Latin AmericaMachu PicchuPeru

Machu Picchu, wonder of the world.

Machu Picchu is considered one of the new wonders of the world. It is a magical and energetic place located between the jungle and the Andes mountain range.

The citadel, which is located on the mountain Machu Picchu, was destined to serve as home and worship for the Inca establishment. It was built around the year 1450 by order of the Inca Pachacutec, abandoned during the conquest of Peru and rediscovered for the world in 1911 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham.

We say rediscovered since the inhabitants of the area knew of the existence of some ruins in that place (also it is spoken of the Cusqueño Agustín Lizárraga like the original discoverer, 9 years before). It was not until the end of the 70’s that the access was restored and adapted, since before you could go up and see the ruins without any control.

Not only stands out the citadel of Machu Picchu (old mountain in Quechua), but you can also contemplate and visit Huayna Picchu (young mountain in Quechua). This corresponds to the highest hill located next to Machu Picchu, where there is a viewpoint with spectacular views of the citadel and the rest of valleys and mountains of the area.

Before the trip to Machu Picchu

Since it is the tourist destination of Peru par excellence, we recommend that you plan and buy transportation tickets, accommodations and tickets as soon as possible.

To help you, we have indicated in the following post the recommendations to keep in mind to plan your trip to this magic site.

In addition, to have a complete trip, we recommend using our travel configurator so that you plan the visits to the tourist destinations of Peru according to your availability of days.

Getting to Machu Picchu

To get to Machu Picchu you must first travel to the city of Cusco and, once there, you have several options to get to Aguas Calientes (village located at the foot of Machu Picchu):

    1. Travel by train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes.
    2. Travel by bus, van or private transportation to Ollantaytambo, visit the archaeological site and take a train to Aguas Calientes.
    3. Any of the variants of the Inca Trail

In this post we will show you the 2nd option, which is the most complete option for a tourist trip.

Getting to Cusco

Until the international airport of Chinchero is opened, estimated by 2021, the only option is to arrive by plane via Lima (or from other cities in the south before crossing Lima).

There are many flights a day, so you can choose the schedule that suits you. However, we recommend arriving in the evening to start the trip the next day in the first hour. You will not get to know much by the hour, but strolling through Cusco at night also has its charm.

Cusco main square at night

Street of Cusco at night

Anyway, the ideal is to have enough days on your trip to visit both Machu Picchu and Cusco and its archaeological sites. This will take you 5 to 7 days, depending on your tastes when traveling, but it’s worth it.

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1st day. Visit of Ollantaytambo and arrival to Aguas Calientes

Since the archaeological site of Ollantaytambo is on the way to Machu Picchu, we took the opportunity to visit it on the same trip.

Ollantaytambo is the entry point to the Amazonian area of Cusco and the final point of the sacred valley.

We took the bus from the company “Cruz del Sur” early in the morning (station located at 14 Industrial Street, Cusco). If there is no availability, or you prefer another option, you can also get to Ollantaytambo in a private transport or one of the vans that make the trip every day (taxi rank in Cabitos, Cusco).

The road is a bit long, 90 km, but you can enjoy the views of the valley and the colorful villages of the place.

Once you reach Ollantaytambo you can visit both the town and the archaeological site:

  • Village of Ollantaytambo. Colonial village located in the valley. Here you can rest, have lunch and visit its streets and houses. In some of these you can see a mixture of styles, the base of the house on Inca walls and the rest with colonial architecture.

    Village of Ollantaytambo

  • Face of the Inca. One of the nearby hills forms a figure, which with a little imagination you can associate with the face of an Inca.

    Face of the Inca

  • Archaeological site of Ollantaytambo. It is one of the most important tourist places of the sacred valley. Here you can visit both the terraces and the temple area with its main altar.

    Archaeological site of Ollantaytambo

    Main altar in Ollantaytambo

    Just in front of the archaeological zone, you can see the deposits that used to store food. Due to the wind that runs through the valley, to the shaded area and to the great walls the food remained in good condition longer.

    Deposits in Ollantaytambo

After lunch, and according to the train schedule you chose, go to the train station and continue your trip to Aguas Calientes (located at the foot of Machu Picchu mountain).

Peru rail

The journey lasts about 1:30 hours, so relax and enjoy the views as you approach one of the new wonders of the world.

Aguas Calientes is a small town, focused on giving accommodation to tourists who come to see Machu Picchu, so it has no special tourist interest.

You can tour the town, contemplate the Urubamba river that crosses it, relax in its hot springs, visit one of its multiple markets for tourists and take a photo with the statue in honor of Pachacutec.

Aguas Calientes town

We recommend you to have dinner soon, prepare the backpack and rest, since the next day you have to get up very early (the weather is more stable first thing in the morning).

2nd Day. Visit of Machu Picchu (and Huayna Picchu)

Get up as soon as possible, like at 6:00, have breakfast and head to the bus stop to Machu Picchu.

The displacement is short, about 20 minutes. During the tour you can enjoy the views, watching the valleys and the Urubamba river running through the mountains.

Valleys and the Urubamba river in Machu Picchu

  1. Citadel of Machu Picchu

    Once you arrive, give your ticket and head to the entrance, where you can see the first views of the impressive citadel of Machu Picchu (and Huayna Picchu).

    Citadel of Machu Picchu

    It is impressive not only the citadel, all the mountains and valleys that surround it produce a magical effect. Few places in the world give off this energy.

    Valleys that surround Machu Picchu

    Views of valleys in Machu Picchu

    Following the route you can visit the area of terraces that were cultivated on one side of the citadel.

    Area of terraces in Machu Picchu

    Terraces in Machu Picchu

    Afterwards, you will enter fully into the citadel, where you can contemplate the archaeological remains that formed this ancient Inca city:

      • Sun Temple. Place of worship where religious ceremonies were held, mainly in winter solstice (21-Jun).

        Sun temple in Machu Picchu

        Inside the temple you can see a large carved stone, which served as the main altar.

        Main Altar of Sun Temple in Machu Picchu

      • Royal Mausoleum. Just below the Temple of the Sun is a cave with the well-worked stone. It is believed that mummies were found inside, it is even speculated that the mummy of Pachacútec rested in this place.

        Royal Mausoleum in Machu Picchu

      • Main temple. It was the main building with ceremonial sense of the city. It differs from the temple of the 3 windows by a more polished and linear walls. There is a theory which indicates that several of the hollows of the wall deposited funeral remains.

        Main temple in Machu Picchu

        Main temple front in Machu Picchu

        It is impressive how after so long the walls remain in such good state of preservation (even after being affected by earthquakes).

        Inca walls in Machu Picchu

      • Intihuatana stone (in Quechua ‘where the Sun is moored’). It is one of the most studied archaeological remains of the citadel, but still it does not have its exact meaning. It is believed to serve as a reference point for astronomical events.

        Intihuatana stone in Machu Picchu

      • Temple of the 3 windows.One of the most important temples of the citadel. It stands out for the 3 typical trapezoidal windows of the Inca constructions. It is situated very close to the sacred place, reason why is thought that had enough importance within the citadel.

        Temple of the 3 windows in Machu Picchu

      • Sacred Square. Main terrace in the citadel. It is located in the middle of it and flanked by different buildings.

        Sacred Square in Machu Picchu

      • Acllahuasi or group of mortars. It is believed that it corresponded with the house of chosen women (Acllahuasi in Quechua), dedicated to the religious ceremonies. There are several altars and rooms for worship.

        Acllahuasi in Machu Picchu

      • In the tour of the citadel you will also find some nice llamas. Take photos, but do not get too close. They can spit you.

        Llamas in Machu Picchu

  2. Huayna Picchu

    It has a viewpoint on the top of the hill. It takes about 30 minutes to climb up there and although the tour is somewhat tired and you do not have to have vertigo, the views are spectacular.

    Huayna Picchu hill

    Huayna Picchu views

Return to Cusco

Once you finish the visit, return to the entrance area and seal your passport with the image of Machu Picchu. A good memory of this wonder.

Image of Machu Picchu in passport

Go down to Aguas Calientes and take the train back. Once there, if you have days, we recommend you visit Cusco and its archaeological sites.

We hope you have enjoyed our experience and do not hesitate, plan your trip to Peru and visit one of the new wonders of the world.

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