The spectacular Inca City of Machu Picchu, perched high on a ridge 300 metres above the Urubamba River, is one of the most striking settings of a ruined city anywhere in the world. The breathtaking backdrop of steep, lush, and often cloud-shrouded mountains is almost as impressive as the ruins themselves.
Standing at the caretaker’s cabin with a view of Machu Picchu, the jungle-covered mountains, and the river far below, it’s easy to see why the Incas picked this location for their city.
Hiram Bingham discovered Machu Picchu in 1911 and thought it was the “Lost City of the Incas,” first chronicled by Spanish soldiers in the 1500s, until his death. Historians believe the genuine Inca lost city was at Espritu Pampa, a site Bingham was aware of but dismissed as inconsequential.
Whether trekking the Inca Trail or witnessing the route by train, the travel is an important element of the Machu Picchu experience. It’s impossible not to be inspired by the surroundings in any situation. Trains run to Aguas Calientes from Cusco, Ollantaytambo, and Urubamba.
A bus from Aguas Calientes, the town below Machu Picchu, transports you up to Machu Picchu, which is about a 20-minute trip through a hairpin road. Walking up this road to the site is possible, but it is a long, steep trip that is not recommended.
Machu Pichu has new entrance requirements that go into effect in January 2020. You must tour with a guide, follow a pre-determined tour itinerary, and enter the park at a specific time.
The peak season is from June to August, but the two months before and after that have pleasant weather and are an excellent time to come because there are fewer tourists.