THE SOUTHERN AMERICAN SERIES PT16
MACHU PICCHU, PERU
After getting the most of my possessions stolen yesterday, I was sure not to let it get in the way of my travel plans. I hadn’t come all the way to Cusco not to visit Machu Pichu.
I CAN ONLY IMAGE THE SHOCK WHEN THIS PLACE WAS DISCOVERED
Machu Pichu is known as the highlight of South America and anyone who I have spoken to raves about it. As I was visiting in February the trail was closed so I opted for the easy but equally stunning train option.
WHERE IS MACHU PICCHU
Checking out Machu Picchu and Full Guide
There is still a certainl degree of mystery that makes this site so popular. The ruins were only just discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham who was actually the inspiration for Indiana Jones.
It’s not yet known when the site was built or what it’s original use was but it is sepcualted that it was built around the 15thcentury. Due to its location and lack of military presence it laid undiscovered for years. Many believe it to be used as a Royal winter retreat during the cold winters here and built under the Pachacútec ruler.
There are a number of options when it comes to visit this wonder of the world.
The Inca trail is obviously the most well known but equally the most difficult and expensive. Although iconic I didn’t want to commit myself to a certain date here and wanted to remain flexible. You will need to book well in advance for this 5 day hike which is one of the most sought after hikes on the planet. You will pass more than 30 Inca sites and although busy the numbers are restricted.
Other trails include the 4 day Jungle Trek focusing on lush scenery and the 5 day Salkantay Trek which concentrates on incredible views. There are other options for shorter treks so no matter which trail you decide on there is something for anyone.
TRAIN & BUS
Similar to the Trails there are a host of options to choose from here. Inca Rail and Peru Rail are the 2 companies you can book the standard package with. Alternatively if you want a good bit of luxury then I would look into the Hiram Bingham service, think The Orient Express! These trains will only take you as far as the town of Aguas Calientes and from there its either a 30 – 60min hike to the top or a bus. Be sure to check what is included in your ticket.
If you do decide on the train option then be sure and get a guide at the site. There is just so much to learn that only a guide or local would know.
I opted for Inca Rail’s 360 train and it didn’t disappoint. Although if I was the return I would be sure doing one of the trails. Regardless of your option just book as soon as you can, especially I high season.
- Machu Picchu is made up of more than 150 buildings
- It is believed the rocks were pushed up the mountain by hundreds of men.
- The structures were built with a technique called ashlar so there was no need for mortar
- Machu Picchu means old peak.
WHEN TO VISIT
If you don’t like crowds then it is best to avoid the busy months from June to August. This is the best months for weather but also the busiest due to the school holidays. If you want to avoid the wettest months then it is important you don’t go between January and March. However the weather here is hard to call and you can expect 4 seasons in any one day. I would suggest the shoulder months either side of the peak season.
In terms of the time of day well like anywhere its hard to beat sunrise but again it will be busy, there is really no time you can expect to have it to yourself.
WHAT WOULD I DO IF I WAS TO RETURN?
I wasn’t a huge hiker back then and if truth be told still not but when there is an opportunity to hike something like the Inca trail it should be taken. If I was to return I would do the Inca Trail for 5 days and then stay at the local town of Aguas Calientes before hiking Huayna Picchu the following day for view from the other side. It’s really not an experience just to do in one day.
- Don’t forget about Huayna Picchu, it was be much quieter and give you a different perspective than what you will have seen from Machu Picchu.
- Bring water with you.
- Eat before you enter as no food is allowed. There are restaurants in the town.
- Be prepared for sun, wind and rain.
It’s quite breathtaking arriving at the top and like a lot of the wonders of the world I couldn’t help think, “how”? I work in construction so its only natural for me to sit and wonder how they managed to put this all together. There was surprisingly a lot to see here but the crowds were crazy and as I had chosen to take the train I couldn’t be here at a worse time for it. However I was so impressed that the issue of the crowds never really crossed my mind!
- PEOPLE – 7/10
- BACKPACKING – 8/10
- WEATHER – 7/10
- THINGS TO DO – 8/10
- FOOD – 6/10
Sometimes photos can’t do certain things justice and it really takes for you to be there yourself. Machu Picchu was very impressive and is quite rightly considered as one of the modern wonders of the world.
Sand boarding in Huacachina. Click to read.
SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
This post is part of The Southern American Series, click to explore or for episode 1 click here.
- Have you been the Machu Picchu?
- Which option did you choose or which would you choose?
- What is your favourite wonder of the world?
Let me know in the comments below . . .