Machu Picchu Peru – The Best Reason To Opt For Peru Holidays
Machu Picchu Peru, “The Lost City of the Incas” and one of the current seven wonders of the World is located 130 kilometres northwest of Cusco, in the Urubamba province, at the top of a mountain of the same name and surrounded by an abyss of slightly over 400 meters that forms the Urubamba River’ canyon.
Machu Picchu is divided in two areas: the agricultural area which includes large Inca terraces, and the urban area which is the place where the Incas lived and organized their religious and civil activities. The latter has indeed two sectors: Hanan, “High Sector”, inhabited by the Inca and his descendants and Urin, “Low Sector”, destined to the rest of the population.
This Historic Sanctuary is surrounded by a marvelous landscape full of color, with an exuberant Amazon jungle which shelters diverse flora and fauna. Its vegetation includes more than 200 orchid species and large ancient trees such as queñual, walnut and cedar. It is also a place to observe birds and mammals such as the Andean Condor, the Cock of the Rocks which is very representative of Peru, and the Spectacled Bear, among others. Without a doubt, Machu Picchu offers one of the most beautiful and magic sceneries on earth.
Short history of Machu Picchu Peru
Because of its location, many visitors of this to Machu Picchu Peru wonder how its old settlers moved these large blocks of stone that constitute this archaeological site and built this immense city at the top of a mountain. This mystery has generated several theories about its origin. Some people believe it is a fortress and therefore it is called “citadel” while others think that it is a religious and sacred place where the Incas worshiped their gods and made sacrifices as their main activities. According to recent investigations the most likely explanation is that Machu Picchu Peru was built by order of Pachacutec, “the Emperor Inca”, as a resting place.
To remove the unknowns, here is short history for you. Hiram Bingham discovered Machu Picchu Peru in 1911 with the help of local farmers. Shrouded in legend, the real purpose of Machu Picchu is still subject of many debates. Many contradictory explanations for its existence and for the fact that it couldn’t be found by the Spaniards have surfaced. One of the more popular explanations states that Machu Picchu Peru was some sort of Vacation retreat for the royalty of Cusco. The Inca themself probably forgot it, so even the Spaniards were not able to find the city anymore. To this day, lost cities are still being found in the area. Choquequirau is another site recently found and many others still continue to elude explorers. Most famous of all is Paititi, the city of gold and last retreat of the Inca.
No matter how much gold any of those places might hold, it is hard to imagine that those cities can rival Machu Picchu Peru in beauty. Perched high up in the Andean mountains, with breathtaking views of the valley and the Urubamba river below and Huayana Picchu above, the beauty of Machu Picchu Peru is hard to grasp. Upon entering the city for the first time, one can hear the many sighs of visitors who are just hit by the unbelievable sight. Photos cannot prepare you for what you are going to experience. No wonder the city attracts crowds of New Age people every day.
What is so special about Machu Picchu Peru?
Machu Picchu Peru is the most popular attraction and probably it is the most visited place too in the country, although it lays in a remote area only reachable by train and buses or by train and foot via the Inca Trail. You will have to take the train from Cusco to Aquas Calientes. You can either travel by tourist train, vistadome train or the outrageously expensive Hiram Bingham train. The ride takes between 3.5 to 4 hours one way. In Aquas Calientes you have several lodging opportunities. It lies at the foot of the mountains on which Machu Picchu is located. The Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge at the entrance to the city offers the best evening views of the city for well-off travelers. Shuttle busses will take you from Aquas Calientes to Machu Picchu. The ride takes about 20 minutes.
Travelers get the best overview of the city from the caretakers hut, uphill from the entrance. From here you can plan your attack on the city. Machu Picchu Peru is divided into three sectors, the Royal District, The Industrial District and the Sacred District. The hitching post of the sun (or Intiwatana) is probably the most famous of the archeological treasures found in the Sacred District. It is the best preserved one in all of South America. Others were torn down by Spaniards during the conquest. The Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the three Windows are other important places in the Sacred District.
Another great thing about Machu Picchu Peru is the easy access of hiring a tour guide or take your time to explore the city on your own if you prefer. Whatever way you choose, there are incredible things to be discovered, like a special stone in the quarry that impressively documents the stone splitting technique used by the Inca.
You should bring plenty of water, a raincoat and something to eat. There is no food inside the site and the only other restaurants besides the one in the Sanctuary Lodge can be found in Aquas Calientes. The train from Cusco arrives around 10am and leaves at around 3pm. There are plenty of eating opportunities in Aquas Calientes. As you may have guessed from the name of the city, you can find hot springs in Aquas Calientes. After a day of hiking in Machu Picchu Peru you can soak in a relaxing bath.
Recommended Machu Picchu Peru Tours
Are you planning to Travel to Machu Picchu Peru for your next exciting getaway? Machu Picchu is one of the most visited sites in all of Latin America and also one of the most worthwhile experiences of a lifetime! Of course there are thousands of Machu Picchu Tours available out there so how to choose the right one? How to know the best way to reach Machu Picchu Peru can be confusing, but rest assured that you will be able to travel to Machu Picchu Peru easily from the nearby town of Cuzco.
Travel to Machu Picchu Peru in as little as 1 day if you are short on time, or take a longer, more adventurous 4-Day Inca Trail Trek to reach this breathtaking Inca Citadel nestled in the lush jungle-covered mountains of the Andes.
There are so many Tours that you won’t be left behind. Take the scenic train trip from Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley to Machu Pueblo (Aguascalientes) located a quick 20-minute bus ride from the archaeological site. You can choose to go up and back in a full-day trip from Cuzco, but most travelers prefer taking a 2-Day trip and spending the night in Machu Pueblo. If you have extra time on your hands, stay an extra day so you can visit the hot springs in Aguascalientes or take a relaxing stroll to Mandor Waterfalls outside of town.
If you are looking for a more adventurous route to travel to Machu Picchu Peru consider one of the many trekking routes that take you through the Andes to reach the archaeological site.Only the Traditional Inca Trail Trek will lead you along the original Incan stone stairways and paths to reach the Inti Punku (Sun Gate) from which you can watch the sun rise over Machu Picchu at dawn, a truly spiritual experience. Choose a 4-day or a 2-day trekking option depending on your physical condition and time limits.
Other Machu Picchu Peru Tours like the Lares Trek, Choquequirao Trek, Salkantay Trek and Inca Jungle Trek will take you along alternative routes in the Andes to reach Machu Pueblo for an overnight stay, followed by a day-trip to visit the site the next day. All of these treks take you deep into the Andes Mountains to dizzying heights of over 4,000 meters above sea level to immerse yourself in pristine nature. Pass through local indigenous villages and take a peek into the lives of rural families along the way. Your knowledgeable local guide will show you the insights of the Inca culture and take you to the most interesting sites in Machu Picchu Peru, then give you free time to explore on your own.
All Machu Picchu Peru Tours will give you the option to trek the mystical Huayna Picchu (Wayna Picchu) peak located inside Machu at an extra cost. Be sure to inquire at least 2 weeks in advance as tickets are limited to 400 per day and may sell out during the high season months of June, July, and August.
Machu Picchu Peru Holidays Tips
As luxury holiday destinations go, Peru probably doesn’t rank that highly for high end tour expenditure. This shouldn’t be the case, because with Machu Picchu Peru as a focal point, the country is on a par with Europe, North America and Asia for premium hotels and travel experiences.
A stint in the city of Cusco is the beginning of your Machu Picchu Peru trip. You’re going to spend at least one night here, given that you’ll want to depart to Machu Picchu in the morning. In which case, you might as well spend a couple of nights and allow yourself to get acclimated to the altitude and enjoy some of the fine dining that Cusco has to offer.
Dining Options In Machu Picchu Peru
There are several restaurants worth going to in Machu Picchu Peru, but one of the best has to be a relative newcomer to the city; Tartessos. While it has a full menu, the tapas offer many different taste sensations, the desserts are heavenly and the wine list will make it difficult to make a choice. Other things that are worth considering include the Divina Comedia with its Quechua opera and Le Soleil, a new French restaurant. To help passengers carry on their conversations, tasteful intervals are used for singing.
Machu Picchu Peru Accommodation
For luxury hotels, the first name on the sheet has always been Monasterio. It has some competition now, however, in Inkaterra’s luxury boutique hotel, La Casona, located in the same plaza. Other offerings to consider are the Casa Andina Private Collection and the Libertador.
When it comes to luxury, there is only one way to travel to Machu Picchu Peru and that is on Peru Rail’s Hiram Bingham train. The South Americas isn’t known for its luxury trains but this train with its brunch on the way there, and pre-dinner cocktails with a 4-course meal on the return journey is as close as you can get to the Orient Express. The train will arrive around mid-day so it’s a good idea to simply relax and overnight, going to Machu Picchu the following morning when it’s less crowded. Note that the train is typically taken up and back in the same day so you will need to make it clear that you want a different itinerary.
Once you’re at Machu Picchu Pueblo, also known as Aguas Calientes, you have some choices to make. The architectural site itself is home to one of the best luxury hotels. Although this doesn’t give you any additional privileges as far as the site is concerned, you will get some stunning views of the citadel that you couldn’t otherwise obtain.
Room choices include suites, rooms that have terraces and rooms that have mountain views. It is also possible to get a room with a king-sized bed. The restaurant is gourmet quality, featuring both Peruvian dishes as well as those from around the world. You can have a massage as you relax or enjoy the hotel gardens.
When it comes to gardens, however, the Inkaterra’s Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel can’t be beat. The grounds are enormous, allowing you to take a lovely walk without even leaving the hotel where there is a nature center allowing you to enjoy a huge variety of birds and orchids.
This hotel also offers a fantastic restaurant and spa area. Choices of rooms include casitas with their own fireplaces and villa suites, each of which has its own pools, garden and terraces.
Last but not least, a luxury alternative is the Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel for your accommodation needs. A spa and five-star hotel, this too comes with junior, superior or full suites with some rooms having a jacuzzi, fireplace and king-sized bed. Of special mention here is the gastronomic pleasures offered by the hotel restaurant.
By now, you should have a clue that visiting Machu Picchu Peru is travelling to traditions, experiences, beliefs and knowledge of the Incas; a millenary and enigmatic culture and attracting to our eyes. Walking through its Inca walls built with large stones that fit perfectly together without mortar; appreciating the Intihuatana or “solar watch” perfect sample of the Andean Cosmo vision; walking up to the Sun Gate to observe the most impressive view of Machu Picchu; absorbing all the energy that this Inca city emanates from each spot respond to why Machu Picchu Peru is a wonder between the clouds.
Long story short, Machu Picchu Peru can be one of the most incredible experiences of your life. Make sure to plan ahead and choose the trip that best fits your needs so you will enjoy it fully!
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