I have seen a few wonders while traveling , natural and manmade. Being a travel junkie , Machu Picchu aka one of the of the world’s most famous manmade wonders was high on my list , as it is at the top of every traveller’s bucket list.
And let me tell you , years after visiting it , it continues to take my breath away . Just the thought of it does .
Out of many incredible awesome things you’ll see while traveling , this is a very special one . So special , I am ready to believe there is something celestial about it .
It felt like the Inca knew something about balance that we don’t . Yes , Macchu Picchu is definitely attractive to historians and archeologists , with Inca building techniques .
But to me , the real wonder of the world was in the perfect harmony : the man-made and the natural. The was such a complex structure , coexists with the stunning nature of the Andes so effortlessly . The most promotive and the most complex . This is the wonder .
Machu Picchu was not a big deal to Incas
Incas only lived in Machu Picchu for 90 years before the citadel was abandoned. The sight is stunning , with its unique architecture and location but there is no historical evidence that anything important ever took place here .
The Spanish were after the important cities , such as Cusco – the navel of the earth , the capital of the Inca Empire . Machu Picchu was relatively unimportant and remote.
Why is it so important now ? It is the most preserved of all the Inca sights , it was basically untouched .
Who was the first ?
American archaeologist Hiram Bingham commonly credited with rediscovering Machu Picchu centuries after the Incas abandoned the site during the Spanish conquest.
In the summer of 1911 the arrived in Peru with a small team of explorers hoping to find the famed ruins of Vilcabamba, some 60 miles away, known as the last stronghold of the Incas.
, the last Inca to resist the Spaniards .Hiram Bingham made it all the way from Cusco into the Urubamba Valley traveling on mule and by foot . A local farmer told them of some ruins located at the top of a nearby mountain.
Led by 11 year old , he reached Machhu Picchu and this is how the “discovery” took place .
Shortly after , Bingham came up with the best-selling book, “The Lost City of the Incas,” and this was the point where tourists started for the first time flooding Peru .
There is , however, a lot of evidence that the western missionaries and other explorers reached the site way before Bingham did , bu were simply not famous enough to spread the word , nor did they write the best selling books .
Machu Picchu is the name of the mountain, not the ruin
When you reach Machu Picchu, the first thing you’ll see after emerging from the dense tropical canopy of the mountaintop isn’t the citadel, but the breathtaking Sacred Valley of the Inca—a dizzying drop of several hundred feet to Urubamba river.
Finders , not keepers
Bingham excavated artifacts from Machu Picchu and took them to Yale University for further inspection …
In 2008 Peruvian government filed a lawsuit against Yale University to recover relics taken nearly a century ago.
Yale had more than 40,000 pieces — a precious mix of mummies, pottery and jewelry,bronze, gold and other metal objects, mummies, skulls, bones and other human remains, pottery, utensils, ceramics and objects of art. “the artifacts are of immense cultural and historical importance,”
According to Yale , it would take better care of the artifacts than Peru and also offer scholars the opportunity to study them.
Yale at the end returned the precious artifacts , according to the government of Peru , “not all of them” and wanted the case dropped .
To know before you go :
- Bring your passport : there is self-serve booth right before you exit to the bus loading zone .You can stamp your passport with a custom Machu Picchu design. Although the stamp doesn’t carry any official significance, it’s a badge of honour for your passport, and a charming souvenir of your Machu Picchu experience.
- Buy Your Tickets in Advance – don’t even think about doing it the day of at the gate.
- There are no bathrooms, restaurants or drinking water once you enter the site, but there are facilities just before the entrance. So hold onto your entrance ticket so you can exit and re-enter.
- Wear pants , not shorts – the exotic insect you will encounter there have no mercy and completely ignore the insect repellant
- Begin your visit as early as you can and stay late if you can , when crowds thin a little, you’ll feel you have Machu Picchu all to yourself.The ruins are open from dawn to dusk every day.
- Machu Picchu is too important to rush.
- If you are in shape, sign up to climb Huayna Picchu, the famous peak within the ruins that you can see in most photos. They only allow 400 a day to climb, so sign up the day before and go early for best views.
- Pack sunscreen, a sun hat and water.
- Sturdy shoes are a must
- Weather in the Andes can also change in a brief second, so you should pack a rain jacket
- You don’t have to be an experienced hiker at all to navigate the ruins , as long as you have proper shoes , sunscreen and water , you can do it !
How to get there :
The best way to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco is by train. It normally takes about three and a half hours. Once you reach the nearby town of Aguas Calientes, you can take a shuttle or hike up to Machu Picchu. Be warned though, due to its popularity, travelling to Machu Picchu and getting in is quite expensive.
Whilst in Aguas Calientes, be sure to check out the natural hot springs. The natural volcanic water is said to have unique medicinal and healing properties. Many people assume the water is dirty, when in fact the naturally occuring minerals cause the water to appear yellow and murky. A great place to stop and relax, especially if you’ve been hiking your way through the Sacred Valley!
When to visit Machu Picchu :
Machu Picchu is open year-round, but October to April is the rainy season, and therefore it has the fewest visitors. The inconvenience of rain is offset by the lack to tourists, and it is worth considering.
Trains take explorers to Aguas Calientes, a neat and tidy town at the base of the mountain where Machu Picchu rests.
You buy two important tickets in the town center: bus tickets to Machu Picchu and entrance tickets for the ruins themselves (you can’t buy tickets to the ruins at the entrance).
Purchase Machu Picchu tickets at the Machu Picchu Cultural Center in Aguas Calientes. It’s best to bring cash for the tickets, although there is an ATM in town. You can also buy advance tickets to Machu Picchu in Cusco at the Institute of National Culture. Tickets cost about $44.