Machu Picchu – The Lost City
The desire to explore more exotic, lesser known destinations was the driving force to make me want to visit Peru. In the past decade this destination has grown in popularity, the third largest behind Brazil and Argentina.
Even before Peru’s move into the spotlight, mention of the country brought one thing to mind: Machu Picchu. The ruins of this stunning 15th-century city tells of the Inca Empire at it’s height and remains the country’s signature attraction. Machu Picchu is a must see at the heart of the tourism industry and it was a must see on my bucket list.
Machu Picchu has something for everyone, for archaeology buffs and for those travelers who have an interest in lost worlds, this destination will not disappoint. I was amazed at the site’s remarkable location, pristine –almost untouched- look, which explains its appeal and the steady stream of tourists.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Machu Picchu stands nearly 8,000 feet above sea level on the eastern slopes of the Andes. The remarkable site is hidden in the dense tropical forests of the upper Amazon basin. The ruins range along the high ridge surrounded on three sides by the Urubamba River. The first sight of Machu Picchu is awe-inspiring, especially since there is no visible clue of its existence from below.
Our tour guide, and I highly recommend you get one, told us that depending on the time of day and the weather, the mountain is sometimes clothed in an eerie mist. On the day we visited it was a picture perfect day and we were able to clearly experience the vast panorama view of massive stone structures, thick walls and winding staircases rising at staggered levels along the side of the mountain. Machu Picchu has around 200 buildings arranged on wide parallel terraces around a huge central square . There are numerous stone stairways set in the walls, which allow for access to the different levels.
The city is roughly divided into an agricultural sector. The most important structures, including the temples, palaces and the main square displays the sites primary archaeological treasures including the Temple of the Sun, The Temple of the Three Windows (with a fantastic view of the Andes in the distance) and a ritualistic carved rock (sun dial) that functions as an astronomical agricultural calendar.
There are a few options for getting to Machu Picchu. You can take the train from Cusco for a day trip to the ruins or take the train to Agua Calientes and overnight in that small town and then take the 20 minute bus ride along a narrow winding road up to the ruins. For the very adventurous, you can set out for a 2 hour hike up the mountain to the ruins. If you are in good physical shape, you can forgo the train ride and hike the challenging trek along the legendary Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, but I warn you it is not for the faint of heart. Machu Picchu, as I mentioned was on my bucket list, the hike was not. The Peruvian government limits the number of hikers on the trail to 500 a day. Guides and advance bookings are mandatory. It helps to visit the ruins early in the morning or late in the afternoon when there are fewer visitors.
I highly recommend this destination, To read more about Machu Picchu, search Google for more websites. To find out about recommended hotels visit: (www.machupicchuhotels-sumaq.com/hotels) To read more about my adventures in Peru and to see comments concerning my visit and my reviews on Trip Advisor#TeacherAgent101
Audrey Hyman is the owner and CEO of the Hyman Travel Network, a full service travel agency located in the suburbs of Washington, that specializes in cruises and all inclusive vacations