Machu Picchu Tours
Awe-inspiring, spectacular, massive, remote, mystical, there just aren’t enough adjectives to describe Machu Picchu, one of the ultimate destinations in Latin America. In a 2007 Internet poll, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. So let’s list a few facts instead. It was built sometime in the 15th century on a mountain ridge, 2,430 metres above sea level, overlooking a sacred valley through which the Urubamba River flows. It is believed to have been built by the Emperor Pachacútec Inca Yupanqui, with its structures carefully aligned with the stars. Much of the city is composed of massive stone blocks cut so that they fit together tightly without mortar. You can’t get a blade of grass between them. A sophisticated earthquake-resistant building technique was used, including inwardly tilting trapezoidal windows. No one has yet worked out exactly how the Incas did it.
Machu Picchu sat at the centre of an Inca road system – today you can follow part of it as an adventure tourism route on the Inca Trail. The city was inhabited for about a century, and then abandoned, again, no one knows exactly why. Known by the locals, it was ‘rediscovered’ in 1911 by US historian and explorer Hiram Bingham. The Peruvian government has given it Historical Sanctuary status and UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site in 1983.
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The Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu
The Inca trail must be up there on every adventurer’s bucket list. It’s a world-famous hike taking in some of the planet’s most spectacular scenery as it winds its way through the high Andes to the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu. Covering a distance of approximately 45kms and taking 4 days/3 nights to complete, you’ll pass through varied mountain terrain, crossing high mountain passes close to the snow line and camping out under the stars. Parts of the journey you’ll be walking along original cobbled pathways used by the ancient Incas themselves many centuries ago.
Finally, you’ll approach the Sun Gate, high above Machu Picchu, and enjoy an incredible panoramic view of the Inca Citadel, as well as a real sense of personal achievement having adventured though the Andes to this amazing place.
Day 1: Cusco to Huayllabamba
You’ll have an early pick-up from your hotel for the drive to the starting point of the trek. Once there you’ll meet the team, including your fellow hikers, guides, chefs and porters. This first day of hiking is quite gentle, taking us along the Vilcanota River to the Patallacta archaeological site. After lunch we’ll continue to Huayllabamba where we’ll set up camp for the night.
Day 2: Huayllabamba to Pacaymayo
Today you’ll get an early start and a hearty breakfast to set you up for the most challenging day of the trek. You’ll be hiking to the highest point of the trail today, to the mountain pass of Warmhiuanusca at 4200m. The views from up here are incredible, with panoramic vistas of snowy peaks disappearing into the distance. After taking in the views, you’ll descend to the valley of Pacaymayo where we’ll set up camp for the night.
Day 3: Pacaymayo to Winaywayna
After a hearty breakfast this morning we’ll get back on the path and hike through the Runkuracay archaeological ruins and on to the mountain pass of the same name at 3900m. Dropping back down, we’ll visit the Sayacmarca ruins and break for lunch before making Winaywayna, our last camp on the Inca Trail.
Day 4: Winaywayna to Machu Picchu
Today is the big day! After breakfast we’ll hike to Intipunka, the Sun Gate, where you’ll be met with spectacular panoramic views of Machu Picchu. Bathed in the morning light of the Andes and seen from above, this is one of the very best spots to take in the citadel in all its glory.
For preservation purposes, the Peruvian government has limited the number of people that can access the Inca Trail. Our Salkantay trek is a great, coffee-flavoured alternative.