Machu Picchu, the ‘Lost City of the Incas’, is the most famous and popular Inca archaeological ruin in the world. Rediscovered on 24 July 1911 by American historian Hiram Bingham. It is spectacularly nestled 2430m above sea level in the Andean mountain range and many questions remain unanswered as to how it came to be there. It is generally thought that the ancient city was probably built around 1450, at around the height of the Inca Empire. No one knows what the real purpose of Machu Picchu was; some speculate it was a prison and some say it was a defensive retreat, but the most common belief is that Machu Picchu was the estate of an Inca emperor.
Much of the wonder of Machu Picchu is how the massive stones could have been hauled the great distances to the site and then be cut with such precision that they fitted together without the need for cement, and then remain standing for so long.
Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
The Inca Trail treks are the only hikes that lead you directly into the Machu Pichu complex.
Classic Inca Trail. Distance: 45 km, average duration: 4 days/3 nights, moderate hike.
Short Inca Trail. Distance: 45 km, average duration: 2 days/1 night, moderate hike. If you are time-poor on your trip to Machu Picchu but still want to experience the Inca Trail hike, this is the one to choose!
Salkantay / Inca Trail. Distance: 56 km, average duration: 8 days/7 nights, strenuous hike. If you are fit, in shape and love a physical challenge this is the one for you.
If you are interested in hiking the Inca Trail check out this Inca Trail Trekking Guide.
Inca Trail Permits
The Inca Trail trek is only operated by licensed trekking companies and there are only 500 permits available per day. You can not be complete this trek without using a registered trekking agency. Permits for the Inca Trail sell out months in advance so it is advised to book at least 6 months prior to your preferred trekking date.
Other Hikes AROUND MACHU PICCHU
And several other hiking trails in the Machu Picchu and Sacred Valley area you may wish to consider:
The Lares Trek. Distance: 33-45 km, average duration: 4 days
The Choquequirao Trek. Distance: 65 km, average duration: 8-10 days
The Vilcabamba Trek. Distance: 62 km, average duration: 5 days
The Huchuy Qosqo Trek. Distance: 20 km, average duration: 3 days
The Quarry Trail. Distance: 26 km, average duration: 4 days
Don’t like hiking? Take the train
Not everyone wants to hike up to Machu Picchu. The alternate way to get there is to take the train. There are two trains that climb most of the way to the ancient Incan citadel—Inca Rail and PeruRail. You’ll need three tickets to get into Machu Picchu: train, bus, and entrance ticket. All trains stop at Aguas Calientes, and buses finish your journey up to Machu Picchu.
We can recommend the Hiram Bingham train journey. The service and cuisine are faultless and the view is breathtaking. On your return trip sip on Pisco Sours and be entertained by musicians playing in the Bar Car. This enchanting journey just tops off your amazing day of exploring the famous citadel.
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Few romances can ever surpass that of the granite citadel on top of the beetling precipices of Machu Picchu, the crown of Inca Land.Hiram Bingham
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