Machu Picchu – the iconic wonder of Peru
In 2018, I finally had the opportunity to visit Machu Picchu, a marvel of engineering and architecture that has captivated travelers for centuries. The ancient ruins, nestled high in the Andes Mountains, are considered one of the world’s most significant cultural and architectural sites, and it was on my bucket list for as long as I can remember.
My journey began in Cusco, a vibrant city that was once the capital of the Inca Empire. From there, I embarked on a train journey to Aguas Calientes, a picturesque town at the base of the mountain where Machu Picchu is located. The train ride was a breathtaking experience, passing through the scenic landscapes of the Peruvian Andes, which were dotted with colorful flora and fauna.
Once in Aguas Calientes, I took a bus that wound its way up the mountain, through narrow and winding roads, until finally reaching the entrance to Machu Picchu. As I stepped out of the bus, I was greeted by the towering mountains surrounding me, and I knew I was about to witness something extraordinary.
The site itself is a 15th-century Inca citadel that was built without mortar or modern tools, a testament to the Inca’s architectural and engineering skills. The stones were precisely cut to fit together perfectly, creating a structure that has stood the test of time for over 500 years.
The Incas were deeply spiritual, and their beliefs deeply intertwined with their daily lives. Machu Picchu was believed to be a powerful place where the Incas could connect with their gods and the natural world. The citadel was used for religious rituals and ceremonies, and it was aligned with the cardinal points, with the main buildings positioned to align with specific astronomical events, such as the winter solstice.
Machu Picchu was also an important center of the Inca empire, home to a small community of elite Inca citizens, including priests, nobles, and administrators. They lived in the citadel’s luxurious palaces and houses adorned with intricate carvings and colorful frescoes.
Machu Picchu – the iconic wonder of Peru
Today, Machu Picchu remains a powerful reminder of the Inca’s rich culture and traditions. The Spanish conquered the Inca civilization in the 16th century, and Machu Picchu was abandoned and forgotten for centuries. It was rediscovered in 1911 by American explorer Hiram Bingham, and since then, it has become a major tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors worldwide each year.
Despite the crowds, Machu Picchu still evokes a sense of awe and wonder. It is a site where the past and present come together, where the natural beauty of the Andes Mountains meets the impressive architectural and engineering achievements of the Inca civilization. It is a testament to the enduring legacy of the Inca people, and the Peruvian people still hold the Inca culture and traditions alive by preserving the site and the local Quechua language, customs, and festivals.
I spent the whole day exploring Machu Picchu, marveling at the intricate details of the stone structures and imagining what life must have been like for the Inca people who once inhabited the site. I climbed to the top of the mountain, taking in the panoramic view of the surrounding landscape and feeling awe. My dream to visit Machu Picchu had finally come true, and it was an experience that exceeded my expectations in every way. The beauty and majesty of this ancient site left me with a sense of wonder and appreciation for the incredible achievements of the Inca people. Whether you explore the site on a guided tour, hike on the Inca Trail, or simply absorb the incredible views, Machu Picchu is a destination that will leave a lasting impression on all who visit.
Ways to explore Machu Picchu
In addition to its historical and cultural significance, Machu Picchu is a place of great natural beauty. The site is surrounded by lush rainforest and is nestled in the heart of the Andes Mountains. Visitors can explore the many trails that wind through the surrounding wilderness, taking in the breathtaking views of the mountains and valleys.
One of the most popular ways to explore Machu Picchu is through a guided tour. These tours offer visitors the opportunity to learn about the history and culture of the site from expert guides and to explore the many different aspects of the citadel. From the terraced gardens and farming terraces to the intricately carved stone buildings, there is something for everyone to discover at Machu Picchu.
Another popular way to experience Machu Picchu is through the Inca Trail trek. This multi-day hike takes visitors through the Andes Mountains, passing through some of the region’s most beautiful and remote parts. Trekkers will encounter ancient Inca ruins and stunning natural landscapes along the way. It’s a challenging yet rewarding experience that offers a deeper understanding of the Inca civilization and its connection to the land.
It is important to note that the number of daily visitors to Machu Picchu is limited to preserve the site and avoid overcrowding. It is recommended to book a visit in advance and be prepared for the altitude change, as the citadel sits at 2430 meters above sea level.
Best time to visit Machu Picchu
The best time to visit Machu Picchu is during the dry season, which runs from May to October. During this time, there is generally less rain, and the skies are clearer, providing better visibility of the site and the surrounding mountains.
However, it’s also the busiest time, with July and August being the peak months for tourism. Therefore, if you want to avoid crowds, it may be better to visit during the shoulder seasons of April, May, September, or October.
The rainy season, which runs from November to March, can make the trails slippery and muddy, and there’s a higher chance of landslides or other weather-related issues that may affect your visit. However, this is also when the landscape is at its greenest and most vibrant, and the crowds are much smaller.
Ultimately, the best time to visit Machu Picchu depends on your preferences and priorities, and it’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast before you go.
Tips for visiting Machu Picchu
Here are some tips for visiting Machu Picchu:
Book in advance: Machu Picchu has a limited number of tickets available each day, and they can sell out quickly. It’s important to book your tickets and any guided tours in advance to ensure availability.
Choose the right time to visit: The peak season for Machu Picchu is from June to August, so consider visiting during the shoulder season (April to May or September to October) to avoid crowds and get better weather.
Be prepared for the altitude: Machu Picchu is located at over 2430 meters above sea level, so altitude sickness can be a concern. Take it easy on the first day and drink plenty of water to acclimate.
Dress appropriately: The weather in Machu Picchu can be unpredictable, so dress in layers and bring a waterproof jacket. Wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking involved.
Hire a guide: Hiring a guide can enhance your experience at Machu Picchu. They can provide insights into the history and culture of the site and help you navigate the complex.
Stay in Aguas Calientes: Aguas Calientes is the closest town to Machu Picchu and is a great place to stay the night before or after your visit. It has plenty of accommodations and restaurants to choose from.
Plan your route: There are different routes to explore Machu Picchu, and some can be more challenging than others. Plan your route based on your fitness level and interests.
Respect the site: Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and should be treated with respect. Don’t litter, stay on designated trails, and avoid touching the ruins.
Hope that Machu Picchu – the iconic wonder of Peru helped you. For more info on how to organize a visit to Machu Picchu and how to buy tickets for the site and for a train online, click HERE.