Machu Picchu

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Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu (map) is the site of an ancient Inca city, high in the Andes of Peru. At 2,430 metres (8,000 ft) above sea level, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is often referred to as “The Lost City of the Incas”, is one of the most familiar symbols of the Incan Empire, and is one of the most famous and spectacular sets of ruins in the world.

It is also the end point of the most popular hike in South America, the *Inca Trail. Current researchers tend to believe that Machu Picchu was a country resort for elite Incas.


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Thousands of tourists walk the Inca Trail to visit Machu Picchu each year. They congregate at *Cusco (map) before starting on the one-, two-, four- or five-day journey on foot from kilometer 82 (or 77 or 85, four/five-day trip) or kilometer 104 (one/two-day trip) near the town of *Ollantaytambo (map) in the Urubamba valley, walking up through the Andes to the isolated city.

The closest access point to Machu Picchu is the village of Machupicchu, also known as Aguas Calientes (map).

The fee schedule and online tickets are available at the government website and from ticket offices listed on that website.

There are no toilets within the site itself, but they are available right outside the entrance and are clean and well maintained.

The only ways to get to Aguas Calientes are by train or on foot—no roads go there. On foot, it is possible to get to Aguas Calientes by traveling through Santa Maria and Santa Teresa by public transport or with a minibus from Cuzco with a travel agency as described in Aguas Calientes. This alternate route involves walking (2½–3 hours) or taking the train for “only” $28 (this would be the cheapest PeruRail train as of May 2015). The basket riding crossing is not required anymore.

The wet season in Peru is from November (often only really taking off in December) until the end of March.

There are also other options available for hiking to Machu Picchu. This is important to know the Inca Trail hike is limited to the number of people that can go on it each day, including porters. As such, there is a much steeper price on this trek and it is necessary to book far in advance to get a place on the dates you will be there.

Two other cheaper, but equally as good, options are the Salkantay Trek and the Inca Jungle Trek. Most, if not all, tour agencies in Cuzco offer these. The Salkantay Trek is a 5-day trek through the Salkantay Mountain Pass. The scenery is amazing and if you go in the rainy season you will be rewarded with dozens of waterfalls. Though, at the same time, you will be wet for the most part anyways.

The other option, the Inca Jungle Trek, is a three day trek that begins with a drive to the top of a mountain and then a bike ride down to the bottom. A full day of hiking follows the next day to Aguas Calientes.

Public transport

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 BUS >   Peru HopExpreso BolivarianoCiva/ExclucivaCruz del SurRapidos de Chile, AndesmarExpreso Internacional Ormeño

 RAIL >   Ferrocarril Central de Andino (FCCA) is the second highest railway in the world and the Highest in South America, connecting Lima to Huancayo.

 AIRPORTS >   The capital city of Lima has Jorge Chávez International Airport with frequent flights to/from all over the world.