AUTHOR Caroline Eaton
When you are done exploring the Galapagos Islands, don’t let your adventure end there!
Machu Picchu, the famous UNESCO World Heritage site is only a short flight away and one of our most popular excursions from the Galapagos. Many of our guests combine their adventure to the islands, with a stop for 6 – 7 nights to stand in awe at the stunning Inca architecture.
What is Machu Picchu?
Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca site located 2,430 meters above sea level. The Inca left no record as to why they built the site or how they used it before it was abandoned, and due to them not having a written language it leaves a lot up for speculation and mystery.
The famous site sits in the middle of two mountains, Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, and is the most familiar icon of Inca civilization, a must see while you are in South America. Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. More recently, In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll.
Why should you visit it now?
Preservation of the site is an ongoing battle with natural disasters and increased tourism.
As Peru’s most visited tourist attraction and major revenue generator, it is continually threatened by outside economic and commercial factors. The thousands of people hiking through the city has worn down the pathways and damaged pillars along the site. Bigger hotels and more restaurants are continually going up as more people visit which makes now the best time to plan a trip.
In an attempt to warn the government, UNESCO issued a warning and threatened to put Machu Picchu on the endangered sites list. This is the first step in removing the site from the World Heritage list. Thankfully since then, there has been steps taken to limit the number of tourists visiting each day in order to help manage the sites sustainability.
Having a guide join you as you explore the area will help you get a better picture of the fascinating history and unique stories that scientists have discovered over the years.
What do you see at Machu Picchu?
If you hike the Inca Trail this is the first sighting when you reach the ruins, if not you can backtrack from the ruins along the trail and up the hill. From the sun gate you will have spectacular views of the site, but be prepared for a decent hike to get there. Give yourself time to not only hike there, but to spend time enojoying the view.
Temple of the Sun
Near the summit of the main city, this ceremonial temple was built to celebrate and honor the sun, a very sacred symbol to the Incas. Here you can find some of the best stonework done by the Incas and is a must see while you are visiting Machu Picchu.
At the south end of Machu Picchu you will see the steep mountain of Wayna Picchu, it is often caught in photographs of Machu Picchu. If you want breathtaking views over the ruins, we suggest you plan ahead to climb Wayna PIcchu. There are steep parts along the climb, but nothing that a reasonably fit person should have a problem with.
Tickets to Wayna Picchu need to be reserved beforehand and only 400 people are allowed per day to climb the mountain to help conserve the area.
A good book to read before you go:
Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time
in 1911, Hiram Bingham III climbed into the Andes Mountains of Peru and “discovered” Machu Picchu. Mark Adams writes about how he retraced the explorer’s steps in search of the truth. The book is an interesting and humerous recount of his adventure to find out ‘what exactly is Machu Picchu’?
Photo Credit: Traveling9to5