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Machu Picchu Peru

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"The Lost City of the Incas"

TripAdvisor travelers consistently vote Machu Picchu, Peru, a top world destination. It's easy to see why.

Machu Picchu is considered one of the 7 Wonders of the World.

How the Incas accomplished the incredible feat of using immense granite building blocks fitted perfectly together - in spite of many different angles to match up - is still a mystery to modern engineers.

Early Morning Machu Picchu Machu Picchu Hola - Welcome Machu Picchu - Is tourism always good? Temple of Three Windows Classic August

Machu Picchu is easily recognized by its unique structures and scenic setting and is one of the most photographed spots in the world.

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Trips to Peru's Machu Picchu are especially satisfying not only for the incredible and extensive sites of the ancient Inca Civilization and its related culture but also for Machu Picchu's majestic setting in the mountain mists and cloud forest of tropical Southern Peru.

Through the Door Machu Picchu

When Lin and I visited Machu Picchu and surrounding region, we really enjoyed not only the citadel (of course, it's fantastic) but also the adjacent countryside.

Along with our daughter Kelsey, Lin's mother Win, and two other friends, we took a very informative tour of Machu Picchu.

We had hired our guide through the recommendation of the small hotel where we stayed in Cusco, and he was well worth the expense. He spoke English quite well and gave us good rundowns on all we were seeing.

There is a lot to see. Just in the citadel itself were a number of spots that were known for specific purposes and we tried to retain it all and take photos.

   What is Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu Peru (in the Quechua language, "Old Mountain") is an Inca stronghold or fortress built by the Incan rulers.

Buried in the mountain jungle of Southeastern Peru, these incredible archaeological remains were unknown to the outside world until an explorer by the name of Hiram Bingham stumbled upon them in 1911.

Since then, Machu Picchu has been visited by millions of visitors.

Machu Picchu is a pre-Columbian Inca site, which means that it existed before Christopher Columbus (or any other Europeans) first landed in the Americas.

The site of Machu Picchu was a center of worship and astronomical observation and was probably a private royal family estate of Inca Pachacutec.

To supply the food for the residents, the site included an agriculture area with terraces and food storage. Considered sacred by the locals, Machu Picchu, Peru is especially important as a cultural heritage site.

The architecture and setting combined make this one of the most impressive locations in the world.

Peru's Machu Picchu and surrounding areas now form the Machu Picchu Historic Reserve, covering an area of 80,535 acres (32,592 hectares)

   Where is Machu Picchu Peru?

Northwest View Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is located high atop a steep mountain ridge about 3000 feet above the Urubamba Valley in Southern Peru.

Although it is 7,970 feet (2,439 meters) above sea level, the Machu Picchu area is in the midst of the extensive tropical forest on the eastern slope of Peru's southern mountains

   The Landscape and Natural Attractions

Much of the beauty and charm that surrounds Machu Picchu, Peru's biggest tourist attraction, is its unusual setting: a spectacular natural environment of verdant ridges and valleys covered with mountain forests.

Surrounded by the Andes Mountains of Peru, Machu Picchu is dominated by majestic Salkantay (6,271 m), the highest snowdrift mountain in the Cordillera de Vilcanota (Vilcanota range).

Salkantay mountain had a religious significance for the local population as being the god Apu.

Huayna Picchu (in Quechua, 'Young Mountain') is the mountain right next to Machu Picchu, a hallmark feature of photos of the area.

There are interesting Inca ruins in different parts of Huayna Picchu that are accessible by steep trails.

For the more athletic and adventurous, a hike to the breathtaking peak of Huayna Picchu is not to be missed.

Again, to get the MOST out of your visit to Machu Picchu and the surrounding areas, whether you have a tour guide or not, you really should get yourself a well-made, detailed map of Machu Picchu and highlights of the Sacred Valley and its trails.

   Flora and Fauna

Over 350 species of birds can be found in the Reserve, many of which can be seen during a hike.

For example, the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (national bird of Peru) can be identified by the male's brilliant red color.

Photo by Jerry Thompson - IMG_4233aa, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5412092

Ground animals also abound in the area of Machu Picchu, Peru.

The Andean Bear, or Spectacled Bear, for one, inhabits the Reserve, although seldom seen due to its reclusive habits.

The flora is particularly diverse and interesting: nearly 200 species of orchids have been recorded in the sanctuary.

Notes on visiting Machu Picchu:


Most of our photos later were lost (long story). So, back up your photos as soon as possible.

What Lin and I use now is Carbonite, an automatic cloud backup for files, photos and more. Since it backups all files on your computer as you add them it eliminates forgetting now and regretting later. It is very inexpensive, about $5 USD a month and you will have immediate access to your photos and files from any of your connected devices.

Of course there are other good free cloud backups but the catch is that most of them do not backup automatically, something that we personally have found essential.


Another thing that we should have gotten and didn't realize it until later was an informational book with a good map of Machu Picchu; hopefully one that included the surrounding Sacred Valley highlights.

You just don't realize before you start all the things that later you'll try to remember. A map really makes a difference and comes in real handy when trying to place what photos were taken where.


The next time we go (since we live in Peru, it's a convenient trip) we will be taking the the book "The Machu Picchu Guidebook: A Self-Guided Tour" with us.

With or without a guided tour, this book is indispensable for taking in and remembering what you are seeing. A fold-out map is included with many details.

It comes very highly recommended.


Some of the areas, for example the mountain Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain, are closed for maintenance for brief times each year. You may want to check for closure dates. The Citadel itself is open every day.


Buy your entrance tickets months in advance. Entry is limited.

At the same time, if you are determined to climb Huayna Picchu, the 1,000 foot peak at the extreme of Machu Picchu (highly recommended), you need to purchase a special ticket. Entry to Huayna Picchu (also spelled Wayna Picchu) is limited to 800 people per day.

A good place to find out availability of tickets and to purchase the entries is
Ticket Machu Picchu.com

Take Note!

Due to the steep and unstable terrain in the Sacred Valley area, landslides can occur with heavy rains.

The train from Cusco into Aguas Calientes (village at the bottom of the mountain) was closed for several months due to landslides in March 2010 but reopened within a short time.

Again, in early 2014, landslides closed the zig-zag road that rises from the valley bottom at Aguas Calientes up to the dizzying heights of Machu Picchu.

Access was closed to most tourists for a whole month.

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