Dare to uncover the secrets of the Inca culture and explore Machu Picchu in-depth. Peru’s most famous civilization continues to amaze us with its authentic engineering, architecture, and culture. Therefore, the famous Inca Citadel is considered one of the new seven wonders of the world due to its impressive structure and the riddles it left behind.
The Peruvian wonder of the world receives over 1.5 million tourists per year, making it the most visited attraction in South America. However, it is known so little of this ancient structure that many theories have been raised since Hiram Bingham unveiled it to the world in 1911.
It is believed that Machu Picchu was abandoned 100 years after its construction. Although there’s no evidence that the Spanish conquerors are related to the cause, some studies indicate that the Incas left this unique location due to the smallpox epidemic, but this is still a mystery.
Historians all over the world theorize that Machu Picchu was a ceremony center, and others believe that it served as a royal state. Although the main purpose of Machu Picchu remains uncertain, the most accurate seems to point to the Inca Citadel as a religious center due to its proximity to mountains and other features that the Incas considered Sacred.
Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, and it wasn’t until 2007 that it was granted recognition as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. This famous historic sanctuary has maintained its ancient structure nearly untouched until the current date.
Historians believe that machu picchu was built during the height of the Inca empire, between the XV and XVI centuries. However, the site was abandoned 100 years after its construction, and there is no evidence that points to the cause of the desertion, though archeologists suggest that it was because of a smallpox epidemic, as we mentioned before.
Unfortunately, there are no records that hint the purpose of the site since it's strategic location made it practically invisible to intruders. Likewise, not even the Spaniards found out about this beautiful structure.
There are different hypotheses that point out Machu Picchu as a royal state for the inca emperors and nobles, whilst others have theorized that it could be a religious center. However, further excavations on the site have shown evidence that it could have been an actual citadel where people used to live happily and without violence, dedicated to agriculture, pottery, textile production, and religious activities as well.
In the site were also found some artifacts that were traced to other societies of Peru, especially from the coast, meaning that the city of the Incas could have been a powerful economic center where trading took place.
In 1911, Hiram Bingham set course to find the lost city of the Incas, what he didn't know was that he would find something else even more impressive. On july 24th, the explorer was led by an 11-year-old child to the majestic Inca Sanctuary.
After that, Bingham was amazed by his discovery and revealed it to the entire world. In the process, the north-american archeologist and his group carried out excavations on the site and took several Inca objects and art pieces to the U.S. which after a hundred-year dispute were brought back to Peru.
However, people often refer to Hiram Bingham as the 'discoverer' of Machu Picchu though this isn't true since locals already knew about the place, as well as other outsiders that happened to stand upon this now wonder of the world between the 19th and 20th centuries.
The remarkable architectural style and engineering work of Machu Picchu has captivated every one of its visitors. The site is divided into agricultural, administrative, residential, and religious centers.
All the buildings are structured with a masonry technique that has the particularity of ensuring the stability of the construction without using any type of mortar.
However, before they even started to build the citadel, the Incas faced a major challenge that could have destroyed the whole structure if they didn't solve it. The region where Machu Picchu is located is prone to seismic activity, which is why they managed to balance and modify the terrain with a system of terraces so it would be more estable.
These terraces fulfilled structural and agricultural functions. They even contrived a drainage system that distributed the water received by rain throughout the soil, avoiding the erosion of the superficial land. The terraces also served as crop fields that facilitated the production of corn, the main food of the citadel.
It is estimated that between 300 and 1,000 people lived in Machu Picchu since the entire site has at least 200 architectural structures made of carved rocks.
Machu Picchu is located in the limit of the Peruvian high jungle and the Andes, at 2,430 meters above sea level. The temperatures in this region range between 12°C and 24°C, it has predominant warm and humid weather throughout the day and its colder during the night. The climate condition in Machu Picchu is characterized by two primary seasons:
- Rainy Season: It takes place between December and April, being these the rainiest months of the year. However, the rainy season is expected to transition with mild precipitations between October and December.
- Dry Season: It is considered the coldest season of the year. This period starts in May and ends in September. Bright and sunny days are expected throughout this season.
It is worth mentioning that the weather conditions in this region may change drastically. Therefore, we encourage you to know everything about it and prepare the perfect Machu Picchu packing list before venturing out to this wonder.
Depending on the type of experience you’d like to have, there are different ways to get to Machu Picchu. From the most adventurous treks to the most in-demand transpor options, here are some recommendations to help you plan your itinerary:
1. Treks to Machu Picchu:
Many trails take you to this enigmatic wonder of the world. Here we’ll mention the most popular trekking activities to reach Machu Picchu:
- The famous Inca Trail has been the Nº 1 option to many travelers that wish to have an authentic experience through the original trail used by the Incas. However, the Inca Trail must be booked in advance due to the limited availability of spaces.
- Another authentic way to get to Machu Picchu is through the Salkantay trek, a trail that takes you through the Andean highlands, reaching up to 4,650 meters above sea level. An unmissable adventure for those looking to immerse themselves in nature and adrenaline.
- For those looking for adventure sports and to be in touch with the exuberant nature of the Peruvian high jungle, the Inca Jungle Trek is the right choice. In this adventure, you’ll bike downhill through the rainforest, lose yourself in adrenaline with the white water rafting activity, and finally make your way through the jungle on a zip-line ride.
2. Trains to Machu Picchu
Train rides are the most in-demand ways to get to Machu Picchu, not only for the transport-wise efficiency but because it goes across the Peruvian highlands, transitioning to the impressive rainforest and its imposing mountains. Likewise, there are different types of trains and routes to reach the famous Machu Picchu town.
- Expedition Train: This tourist-class carriage is one of the most popular train services to get to Machu Picchu. It departs from Cusco, Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes train stations.
- Vistadome Train: For those looking to experience the exuberant nature of the Cusco countryside, this panoramic train offers floor-to-ceiling windows, on-board service, and typical dance shows. It departs from Cusco, Urubamba, Ollantaytambo, and Aguas Calientes train stations.
- Sacred Valley Train: This is one of the most luxurious train rides to get to Machu Picchu. Travel through time in these 1920s-style wagons and experience the best of the Urubamba valley and the Peruvian high jungle.
3. Bus Ride to Machu Picchu
While mentioning the different ways to get to Machu Picchu, we cannot leave bus rides behind. Although it is currently impossible to reach Aguas Calientes by bus, you can easily get to the nearest town to later continue on a 3-hour walk until this famous town. It’s worth mentioning that the bus ride takes about 6 hours from Cusco to Hidroelectrica and it’s not advisable to take this transport option during the rainy season.
It is worth mentioning that to visit Machu Picchu, one must be in Cusco. Therefore, if you’re still looking for the best transport options to visit the Capital of the Inca Empire, then make sure to check these recommendations:
- Visiting Peru by bus is one of the most enriching travel experiences according to many tourists in our country. Optimize your travel experience by exploring Peru like a local expert!
- Train travel is possible through the main attractions of the Andes. Dare to uniquely discover the Peruvian highlands with the Belmond Andean Explorer, where you’ll be immersed in the everlasting beauty of Arequipa, Puno, and Cusco.
- Flights to Cusco are the easiest way to get there. If you’re on a tight schedule, then this is the option for you. Save time to enjoy more of the authenticity of these mystical lands!
Viagens Machu Picchu provides everything you need to have a unique experience through Peru. Don’t miss this chance and get to know our Peru Travel Packages and uncover the mysteries of this South American gem.