AREQUIPA

Take a luxury trip to Machu Picchu, the famous jewel of the Incas, located in the middle of the Peruvian Andes, 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of Cusco; discovered in 1911 during a scientific expedition made by Hiram Bingham. It is also considered as the best-known archaeological site in the continent. This is the one thing you cannot possibly miss during your trip to Peru! So why not take a luxury Machu Picchu tour. On a luxury trip to Machu Picchu by train or by a Machu Picchu luxury hiking tour on the Inca trail; you will be surrounded by beautiful scenery and breathtaking views of the Andes Mountains. The train trip ends in Aguas Calientes, which is a small town located 8 km from the Inca site by car or bus. Or is you decide on the Inca trail it usually takes about 3 days and you will arrive directly to the archeological site on foot. Once there, after admiring all the many ruins and walking through the narrow labyrinth of streets, the visitor can look forward to visiting Huayna Picchu from which the view of the Inca citadel is just breathtaking.

FEATURED LUXURY ITINERARIES IN MACHU PICCHU

I sink under the weight of the splendour of these visions!A wonderful serenity has taken possession of my entire soul, like these sweet mornings of spring which

John Mcarthy

HISTORY

Machu Picchu is not mentioned in any of the chronicles of the Spanish conquistadors. Apart from a couple of German adventurers in the 1860s, who apparently looted the site with the Peruvian government’s permission, nobody apart from local Quechua people knew of Machu Picchu’s existence until American historian Hiram Bingham was guided to it by locals in 1911. You can read Bingham’s own account of his ‘discovery” in the classic book Inca Land: Explorations in the Highlands of Peru, first published in 1922.

Bingham was searching for the lost city of Vilcabamba, the last stronghold of the Incas, and he thought he had found it at Machu Picchu.

MACHU PICCHU RUINS

This great 15th-century Inca citadel sits at 2430m on a narrow ridgetop above the Río Urubamba. Traditionally considered a political, religious and administrative center, new theories suggest that it was a royal estate designed by Pachacutec, the Inca ruler whose military conquests transformed the empire. Trails linked it to, the Inca capital of Cusco and important sites in the jungle. As invading Spaniards never discovered it, experts still dispute when the site was abandoned and why.

At its peak, Machu Picchu was thought to have some 500 inhabitants. An engineering marvel, its famous Inca walls have polished stone fitted to stone, with no mortar in between. The citadel took thousands of laborers 50 years to build today its cost of construction would exceed a billion US dollars.

Making it habitable required leveling the site, channeling water from high mountain streams through stone canals and building vertical retaining walls that became agricultural terraces for corn, potatoes and coca. The drainage system also helped combat heavy rains (diverting them for irrigation), while east-facing rooftops and farming terraces took advantage of maximum sun exposure.

The site is a magnet to mystics, adventurers and students of history alike. While its function remains hotly debated. the essential grandeur of Machu Picchu is       indisputable.


INSIDE THE COMPLEX

Unless you arrive via the Inca Trail, you’ll officially enter the ruins through a ticket gate on the south side of Machu Picchu. About 100m of footpath brings you to the maze-like main entrance of Machu Picchu proper, where the ruins lie stretched out before you, roughly divided into two areas separated by a series of plazas.

Note that the names of individual ruins speculate their use – in reality, much is unknown. To get a visual fix of the whole site and snap the classic postcard photograph, climb the zigzagging staircase un the left immediately after entering the complex, which leads to the Hut of the Caretaker.


INTIPUNKU

The Inca trail ends after its final descent from the notch in the horizon called Intipunku (Sun Gate; heckpoint closes around 3pm). Looking at the hill behind you as you enter the ruins, you can see both the trail and  Intipunku. This  hill,  called Machu Picchu (Old peak), gives the site its name.

Access here from Machu Picchu ruins may be restricted. It takes about an hour to reach Intipunku. If you can spare at least a half-day for the round-trip, it may be possible to continue as far as Wiñay Wayna. Expect to pay S15 or more as an unofficial reduced-charge admission fee to the Inca Trail, and be sure to return before 3pm, which is when the checkpoint typically closes.


INCA DRAWBRIDGE

A scenic but level walk from the Hut of the Caretaker of the Funerary Rock takes you right past the top of the terraces and out along a narrow, cliff-clinging trail to the Inca drawbridge. In under a half-hour’s walk, the        trail gives you a good look at cloud-forest vegetation and an entirely different view of Machu Picchu. This walk is recommended, though you’ll have to be content with photographing the bridge from a distance, as someone crossed the bridge some years ago and tragically fell to their death.

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