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Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage site, is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World and without a doubt one of the most spectacular ancient citadels in the world.
Machu Picchu citadel is classed as one of the finest examples of landscape architecture in the world. Discovered in 1911 by US explorer Hiram Bingham, Machu Picchu – which means “old mountain” in Quechua – sits on top of a mountain, above the Urubamba river and in a cloud forest high in the Andes Mountain range.
The complex was built in the 15th century by the Inca Pachacútec. It is split into two major areas: the agricultural area, which is made up of food storehouses and terraces, and the sacred area, which has perfectly carved temples, tombs and squares. It is said that Machu Picchu was a centre of worship and an astronomic observatory, as well as the private retreat of Pachacútec, who was the Incan ruler.
The citadel of Machu Picchu is accessed from the small town of Machu Picchu Town (formerly Aguas Calientes), only accessible by foot or a three and a half hour train ride from Cusco.
Once at Machu Picchu Town, it is a 20-minute bus ride up the mountain to the citadel. A great option for those wanting more time to fully appreciate this world masterpiece is to stay in Machu Picchu Town. There is only a small selection of hotels here, however, so early booking is strongly recommended!
There is only one hotel located at the actual Machu Picchu site – the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge. One of the biggest benefits of staying in this beautiful hotel is the ability to beat the crowds first thing in the morning, meaning you might just be able to explore this incredible site in (almost) solitude.
The Inca Trail is perhaps the most well-known, and iconic, way to reach the citadel. Taking 4 days and 3 nights, the hike along ancient Incan pathways passes through outstanding scenery of Andean peaks, steep mountain passes and incredible cloud forests, not to mention a landscape full of centuries-old ruins that only those hiking this very trail have the opportunity to witness. But the real highlight? Reaching Machu Picchu, and entering at sunrise – an experience we guarantee will be etched into your memory forevermore.
The Inca Trail isn't the only trek that leads to Machu Picchu however. Other options are the Salkantay and Lares routes, which offer equally impressive scenery with the benefit of far fewer tourists. You can read more about all routes in our Machu Picchu trekking guide.
Machu Picchu is open year-round. May–October is the most popular time of year, largely due to it being the dry season. Officially, November to April is the rainy season, however, in reality it can rain (or stay dry) at anytime.
The peak season is July–August, which can – and does – attract large crowds, but we know the best ways to avoid these, so speak to your Travel Specialist to find out the best options for you to visit this truly magical place.
We know that visiting Machu Picchu is likely to have been a dream for many years, so finally planning this trip can be a daunting task!
Worry not, that's what we are here to help with. We can create a tailor-made Truly Individual holiday – perfectly planning your ideal trip to Peru and this mighty Incan masterpiece. Or, if you'd rather experience this with other like-minded travellers, choose from one of our small escorted group tours that include this magical destination, and experience a truly stress-free adventure whilst on one of the most individual group tours available.
Our passionate and friendly Travel Specialists know all there is to know about Peru, so they will be able to help with all your queries and requirements, and suggest the very best options for you.
Alternatively call our Travel Specialists on 0208 546 6222.
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