Travel is invigorating and can be life changing-adventure travel takes it up a notch.
What makes Machu Picchu Adventurous? Poisonous snakes, narrow very high trails, old bridges, slippery rocks. Eating cuy.
Some locations combine such amazing sights that they are listed as one of the World Heritage Sites. Machu Picchu is one of those amazing places-and is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. The history of the site is rich, you will learn about the Inca Empire at its peak. The construction and engineering feats needed to build the sanctuary are awe inspiring as are the views.
Machu Picchu is located in Peru and was built approximately 500 years ago and ‘discovered’ in 1911. Native Peruvians knew the site which historians believe was hidden to protect it from the invading Spanish.
How to get there-You can hike the legendary Inca trail or you can take the train, both beautiful options. If you take the train from Cuzco the journey through the Sacred Valley is a destination unto itself. Ollantaytambo is a wonderful overnight stop. The views are astonishing and the on- site ruins worth a visit.
We visited in November which turned out to be a great time to visit the site. Our daily tours, both guided and self-directed usually began in the early AM. You can visit at sunrise for a beautiful and special experience.
We split our two days there between a day with a guided tour for our group followed by exploration on our own with the goal of covering the entire site. Our guide was helpful in teaching us about the history of the site and added local cultural information. One interesting item we learned is that if you are thinking of hiking to the base of Macchu Picchu from Aguas Callenties, think twice- the viper population is high along the trail. Snakes in this region are poisonous. We had two close calls on our trails and opted out of the hike from the town below.
We were lucky enough to see a condor on our hike to Inca Bridge. It is a very narrow trail carved from steep peaks, remember OSHA does not exist here and watch your step. The views and visuals of Condor’s nesting were very impressive.
Day two we especially enjoyed a hike to Intipunku (Gateway of the Sun) and Machu Picchu Mountain with views looking down on Huayna Picchu a popular mountain to ascend that only allows 400 hikers per day. 400 sounded like a lot so we chose to skip the crowds and go on our own. The hikes can be strenuous, we are all Colorado hikers so we did not encounter much difficulty other than narrow trails carved from the side of steep mountains which can test those with even a bit of fear of heights.
The Peruvians we encountered were lovely people eager to share their culture and proud of their heritage. The landscape and architecture are beautiful, the history fascinating.
Travel tips-Plan ahead, these sites can be crowded and book up early. Prepare for altitude-Cusco sits at 11,150 feet. Stop and see the local ruins, markets, city squares, people watching is fun in South America. Shopping is rewarding as well if you look for local specialties such as jewelry and alpaca and vicuna clothing.
We hired an outfitter to arrange the trip for us since we were a group of six traveling together. Our outfitter gathered information about our itinerary, interests, timing and appetite for adventure in planning a lovely trip for us. Many of the hotels are beautiful and restaurants plentiful.