A virtual tour and travel guide of Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail in Peru. Travel resources for the traveler.
Machu Picchu Vacation
Machu Picchu vacations conjure images of the isolate stone ruins surrounded by mists and the steep peaks of the Andes. They're the iconic destination when travelers consider a trip to Peru, but a relatively new one at that. In 1911, one American professor changed tourism in Peru forever. Hiram Bingham was led by a local boy to the overgrown site of Machu Picchu. The first book he wrote about the site was called The Lost City of the Incas, and a new tourist destination was born. In the 1980s, UNESCO named Machu Picchu a World Heritage Site, and adventurous travelers across the globe began to plan trips to hike the Inca Trail and explore the archaeological site. Thanks to relatively recent development in the area, planning your trip is easier than ever. Whether you want to spend a few days hiking on your approach to Machu Picchu or want to join a luxury tour, this fascinating archaeological site will leave you breathless.
In most cases, Machu Picchu trips begin in Cusco. This city, which was once the capital of the Incan empire, is located approximately 50 miles from Machu Picchu and is the destination where visitors spend a couple days to acclimate to the elevation. Machu Picchu is located high in the Andes Mountains, and many visitors who skip this step wind up experiencing altitude sickness. From Cusco, your Machu Picchu vacation can take many turns. Some travelers choose to take the train that connects Cusco to Aguas Calientes, the closest town to the site, where many hotels and restaurants will make tourists comfortable for a night or two while exploring Machu Picchu.
Other visitors choose to join a bus tour in Cusco and make a visit to Machu Picchu a day trip. The downside to this type of Machu Picchu trips is only visiting the site during peak hours and missing out on what many consider to be the best experience: seeing the site at sunrise. If you're intent on making this sight a part of your trip, the best place to stay is the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge. It's the only hotel located right in the shadow of the lost city, and offers the incredible opportunity to see it both at sunrise and under the moonlight. This hotel is also complete with an excellent restaurant.
If your travel style is more adventurous, you might want to plan a Machu Picchu vacation that includes hiking. Many travelers choose to begin their hiking trip in Cusco, and march along the Inca Trail to reach Machu Picchu. There are various types of trekking tours, some which include camping while others include hotel stays. The lush jungle surrounding Machu Picchu is so gorgeous that you will barely notice you are hiking for hours each day of your tour. Travelers interested in shorter hiking tours can choose one- or two-day options too.
Before embarking on any of these tours, you might want to consider purchasing travel insurance. Just in case of any medical emergency (from altitude sickness to a sprained ankle) you will be glad to be covered. Before you embark on Machu Picchu trips, read up on a little history to prepare yourself for the journey. Even if you're traveling on a budget, once you reach Machu Picchu it is worth hiring a tour guide. These knowledgeable guides can help you interpret everything you see in the lost city. While it is completely possible to explore independently, a guide might shed light on elements of Machu Picchu you would otherwise miss.