Machu Picchu citadel
Machu Picchu is Peru’s most famous tourist attraction. You can’t visit Peru without going to Machu Picchu! This ‘hidden city’ of the Incas, located on a mountain, was explored just in 1911. Machu Picchu is located at 2,430 meters (8,000 feet) and is an UNESCO World Heritage site. Walk the most famous trail of South America to Machu Picchu: the Inca trail! On your way you pass a lot of well known Inca ruins, before you enter Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu is one of the most important attractions in South America: beautiful stone architecture enhanced by the Incas' exploitation of local million-year-old rocks of granite with a high content of quartz, silica and feldspar. This set against a vast, scenic background of green forested mountains that spike up from the deep valleys of the Urubamba and its side-rivers. The distant glacial mountain peaks are dwarfed only by the huge sky.
Never discovered by the Spanish conquerors, the site lay forgotten for many centuries. Only local Indians and settlers knew of the existence, until it was found on July 24, 1911 by the US explorer Hiram Bingham. It was a great find, especially because it was still relatively intact, without the ravages of Spanish conquistadors or tomb robbers.
More than a hundred flights of steep stone steps interconnect its terraces, palaces, storehouses and temples, and the outstanding views command not only the valley below in both directions, but also extend to the snowy peaks around Salcantay. Everywhere around these ruins, spectacular terraces can be seen slicing across ridiculously steep cliffs, transforming mountains into suspended gardens. Many people base themselves at the settlement of the ‘Machu Picchu pueblo’ (previously known as Aguas Calientes) in order to visit the ruins of Machu Picchu. The lively settlement has decent accommodations, restaurants and shops and is connected to the ruins by bus.
Machu Picchu: getting there
There are different ways to visit Machu Picchu and they all start in the city of Cusco. Most people go by train. You can take the train from Cusco. This will take you in about 3 hours to the train station of Machu Picchu. The train station of Machu Picchu is in the village of Machu Picchu, also known as Aguas Calientes. This village is located at the feet of the mountain where the ruins of Machu Picchu are. In this village you will find many hotels, restaurants and other tourist facilitations (tourist prices!). You can take the train early in the morning, visit Machu Picchu and return by train at night to Cusco. Also popular is to take the train during daytime, sleep one night in the village of Machu Picchu and visit the ruins leaving early the next morning. You will have plenty of time exploring the ruins and head back for Cusco later on. Contact us to go to Machu Picchu by train >
You can take the train from Cusco, but also from the Sacred Valley. You take the bus from Cusco to Ollantaytambo (about 1,5 hours more). In total it takes you there in the same time, but you can combine your trip to Machu Picchu for example with a day trip to the Sacred Valley.
Machu Picchu: getting in
If you buy an organized tour, the entrance ticket is included in the trekking / tour. But if you organize it yourself, you need to buy your entrance ticket to Machu Picchu yourself. You can buy this ticket online. The entrance fee for Machu Picchu is currently S/126.00 (about $ 45 USD); students with an ISIC card pay half: S/63. Be sure to bring your passport as you may have to show it upon entry. And there is also a stamp booth as you exit where you can get a stamp in your passport.
Since July 2011, Machu Picchu officially declared a limit to the number of entrances allowed into the park per day. Only 2.500 people are allowed to enter Machu Picchu each day. Visitors must purchase tickets for Machu Picchu in advance. There are also a few extra’s to do like climbing the Huayna Picchu. You need to purchase this ticket in advance as well.