Machu Picchu is a highlight on almost everyone’s vacation in Peru. It is one of the most amazing ruins in the world and is also the goal of our Classic Inca Trail trek.
The ‘Lost City’ was built around 1450 by the Inca emperor Pachacuti as essentially a getaway vacation estate. It was used for about 120 years, until the Spanish invaders threatened the Incas, who fled deeper into the Amazon jungle. Because of this, the site was left undisturbed for hundreds of years, with only a few locals even knowing it existed. It wasn’t until 1911 that explorer Hiram Bingham found the ruins, eventually opening it up to exploration and ultimately tourism.
Machu Picchu is a large set of ruins divided into an Agricultural and Urban sector. Incredible stonework, the remains of a quarry, open fields, several sacred rocks, and many connected buildings are among the highlights of the ruins. Some of our travelers prefer just to sit and take in the amazing scene while others explore the site either on their own or with our local guide. It is also possible to attempt the somewhat scary climb to the top of Huayna Picchu, a nearby peak.
There are only two ways to reach the official site. Most tourists take the train running from Cusco and Ollantaytambo along the Urubamba River. The train has three levels of service (backpacker, Vista Dome, and Hiram Bingham) and runs several times per day. The train actually ends in the small town of Aguas Calientes (recently renamed Machu Picchu Pueblo), from which a bus runs frequently up to and down from the site, located on a ridge above the town. It is possible to take the train into Machu Picchu in the morning and out again in the afternoon. However, many people prefer to stay overnight in Aguas Calientes.
The other method of reaching Machu Picchu is by foot via the Inca Trail. The Classic Inca Trail finishes at the Sun Gate, an entrance to the ruins. It is possible to enter via the Sun Gate from the Inca Trail and walk down through the historical site without having or using a ticket to Machu Picchu. We do this on our Peru tours and return the following day (refreshed and showered). All those who hike in on the Inca Trail return via the train.
Machu Picchu will be a highlight of your trip to Peru. Join us on a private Machu Picchu & Inca Trail Trek or our Easier Inca Trail one-day adventure with your own group of as few as two people. We also have a group Machu Picchu & Inca Trail Trek just for women to take on the challenge together.