Machu Picchu also known as ‘The lost city of the Incas’ probably sits on the very top of every traveler’s bucket list. It is estimated that the Incan citadel was built around 1430 AD. It was apparently used by the Incas as the seat of rule for only about a century or so. It is speculated that the city was largely used as a contemplative/educational place of sorts for elite Incas.
Surprisingly, the lost city was not discovered till as late as the early 20th century. Being nestled deep within mountains and valleys, the Spanish conquistadors appear to have not made its discovery. It therefore escaped plunder and further ruin as was the fate of several Inca cities on Spanish conquest. It was only found in 1911 by American archaeologist Hiram Bingam. We suggest hiring a guide during your visit to the ruins as they usually are a minefield of tidbits not usually provided by guidebooks.
Our friendly and rather garrulous guide informed us, “A goatherd and his family used to live here. He already knew of these ruins, so technically he is the first one to have known of the existence of this site. But it was Hiram who brought Machu Picchu to the world at large during his explorations in this part of the world.”
Designated in 2007 as one of the new seven wonders of the world, this UNESCO World Heritage site is thought to be a sacred place, used as a place of education and confluence of high culture. Though at this point it is still conjecture and it has never been conclusively determined what the complex was used for. The site has various interesting temples and astounding examples of ancient architecture made with perfectly placed stones and absolutely no cementing material of any sort. It has a whopping 150 buildings ( many intact) including baths, temples, houses etc. The temple of the sun and Room of three windows are some of the highlights of this ancient site.
After exploring the ruins themselves, visitors can opt to climb montana Machu Picchu for superb views of the entire complex and the surrounding mountains. In Quechua, Machu Picchu means ‘old peak’ or ‘old mountain”. You can also climb the mountain opposite Wayna picchu. 2,500 tickets are issued for entry into Machu Picchu a day and costs 75 USD for foreign adults. A discounted entrance is offered to students with an ISIC card For 50 USD. You can purchase tickets online or in person in Cusco or Aguas Calientas.
You can purchase your ticket in combination with Montana Machu Picchu ( 80 USD) or Wayna Picchu ( 84 USD). The views from Montana Machu Picchu are apparently better than Wayna Picchu of the ruins but most choose Wayna is it is an easier climb. We opted to climb Montana Macchu Picchu, the mountain next to the ruins from which the ancient city derives its name. The views are simply stunning. A limited number of tickets are available to climb the mountain and many times sell out very quickly. Book early. For Wayna Picchu, only 400 climbers allowed and are split in two batches. Check the time on your ticket and be sure to be there in time.
You can buy tickets here- http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe/
….to be continued
Feature image- Sunset at Machu Picchu. Image courtesy-KasperKay/Shutterstock.com