The misty clouds surround the mountains as you trek your way through the mysterious ruins of the Incas. Welcome to Machu Picchu. It is easy to see why this UNESCO World Heritage Site is so often described as the trip of a lifetime and it is extremely popular with tourists, to the point where the site undergoes a lot of preservation, but with such a huge hype surrounding the destination it would be easy to think that it might disappoint. However, Machu Picchu is the one destination that is regularly voted as the top travel destination by travellers themselves, who describe it as breath taking and unforgettable.
So, what can you find at Machu Picchu & why is it so popular?
Located in the Cusco Region of Peru, Machu Picchu sits on a mountain ridge, which is the saddle between two Andean Peaks, at an altitude of 7973 ft. High above the sacred valley the site was built in 1450 by the Incas, who were the last pre-Colombian society, and it was effectively abandoned around a century later, with its lost social history leaving a lot of questions surrounding the site unanswered. Although it has remained known to the locals throughout this time it was rediscovered by the wider world in 1911 by Hiram Bingham of Yale University, and its international fame rose.
The site totals a huge 116 miles when including the forest and wilderness park but the ruins, which were constructed in a classical Inca style with polished stone walls, are around the size of a large village. There are three structures that can be found at Machu Picchu in the Sacred District that should not be missed, the Inti Watana, which is a ritual stone that is associated with an Incan astronomic clock or calendar. The next is the Temple of the Three Windows, which is a large hall that stands near the Main Plaza and has three large windows on one wall. These are the largest in Incan architecture. The last is the Temple of the Sun which is in the position of highest altitude and this is where the most important events were held for the Incas, such as religious sacrifices and rituals.
When should you visit?
Peak season to visit Machu Picchu is between July and August so if you want to visit when there are smaller crowds it might be best to avoid at this time. However, January and February are the wettest months here although the Andean Foothills are prone to wet weather at all times and even in the drier peak period you will probably encounter some inclement weather. Also, the Inca trail closes every February, so if this is high on your itinerary then you should bear this in mind.
What do you need to pack?
The altitude also effects the temperature and when this is combined with the precipitation it can get cool so it is sensible to take some kind of sweater. In fact, rainproof clothing is a must but make sure you also have your sunglasses and a high factor sun cream as the sun is still powerful even when it is cool. Also, check that your insurance covers you for high altitude trekking and, of course, a very good pair of walking boots, your feet will thank you for it.
Discover the ancient sites of Peru
Choose from one of our popular Escorted Tours of Peru which include all flights, accommodation, transfers and entry fees.
|Sacred Peru Tour||12 days||from £1949pp|
|Inca Explorer||13 days||from £2499pp|