The Ultimate Bucket List Destination: Machu Picchu

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( — October 5, 2018) — The UNESCO World Heritage site, located in Peru, sits at 2,430 meters above sea level and is surrounded by an unbelievably beautiful mountain range. Machu Picchu is an awe inspiring Inca ruin in the sky in the middle of a tropical mountain forest. The beauty of its setting is hard to describe to those who have not seen it.

It is probably one of the most ambitious urban creations of the Inca Empire, set on the eastern slopes of the Andes. However, with Peruvian authorities now restricting the number of visitors in a move to try and protect deterioration of the monument, it is more important than ever to carefully plan your visit, or risk being disappointed. A maximum limit of 5940 people per day are allowed entrance to the complex, but demand far outstrips this. So prepare in advance for your experience of a lifetime.

Why is this the must see location in the world?   

The architecture of the Incas is amazing. The genius of their precision and engineering at a time long before modern tools is truly something to behold. The stones are cut to such precision that they slot together tightly without any mortar. The structures have survived everything from earthquakes, incremental weather and the footfall of millions of tourists. The brilliance of the Incas, and their culture is easy to see here. And it is worth remembering that at the height of its empire, the civilisation stretched from Peru to Ecuador, across Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and parts of Colombia.

If that doesn’t impress you, then the view most certainly will. At such a height, the view across the terrain will take your breath away. You can also take the opportunity to trek the Inca Trail which will take you through this landscape.

It will truly be an adventure of epic proportions and a chance to see a thriving local culture like nothing else in the world. The mix of Peruvian and Andean traditions will change your whole outlook on life.

Where did Machu Picchu come from?

Originally built in around 1450, the site became abandoned about 100 years later, most likely due to the destruction caused by the Spanish conquistadors across South America. It is believed that many inhabitants were likely killed by diseases such a smallpox, brought over from Europe, against which the population had no immunity. 

Although well known to locals, it didn’t come to the full attention of the wider world until around 1911 until visited by the American historian Hiram Bingham. General consensus among modern historians is that the site was a royal estate for the Incan emperor.

Planning your visit in advance is the only way to see it

The best way to see Machu Picchu, and be sure to have enough time to really appreciate it is to plan a proper Machu Picchu vacation over 6 days. This will mean not only seeing the great Machu Picchu itself, but also many other amazing tourist attractions in the Cusco area, such as Tipon (the Sistine Chapel of the Americas), Andahuaylillas, Moray, Ollantaytambo, Pisac, Sacsayhuaman, Tambomachay, Salineras and much more. 

Whether you are a seasoned traveller, or a first time adventurer, the best option is to find a package that can manage all aspects of the trip, and guarantee you restricted access to the heritage site. 

For example airport transfers, meals, accommodation and guided tours are often catered for, meaning you get the absolutely most out of your time there.

Try to pick your visit between April and December, as January to March is typically the rainy season.

What if you only have one day? 

When backpacking your way around the world, sometimes one day is all you have. But do not worry, it won’t mean having to miss out because a Machu Picchu day trip is entirely possible, all you need is around 16 spare hours and a sense of adventure. 

By booking in advance you can get picked up from your hotel and chauffeured to Ollantaytambo train station, before taking the scenic train journey to Aguas Calientes. From there, a bus will take you up to Machu Picchu for a guided tour in English or Spanish, as you prefer.

After taking the train from Cusco, you willl head up to Machu Picchu via this very scenic route, culminating in a private guided tour of the site itself lasting around 3 hours, in English or your chosen language, lunch included and then comes the return journey.

What to take with you on your visit

A good dose of common sense will get you far. Remember that this is in a mountain jungle terrain. As well as the usual accessories such as passport, flight details and health insurance, you need to make sure you are comfortable in these conditions so that you can relax and enjoy it.

The weather can be very hot and humid, or cool and raining. So be prepared for both. Take waterproof clothing, and something warm. You can always just keep it in your rucksack just in case. 

Even when it is warm, long sleeves and trousers are better than t-shirt and shorts to protect the skin from bites or scratches. And of course rule number 1 – look after your feet. Good clean socks, a spare pair if you can, plasters and the most important of all, a good pair of hiking boots or shoes that are worn enough to support you and be comfortable. 

It is also important to stay hydrated, so take a water bottle. You might also want to consider anti-inflammatory tablets like ibuprofen. Add to that sunglasses, sunblock and camera with plenty of battery life and you are good to go.

What are you waiting for? Get out there and tick this amazing destination off your to do list, before it is gone forever.