Machu Picchu is, without a doubt, one of the most awe-inspiring archaeological sites that you can visit. Even people who aren’t particularly interested in history will find it fascinating, if only for its location. Perched atop a mountain and surrounded up other peaks and valleys, the view is truly breathtaking.
There’s also something about the way you have to get there- either by foot or by train- that makes it feel like a pilgrimage. And yet, it can also feel like a theme park if you’re not careful in planning your visit.
The site has been named one of the new wonders of the world and, as a result, many people have put it on their bucket lists. But this is likely going to be your once in a lifetime tour to Machu Picchu, ancient citadel of the Incas. You want more out of your visit here than to check something off a list.
Arriving first thing in the morning when the site opens at 6 am is the perfect way to begin. Take the time to appreciate not only the surrounding nature but also how beautifully Machu Picchu fits within it. Imagine the effort that went into building such an amazing structure in that location, using techniques that are still unable to be duplicated today.
To get to Machu Picchu, you must take a train from Cusco or the Sacred Valley (a total journey of around 3.5 to 4 hours) to Aguas Calientes, the town nearest Machu Picchu. From there, a shuttle bus will take you the 20 minutes to reach the site. (Please pay attention to the conservation regulations of the sanctuary as detailed on your ticket.)
Alternatively, you can trek to Machu Picchu via either the Inca Trail or the Salkantay Trek. The Inca Trail will take you directly into the archaeological site while Salkantay will take you into Aguas Calientes. However, there is an optional version of the Salkantay trek which has you staying at luxurious lodges as opposed to camping each night for those who want to spend time in nature but prefer a luxury tour to Machu Picchu.
The Inca Trail
There’s no doubt that you will feel like you’ve achieved something once you’ve completed the four day Inca Trail. It can be mentally and physically exhausting as you hike up steep stone steps, retracing the pilgrimage that the Incas would have made to reach your ultimate destination of Machu Picchu, especially at altitude. But entering through the Sun Gate in the morning of the 4th day makes it all worthwhile.
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