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Travel Guide for Machu Picchu

The Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu is considered a masterpiece of engineering and architecture. It was built in the middle of the 15th century and it is believed to be one of the residences of the ninth Inca of Tahuantinsuyo, Pachacútec.

It is located 2,453 meters above sea level in the province of Urubamba, a district of Machu Picchu and 80 km northwest of the city of Cusco.

Currently, it is one of the main tourist destinations in the country and since 2007 it is considered as one of the wonders of the modern world.

Every year, millions of travelers come to visit this hidden gem in the middle of two mountains, to delight in its impressive architecture, observe its wonderful landscapes and recharge with the energy of the place, as it is believed that this citadel was also the scene of important ceremonies. In our Destination Guide Machu Picchu, you will find all the information you need to get an in-depth knowledge of this important tourist destination.

Machu Picchu on a cloudy day and Urubamba river | RESPONSible Travel Peru
Machu Picchu and Urubamba (Vilcanota) river

Introduction

The historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu has been considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983 and is one of the 12 most visited national parks in the world. Built in the middle of two mountains: Machu Picchu (old mountain) and Huayna Picchu (young mountain), the archeological site houses countless years of history and culture that seems to still be alive in its impressive stone buildings.

During the Inca Empire, Machu Picchu was an important urban and religious center. This is demonstrated by the finely polished stone constructions in which the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Moon and the Temple of the 3 Windows stand out.

In total there are approximately 196 points of interest within the citadel among archaeological complexes, squares, temples, monuments, and residences; all in harmony with the natural environment.

Llama at Machu Picchu

What we reccomend for you

There are two ways to get to Machu Picchu. You can access by train from the city of Cusco or from the Sacred Valley of the Incas to the town of Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo) and from there you can go up on foot or by bus to the citadel. You can also hike to access this wonder, choosing between many different hiking routes. The best known are the Inca Trail, Salkantay Trek, Choquequirao Trek, Lares Trek, among others. But our favorite is the Coffee Route: with this option, you will leave from Ollantaytambo, you will pass from the heights of Abra Málaga to the cloud forest where you will start a walk that will allow you to enjoy beautiful and little-traveled roads while you share with coffee families in the area.

Once at Machu Picchu, the guided tour will take approximately 2 and a half hours. During the tour you will visit the different temples, you will pass through the quarry from where they excavated the stones with which they built the citadel and you will ascend to the famous Intihuatana pyramid. We recommend that you also take the walk to the “Inca Bridge” or ascend to “Puerta del Sol”. For an additional cost at your entrance, you can climb one of the mountains that surround the citadel. From the mountains Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu you can get a panoramic view of the site. The difference? The former can be steeper and busier; while the second is friendlier and less popular.

If you have time you can visit the Mandor gardens; this is the hidden gem of Aguas Calientes that very few tourists know about. Just 1 hour’s walk along the train tracks you can reach a botanical garden that has more than 200 species of orchids. Thanks to the proliferation of plants and flowers there are more than 500 species of butterflies, some are only native to this region of Peru. Crowned by the landscape, the Mandor Falls are the main attraction of the gardens. It is a waterfall up to 8 meters high. However, we don’t recommend people enter for safety reasons.

The “veil” of water at the end of a 1 Km walk is the final reward after many many surprises along the way

It is always a good time to visit Machu Picchu, but during the rainy months (January to March) it is most likely that the sunrises will be cloudy and the visibility of the impressive mountains and walls within the enclosure is difficult. In some cases, accessibility may be temporarily restricted by landslides.

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ABOUT RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL PERU

RESPONS’ mission is to improve living conditions in Peru through developing and promoting sustainable tourism. We’ve implemented a business model in which all areas of human relations are respected, and - equally important - respect for the planet is incorporated.

Following this business model, we practice fair trade, foster cultural identity, promote equal opportunities, and we preserve the environment that surrounds us and other species.

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