Visiting Hours: From Monday to Sunday, 6:00 to 17:30
With more than 35 thousand hectares, the Incan citadel of Machu Picchu is acknowledged as Cultural and Natural Heritage of the Humanity by UNESCO. It is known that the sanctuary has more than 300 species of birds and near 200 types of orchids recorded. There are different ways to access the citadel, both through the Camino Inca (Inca trail), which implies a route that may last hours or days- depending on the departure point- and by train or helicopter. The train journey lasts about four hours and includes appreciating a wonderful landscape. However, the train carriages do not have accessible restrooms. The fastest and most comfortable alternative is going by helicopter, which can be accessed from the Aeropuerto Internacional Velasco Astete.



  These two alternatives, train and helicopter, are complemented in Aguas Calientes with the service of buses, which travel through the Hiram Bingham road, named after the explorer that discovered the so-called "lost city" in 1911. Although the Historic Sanctuary of Macchu Picchu cannot be modified since it is Heritage of the Humanity, it is possible to go through great part of the place by means of the assistance of a duly qualified team of persons. Do not let the thirteen staircases leading to the ticket office discourage you, since many parts of the archaeological site are only accessible ascending numerous stone staircases. A considerable part of the route is facilitated by the existence of cultivation terraces, which are constructions with agricultural aims that belonged to ancient Peruvians.
One of the most amazing areas that can be visited with the assistance of trained personnel is the Temple of Three Windows, which offers a panoramic view of the place. The ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu is the star attraction of Cuzco, the citadel is deemed one of the world's finest examples of landscape architecture. It is split into two major areas: the agricultural zone, made up of terracing and food storehouses; and the urban zone, featuring the sacred sector, with temples, squares and royal tombs which have been carved to an extraordinary degree of perfection. The stone staircases and canals are found throughout this unique archaeological site. Over the citadel looms Huayna Picchu ("young mountain" in Quechua), which can be climbed up a steep stone-paved trail.

  Located in the department of Cuzco , the Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary protects unique species of flora and fauna, as well as featuring some breath-taking landscapes and preserving the archaeological sites to be found here. Much of the beauty and enchantment of Machu Picchu , Peru 's premier tourist attraction, is due to its spectacular natural surroundings: the cloud forest region of this historic sanctuary.
Machu Picchu is home to some striking species, such as the cock-of-the-rocks (Peru 's national bird) and the spectacled bear, the only bear species in South America . The area is also inhabited by the rare dwarf deer called sachacabra and the Huemal deer, plus more than 300 bird species. The area boasts a large variety of flora species, with some 200 species of orchids registered here to date.
Towering over the area is Mount Salkantay (6,271 meters), the highest mountain in the Cordillera Vilcanota range, worshipped by the locals as an apu mountain spirit. Machu Picchu combines a spectacular natural setting with the attraction of the world's most famous pre-Hispanic sites.
Machu Picchu "old mountain" in Quechua, the ancient language of the Incas) nestles on top of a mountain saddle high above the Urubamba River in the middle of the cloud forest. It was both a center of worship and astronomic observatory as well as the private retreat of the family of Inca ruler Pachacútec.
Machu Picchu [mA´chOO pEk´chOO] Pronunciation Key, Inca site in Peru , about 50 mi (80 km) NW of Cuzco.
It is perched high upon a rock in a narrow saddle between two sharp mountain peaks and overlooks the Urubamba River 2,000 ft (600 m) below. Ignored and later forgotten by Spanish colonial authorities because of its abandoned condition, the site was uncovered in 1911 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham. The imposing city is one of the largest pre-Columbian sites found virtually intact. It contains rare examples of religious monuments, including a carved stone (the Intiwatana), a small tower (the TorreOn), and a cave with a masonry entrance (the Intimachay). Such indigenous shrines were generally destroyed by Spanish authorities. Perhaps the most spectacular ruin in the Americas . It shows admirable architectural design and execution, including a terracing system built on extremely steep terrain; it has been estimated that 60% of the effort expended on construction was devoted to creating the terraces. Archaeological and historical evidence indicates that it represents a mountain retreat of the Inca leader Pachacuti Yupanqui, who ruled c.1438–1471. Investigators have suggested the site may have served as a religious sanctuary and that the masonry windows at two of its monuments may have been aligned so as to define the June and December solstices. Experts do not agree whether the numerous steep walls at Machu Picchu and surrounding Inca sites were built as military fortifications or simply to delimit the boundaries of these special state installations.
"In the variety of its charms and the power of its spell, no place in the world which can compare with it. Not only has it great snow peaks looming above the clouds more than two miles overhead, gigantic precipices of many-colored granite rising sheer for thousands of feet above the foaming, glistening, roaring rapids; it has also, in striking contrast, orchids and tree ferns, the delectable beauty of luxurious vegetation, and the mysterious witchery of the jungle."
MACHU PICCHU is a citadel shrouded in mystery, and to this day archaeologists have not uncovered the history and purpose of this city of stone. The site that the Incas considered to be magical, due to the meeting of the Andes mountains with the mighty Amazon River.
Perhaps, MACHU PICCHU mystery may never be fully explained as, so far, there are only hypothesis and conjectures. For some, it may have been an advance settlement for planned further expansions by the Incas. Others believe MACHU PICCHU have been a monastery where young girls (Acllas) were trained to serve the Inca and the Willac Uno (High Priest). Support for this theory comes from the fact that of the 135 bodies discovered while exploring the site, 109 were female.
The surprising perfection and beauty of MACHU PICCHU 's walls, built by joining stone to stone without using any cement or adhesive whatsoever, has led to many myths developing around how the city was constructed.
It is said that a bird by the name of Kak'aqllu knew the formula for softening rock but by command, perhaps, of the ancient Inca gods, had its tongue torn out. It is also said that there was a magic plant which could dissolve and compress stone.
Nonetheless, mysteries and myths aside, the real attractiveness of MACHU PICCHU , lies in its squares, aqueducts and watchtowers, its observatories and in its sun clock, evidence of the wisdom and skill of the city's Andean builders.
Machu Picchu is an indispensable place to visit for everybody who gets to Cusco , and on seeing it, you, like the famous North American archaeologist, will be left speechless and won't want to leave.
The urban sector is "U" shaped and has two immense architectural groups with streets and stairwells that consist of a total of 3,000 steps, as well as a network of water canals suitable for domestic and irrigation use, interspersed with small squares and courtyards.
The constructions in Machu Picchu have rectangular floor spaces. Many of the enclosures, called masmas, have only three walls, which at one time were all thatched with tree trunks and ichu (straw).
Doors and windows are encased in trapezoid shapes as are the niches in the walls where idols and other objects were placed; a typical feature of Inca architecture.
Each wall in Machu Picchu is different; even those that share the same enclosure have different styles. The best finished wall is the main wall of the Templo Principal (Main Temple), where the cut and polished stones are flawlessly fitted together.
Worthy of attention too are the Intihuatana, a sundial made out of polished stone; the Torreón (Watchtower), a building with curved walls.
Due to its special location in a region of Peru where the Andes and the Amazon meet, the citadel have been declared a protected area in order to preserve the flora, fauna and geological formations, as well as the archeological remains
Apart from Machu Picchu itself, there are 34 other archeological groups in the Sanctuary, which are interconnected by the ancient Inca Trail, an impressive original Inca route, which nowadays is open to tourists.
Notable amongst these sites are the Inca constructions of Runquracay, the ruins of Sacyamarca (similar to Machu Picchu ), the citadel of Phuyupatamarca ("Town above the Clouds"), the ruins of Wiñay Wayna ("Eternally Young"), the Temple of the Moon and the archeological group known as the Gran Caverna ("Great Cavern").
The flora of Machu Picchu is exuberant, and in higher areas different species of high-Andean grains are found. In the low areas, trees such as the "aliso" Alnus jorullensis, "nogal" Juglans neotropica, "intimpa" Podocarpus glomeratus, "Kisuar" Buddleja incana may be found. There are also 30 genuses.
There are species in danger of extinction in the Sanctuary as well, such as the "rock hen" ("gallito de las rocas"), the "spectacled bear" ("oso de anteojos"), the otter and the mountain cat.

Hotel and Lodging
As tourists have access to hotel facilities in Cusco city, a one-day visit to Machu Picchu is feasible. However, if the visitor wishes to stay overnight, the small town of Aguas Calientes , about 8 kilometers from Machu Picchu , has a good number of small hotels, hostels, and restaurants as well as standard facilities such as a police station, electricity, water supply and telephones.
For those taking the Inca Trail, there is a lodge very close to the ruins of Wiñay Wayna which has terraces and comfortable rooms.

Climate & Weather
From June to October the mornings are warm with brilliant sunshine, though it can get quite cool in the shade. At night temperatures can drop to 10ºC.
From December to April showers and downpours are common, followed by bright, intense sunshine.
We recommend taking a raincoat or umbrella to protect you from the rain.

Transportation
To get to Machu Picchu the visitor must travel by direct train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes and from there; board any of the buses provided by the six different agencies which cover the route up to the citadel.
Peru Rail offers a variety of services to Machu Picchu , from San Pedro Station, in Cusco, to Aguas Calientes.
 
 
 
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