Machu Picchu for Beginners


Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

What is Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu is a large complex of ruins.  It is the remains of an important city built by the Incas around 1400.  It’s also called the ’The lost City of the Incas’ and is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Where is Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu is located in the Andean mountains of Peru ,South America.  The nearest substantial city with an airport is called Cusco or Cuzco.  To get to Cusco you need to fly, or take a 22 hour bus,  from Lima, the capital of Peru.

Can I stay at Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu is perched in a stunning location on top of a mountain.  There is just one hotel near the site, or sanctuary. At the bottom of a hill is a town full of hotels called Aguas Calientes.  You can stay in a hotel or hostel in Aguas and then walk, or take a bus up to the site of Machu Picchu.

How can I get to Machu Picchu?

Train route diagram

Train to Machu Picchu

Apart from the very short road between Aguas and Machu Picchu, there are no roads to the site.  You have to take a train or walk.

Most people take the train.  Trains travel from Cusco (or Poroy just outside), through the Sacred Valley,  to Aguas Calientes.  You can get on the train in Poroy, or in Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley.

What is the Inca Trail?

The Inca Trail is a section of Inca pathways that lead to Machu Picchu.  To walk the Inca Trail takes around 3 days and passes many Inca sites along the way.

Many travel agencies now offer ‘Alternative Inca Trails’.  These are treks of 2 days or more that finish around Aguas Calientes.  None of the Alternative Treks finish at Machu Picchu and you will usually have to take a train at some point.  Examples of alternatives are Salkantay, Lares and the Inca Jungle Trail.

What else is there to visit near Machu Picchu?

Cusco is a beautiful historic city that was once an Inca capital.  Between Cusco and Machu Picchu is the Sacred Valley of the Incas, also full of historic sites.  The Amazon jungle is also easy to visit from Cusco.  There is a lot of biking and hiking and arts and crafts in the area.

To see what else there is to do and see in Peru, take a look at Into Latin America


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