Thousands of sightseers visit the enigmatic Incan citadel of Machu Picchu every year. Why? Just because travel planners across the world vouch for the charisma of this unique travel destination or is it something else? Somewhere deep within us, there is an unaddressed curiosity to relive the lives our ancestors once lived, explore cities that have aged into modern mysteries. The Lost City of Machu Picchu addresses this craving rather well. This is not your typical party destination. Expect history, some folklore and lots of room to introspect at this last relic of the great Incans. For those inspired by the Indiana Jones franchise, the city of Machu Picchu provides the perfect, Hollywood-like backdrop. Here, you are traveling into a habitat that once flourished, many centuries ago. Counted among the most revered heritage sites in the world, Machu Picchu, also known as ‘Lost city of Incas’, is built with stones so massive that it bewilders the mind how they were moved without using wheels or iron tools. It takes more than wearing a sun-protection cream to enjoy your visit here. Approach Machu Picchu as a traveler’s ultimate challenge, not because of the thrills it offers but because it dazzles you, overwhelms you with its riches of heritage locales and as you exit, nails many unanswered questions into your mind!
Here, we are sharing some travel guidelines if you plan to navigate your way through Peru’s most iconic Incan archaeological site and one of the most well preserved historic secrets of the modern world…
Getting to Know Machu Picchu
Stop Googling for “secrets” of Machu Picchu. If you can keep track of the basics, it is more than sufficient to understand what stands to enthrall you. Declared as a World Heritage Site in 1983, Machu Picchu was home to Incan civilization. A reasonably well-intact abandoned city, Machu Picchu once used to be overrun with trade and culture. In the 15th century, Incan Emperor Pachacútec built this mesmerizing city to reach out for the clouds on an old mountain known as Machu Picchu.
This spectacular city is perhaps emblematic of Inca engineering and architecture. You will find more than 600 terraces beautifully constructed to prevent the city from sliding down the mountains. Each temple is oriented in a way that it catches the first rays of the rising sun. Slopes of roofs reflect the mountain of Huayna Picchu. This astonishing monument is situated at Andes Plateau, amidst the dense Amazon forests and above the Urubamba River at 2,360 meters above sea level.
The place was abandoned because of a smallpox outbreak soon after the Spanish defeated the Incan Empire. The city remained ‘lost’ for over three centuries only to be unveiled by an American academic, explorer and politician Hiram Bingham in 1911. Since then, the site has attracted admiration of millions of people across the globe and is perhaps the most historic site for the Peruvian people.
Enjoying Nature en route to Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is open year-round. There is very little ‘seasonal’ about the place and you must expect some serious crowds at this UNESCO World Heritage site. However, July and August are considered peak seasons. Exploring the agricultural trails, intricate stone constructions, as well as epic hilltop views involves logistics so tricky that even travel guides are left short of providing reasonable answers.
However, one aspect of your Machu Picchu vacation that you can plan ahead is choosing the right public transportation.
Journey from Cusco to Machu Picchu via Bus
Traveling via bus is an easy option as the buses run along the route almost every 5 to 10 minutes, both ways. Buses to Machu Picchu departure from bus terminal of Aguas Calientes. You can easily locate the ticket office that is located besides the Vilcanote River. Buses start leaving for the site as early as 5.30 am and the last bus comes down at around 4.00 pm. Reaching the bus stop at least 30 minutes before you would like to depart is recommended.
Rail Route: An Off-the-Beaten-Path to Machu Picchu
“Cusco never rests” as you will always find traffic in some form, no matter how ungainly or slow. Thus, a wise decision is to choose the rail route. There are three train companies to choose from: Inca Rail, Peru Rail, and Belmond Hiram Bingham. From the main train station, it is a short walk to Consettur Bus Stop. Tickets can be purchased online or from the bus stop. Hiram Bingham service is the more lavish option, gleaming with brass and polished wood. PeruRail offers a comfortable way of reaching the site whereas IncaRail is the most preferred option. Whichever train you choose, we recommend booking as far in advance as possible as tickets sell out very quickly. The ride from Cusco to Machu Picchu takes about 4 hours 15 minutes.
Alternative Treks to Reach the World Heritage Site
There are no roads to MP. Nothing beats exploring this place of exceptional natural beauty than trekking. If you are interested in Inca ruins and fantastic views of the site and want to absorb every bit of the surrounding exotic terrains, trek through the mountains of Aguas Calientes. Here, you can camp and enjoy views that the more stable commuting options cannot provide.
Machu Picchu is mistaken to be much pricier than it actually is. Hopefully, this information will help you explore and enjoy Machu Picchu in a more organized and fulfilling way!
I am an addicted traveler based in Sydney, Australia and I explored Europe, North & South America, East Asia & South-East Asia. I love sharing my travel knowledge, I want to benefit my readers and give valuable travel advice.