Today we explore the pinnacle of Inca engineering – Machu Picchu. We will set out as early as possible to catch one of the first buses to the Sanctuary to beat the crowds.
For years, Machu Picchu was lost to the jungle. Rediscovered in 1911 by the Yale professor Hiram Bingham, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, Machu Picchu exceeds all expectations.
This astounding site lies in an even more astonishing location. Perched high on an inaccessible hilltop it is protected by huge cliffs and the raging Urubamba river. Things are slightly easier now than in the time of the Incas and so you start your day with a twenty minute bus ride up to the site.
The guided tour takes around two hours leaving you a few hours free to wander amongst the old Inca walls and just sit and take in the scale of the place on your own. For those who want to walk a bit more, you could take the hour long trail up to the Sun Gate, or a shorter trail to visit the Inca Bridge which once spanned a sheer cliff face.
Eventually the time comes to catch the bus down to Machu Picchu Pueblo and board your train back along the Urubamba River. The scenery is beautiful and the train jolts softly along, allowing you to sit, stare out the window and reflect on all you have seen.
Your entrance to Machu Picchu includes a permit to climb Huayna Picchu. This two hour round trip is up steep, exposed steps and not for the feint-hearted. However the rewards for your efforts is a truly unique and awe-inspiring “condor’s eye” view of the ruins. Well worth it if you can. This has set-departure times .
Lunch today is at the Indi Feliz – The best independent restaurant in Aguas Calientes.
After lunch we will catch a train back to Cusco.