Friday, November 13, 2015

Machu Picchu: Peru's most visited attraction!

Machu Picchu in Peru!
Machu Picchu or Machu Pikchu is a 15th-century Inca site, high in the Andes of Peru in 2,430 metres above sea level. It is located in the Cusco Region, Machupicchu District in Peru.
It's one of the most familiar symbols of the Incan Empire and also one of the most famous and spectacular sets of ruins in the world.
It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley which is 80 km northwest of Cuzco and through which the Urubamba River flows.
Machu Picchu in Peru!
Machu Picchu in Peru!
Machu Picchu in Peru!
Machu Picchu in Peru!
Machu Picchu in Peru!
Machu Picchu was built in the classical Inca style, with polished dry-stone walls. Its three primary structures are the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows. Most of the outlying buildings have been reconstructed in order to give tourists a better idea of what the structures originally looked like. By 1976, 30% of Machu Picchu had been restored, restoration continues today.
Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll.

Some historical info about this ancient site:
These ruins became known to the scientific world in 1911, after the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham. The story of Machu Picchu is quite a remarkable, it is still unknown exactly what the site was in terms of its place in Inca life. Current researchers tend to believe that Machu Picchu was a country resort for elite Incas. The Incas started building it around 1430 AD, but it was abandoned as an official site for the Inca rulers a hundred years later at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. One thing that is clear is that it was a remarkably well hidden place, and well protected.


Take control of your luggage.

Machu Picchu in Peru!
Machu Picchu in Peru!
Machu Picchu in Peru!
Machu Picchu in Peru!
Machu Picchu in Peru!
Go there:
By bus from Aguas Calientes: If arriving by train into Aguas Calientes, walk out of the station and keep going roughly straight through the warren of handicraft stalls and over a foot bridge to the bus departure area. Frequent buses leave to the ruins. The journey takes around 1/2 hour. Buses depart when full, which typically means they run quite regularly.
By foot from Aguas Calientes: From Aguas Calientes to get to the ruins themselves it is also possible to walk along a similar 8km route, which will take about 1-2 hours up, and around an hour back down. This route is mainly stairs, it is a strenuous and long hike but is very rewarding. The descent is fairly easy, just take care when the steps are wet.
 
By foot via the Inca Trail: Hiking the Inca Trail is a great way to arrive as you first see the city through the Sun Gate. Both the four-day and two-day hikes are controlled by the government. Travellers should be fit enough to walk for days and sleep in tents. Every traveller needs to travel with a tour agency because of the rules and regulations of entering the park. Some of these approved tour agencies: Tierras Vivas, Cusi Travel, Llama Path and Adventure Life.
Alternative treks to Machu Picchu: There are also other options available for hiking to Machu Picchu. Two other optional trek options, but equally as good, are the Salkantay trek and the Inka Jungle trek to Machu Picchu. Most, if not all, tour agencies in Cuzco offer these. 
The Salkantay trek is a 4-5 day trek through the Salkantay Mountain Pass and can also be done independently if you have the gear and some experience. The scenery is amazing and if you go in the rainy season you will be rewarded with dozens of waterfalls.
The Inka Jungle trek to Machu Picchu is an alternative and adrenaline hike to Machu Picchu.
The Lares Trek is a high altitude trek, you will appreciate the Andean Lifestyle, the classic colourful ponchos, Llamas, Alpacas and stone thatched houses. If you don't have much time to hike the Inca Trail 4 days and there aren't any spaces available for the short Inca Trail, you might want to consider the Putucusi trek or Llactapata trek to Machu Picchu.
Other alternative trip to Machu Picchu is by car, is an option for independent travellers wishing to go it alone. Minivans and buses are cheap from "Terminal Santiago" in Cusco.
Santa Maria is further away from Aguas Calientes than Santa Teresa but is a nice option for those wishing to hike an alternative Inca trail used locally.
The Peruvian government has imposed a 500 person pass limit per day on Inca Trail traffic. Travellers must have a valid passport in order to purchase a pass at the time of reservation.
Machu Picchu in Peru!
Machu Picchu in Peru!
Machu Picchu in Peru!
Machu Picchu in Peru!
Machu Picchu in Peru!
Go around:
There are no vehicles of any kind in the park, bring some comfortable walking shoes, especially if you plan to do any of the hikes such as Wayna Picchu. No walking sticks are allowed, but this rule is rarely enforced. The main ruins are fairly compact and easily walkable.


To see:
Take your time walking around the site, as there are many places to see and explore. Although it is not necessary, taking a guided tour does provide a deeper insight into the ancient city.

Sun Gate (Inti Punku): If you've just arrived via the Inka Trail, this will be your first experience of the ruins. From here you can see back down each valley offering excellent views. It's a fairly strenuous hike but well worth it.
Temple of the Sun: Near the summit of the main city, the stonework on the temple is incredible. 

Intihuatana: A stone carved so that on certain days, at dawn, the sun makes a certain shadow, thus working as a sun dial.
Temple of the Three Windows
Main Temple

Temple of the Condor: The tour guides will try to tell you that this was a temple, but look closely: between the wings of the condor is a chamber with grooves cut in the stone to secure manacles, a walkway behind where a torturer may have walked to whip the prisoners' backs, and a scary looking pit to let the blood of prisoners drain. Clearly the condor was a symbol of cruel justice, but a sanitized version is told for the benefit of middle-aged tourists and their children.

To do:
Wayna Picchu. Towering above the south end of Machu Picchu is this steep mountain, often the backdrop to many photos of the ruins. Stone steps are laid along most of the path, and in the steeper sections steel cables provide a supporting handrail. There's a tiny cave near the top that must be passed through, it is quite low and a rather tight squeeze. Take care at the peak, it can be somewhat precarious, and those afraid of heights may want to hang out just below. The entire walk is through beautiful landscape, and the views from the top are stunning, including birds eye views over the whole site. There's also a few ruins near the top. Only 400 people allowed per day to climb the mountain, split into two groups.

If you have some more time, you can also walk to the Moon Temple (Templo de la Luna) and the Great Cave (Gran Caverne). It's a long walk and adventurous hike involving several ladders. Some may find that the sites aren't really rewarding, but unexpected wildlife can be seen. The caves can be reached either by hiking down the trail from the peak of Huayna Picchu or by the split from the main Wayna Picchu trail. Remember that it is much easier to descend from Wayna Picchu than to ascend from these temples. Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks for this long hike. The hike from the summit to the caves and back to the checkpoint takes about two more hours.

A visit to Peru would not be complete without seeing it!

UNESCO ~ Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu in Peru!
Machu Picchu in Peru!
Machu Picchu in Peru!
Machu Picchu in Peru!
Machu Picchu in Peru!
Machu Picchu in Peru!

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