The sight of this ancient citadel, unfolding beside soaring mountains and low-hung cloud at the end of the four-day Inca Trail trek, is as breathtaking as they come.
From the first few fleeting glimpses to the full-on vista of this beguiling and secret city at the Sun Gate, you’ll be under no illusion as to why this is clearly a ‘wonder’. Astonishingly, the Incas managed to build this hill-perched site in what’s ultimately the middle of nowhere, and it wasn’t until 1911 that it was discovered by Yale professor Hiram Bingham. While you’re clearly not the first, and certainly won’t be the last, it’s the stuff of travel legend and a must-do.
Machu Picchu Facts
- The most popular way to approach the site is the Inca Trail trek. This three-day trek reaches a lung-squeezing height of 4,214 metres at its highest and there are several sections of original Inca stone paths along the way. Due to fears of erosion the government limits the number of people embarking on the trek to 500, which includes the compulsory, locally-hired porters.
- Many of the porters will sleep with a shiny metal object or mirror beneath them when on the trail. They believe it deflects spirits coming up through the earth and whisking them away. Ask any guide or porter, and most will tell you that at some time they have experienced the feeling of being pulled out of their tents by spirits of the past.
- At the ruins themselves, there are rules of entrance. One of the lesser-known is that you may not enter dressed in the traditional costume of another country; so anyone thinking of going dressed in your kilt and sporran, your kimono, or Swiss milkmaid outfit, should think again.
- A few years ago, two spectacled bears – of Paddington Bear fame – were seen wondering the ruins alongside the throngs of visitors. Spectacled bears are occasionally spotted in the area, but it is very rare to see them in the ruins themselves.
- Machu Picchu is called the “lost city” because the jungle had literally swallowed it when Yale explorer Hiram Bingham III “rediscovered” it in 1911. When the overgrown vegetation was removed, the complex of ruins was revealed.
Machu Picchu Reviews
"I was in Machu Picchu early in 2007, when the long-list of Seven Wonders had been produced, but the votes not taken and counted. It was not at all crowded that day, and we met the Mayor of nearby Aguas Calientes, showing round a group of Chinese VIPs. They stopped to say hello to us: “Please vote for Machu Picchu!” the Mayor said. She said the same to her Chinese dignitaries, and they all smiled and nodded politely, and did not mention their own Great Wall … Of course we voted for Machu Picchu; how could anyone not do so?"
Teresa Mozley - Customer Relations Executive
“I travelled to Aguas Calientes in the comfort of a train with large glass windows in both sides of the carriages and the roof which allowed spectacular views of the ever-changing scenery as we descended down to the cloudforest. Once we arrived in the small bustling village of Aguas Callientes, it was a short hop up the long windy track, then through the gate to get our passport stamped with the essential ‘Macchu Picchu’ stamp. From there we had a meandering wander through the cloudforest until rounding a corner to get my first glimpse at one of the most famous, beautiful and well kept sites in history. I’d heard so much about Macchu Picchu from a variety of colleagues, friends and customers, but I can tell you that this first glimpse did not disappoint, and is a moment that has been etched into my memory forever."
Chris Ellis - Regional Specialist - Asia
Our 20-day Peru Inca Trail takes in some of Peru’s most famous sites, including Cusco, Lake Titicaca, and the classic Inca trail to Machu Picchu.