incredible place, although always known to local people, was unknown to the Western World until the guide Melchor Arteaga led Professor Hiram Bingham here in 1911. Bingham returned in 1914 with the support of Yale University and the National Geographic Society to "rediscover" the site.
Since that time, Machu Picchu has been called the “Lost City of the Incas.” Although there are still varying theories as to the original purpose of the site, there is no doubt that it can inspire awe, both because of the structures itself as well as the stunning landscapes surrounding it. The Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary is a natural reserve that UNESCO declared a World Cultural and Natural Heritage site in 1983.
The town near Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes, is accessible by rail from Cusco (3 to 4 hours, depending on type of train service), and the bus ride from Aguas Calientes to the archaeological site takes 20 minutes. Visitors must heed the conservation regulations of the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary.
The Inca Trail
The Inca Trail is a physical and mental challenge, but an ultimately rewarding adventure requiring four days of difficult walking over rugged terrain and changing altitudes to reach the final destination: Machu Picchu.
Attractions and activities:
- The town of Aguas Calientes nestled at the bottom of awe-inspiring mountains.
- Climbing Huayna Picchu.
- Bird & wildlife spotting.
- Excellent flora (especially for lovers of orchids).
- Thermal Hot Springs
- Shopping for Arts and Crafts