Machu Picchu is located 110 km to the northeast of the city of Cusco, or about four hours by train, plus another 8 km from the town up to the Historic Sanctuary, about 30 minutes by bus.
Machu Picchu is an impressive Inca Sanctuary set deep into a mountaintop. Its name translates as “old mountain,” but it is also known as “the lost city of the Inca,” since it was a mystery until discovered. The enigmatic archaeological complex of Machu Picchu, the most important and beautiful legacy left by ancient Peruvians, is part of the Historic Sanctuary designated by the same name, and which is one of the few places in the Americas to be declared both natural and cultural patrimony of humanity by UNESCO. Nestled into the peak of a mountain, it harmonizes with the exuberant natural scenery that surrounds it, making it a place like no other in the world. The archaeological complex is divided into two sectors, which encompass approximately 20 hectares. Terraces up to four meters tall built into the side of the mountain constitute the agricultural sector. The urban sector is made up of diverse constructions and plazas, including highlights such as the so-called Temple of the Sun, the Intihuantana or solar observatory, the temple of the three windows, the main temple, and the so-called condor section. Additionally, an impressive stone monolith measuring three meters high and seven meters at the base is known as the Sacred Rock. To build Machu Picchu, the Inca used stone blocks extracted from nearby areas. The work observed in the walls varies in quality and technique. One of the most accomplished examples of Inca stonemasonry is the central wall of the Main Temple, which features blocks that align perfectly. Not only is the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu an invaluable archaeological treasure, it is also associated with vibrant fauna and flora.
In 1983, Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary was declared Cultural and Natural Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO, and on July 7, 2007, it joined the list of wonders of the modern world. It is the most important tourist attraction in Cusco.
Standing high above Machu Picchu is the imposing eternal guardian of the Historic Sanctuary, Wayna Picchu or “Young Mountain” in Quechua. Climbing to its peak is another unforgettable experience. The climb begins from the main plaza of Machu Picchu and follows a trail made by the Incas themselves that is currently well marked and in good condition. As the trail climbs, hidden sacred enclaves and terraces built into the mountainside appear, until at last a magnificent view unfolds: Machu Picchu in al its splendor, the canyon formed by the mighty Vilcanota river, and the surrounding green mountains. The hike takes between two and three hours, and only 400 people are allowed to make the climb in two separate turns:
• First turn: 7:00 – 8:00 a.m.
• Second turn: 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
MACHU PICCHU MONTAÑA
The great mountain rises at least 652 meters above the Sacred City, offering verdant landscapes like few in the world along ancient Inca pathways that ascend amid abundant vegetation and surrounded by native fauna. The route has some irregular stretches, including stone stairways. The climb takes between two and three hours, but on reaching the summit, the reward is astonishing views of the Vilcanota river canyon, its vegetated mountains on either side, and above the peaks of the Vilcabamba range, including Salcantay (6,271 m or 20,551 ft). Only 400 people are allowed to make the climb, in two separate turns:
• First turn: 7:00–8:00 a.m.
• Second turn: 9:00–10:00 a.m.