Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Cultural site, is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
Perched high upon a ridge at 7,970 feet above sea level, the majestic Inca City of Machu Picchu is one of the most dramatic settings of a ruined city anywhere in the world. Almost as impressive as the ruins themselves is the spectacular backdrop of steep, lush, and often cloud-shrouded mountains.
Hiram Bingham came across Machu Picchu in 1911 and believed until his death that it was the “Lost City of the Incas,” first documented by Spanish soldiers in the 1500s.
The journey is also part of the experience of visiting Machu Picchu, whether it’s by hiking the Inca Trail or seeing the route by train. In either case, it’s impossible not to be inspired by the scenery.
The Inca Trail is perhaps the most well-known, and iconic, way to reach the citadel. Taking 4 days and 3 nights, the hike along ancient Incan pathways passes through outstanding scenery of Andean peaks, steep mountain passes and incredible cloud forests, not to mention a landscape full of centuries-old ruins that only those hiking can view. But the real highlight? Reaching Machu Picchu and entering at sunrise – an experience we guarantee will stay into your memory forever.
The Inca Trail isn’t the only trek that leads to Machu Picchu. Other options are the Salkantay and Lares routes, which offer equally impressive scenery with the benefit of far fewer tourists.
There are regular trains run by Peru Rail, Inca Rail and Machu Picchu Train leaving either from Poroy, Urubamba or Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley which we can combine with road transfers to/from your hotel in Cuzco.
The luxurious Hiram Bingham service run by Peru Rail offers brunch on the way there and dinner on the way back.
The Presidential class carriage on the Inca Rail service has capacity for just eight passengers and includes an excellent menu and panoramic views.
For those wanting more time to fully appreciate this world masterpiece, we recommend a stay in Machu Picchu Town (formerly Aguas Calientes). There is only a small selection of hotels here, however, so early booking is strongly recommended!
There is only one hotel located at the actual Machu Picchu site – the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge. One of the biggest benefits of staying in this beautiful hotel is the ability to beat the crowd’s first thing in the morning and explore this incredible site in (almost) solitude.
From Aguas Calientes, the town below Machu Picchu, a bus takes you up to Machu Picchu, about a 20-minute drive along a harrowing switchback road. It is possible to walk up this road to the site, but this is a long, uphill climb and not recommended.