Nestled in the mountainous Cusco Region of Peru, the 15th century ruins of Machu Picchu are thought to be an estate built for a powerful Inca emperor. Machu Picchu was declared a World Heritage Site in the early 1980s, and is revered as one of the great modern wonders of the world.
As tourist attractions go, Machu Picchu is not one for the feint-hearted, particularly if you don't enjoy heights! Despite its relative inaccessibility, it does still attract large numbers of visitors, with trains and buses doing most of the leg-work for the majority of visitors.
Those who are able may prefer the hike along the Inca trail, which is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the rich variety of flora and fauna in the region. Involving either a two-day or four-day hike, depending on the starting point, you will need to rough it a little, sleeping in tents and walking several hours at a time.
The Inca trail is controlled and maintained by the Peruvian government, so you will be joining an organised tour on your epic trek, but the rewards are more than worth it.
Where is it?
High in the Andes mountain range, 2,430ft above sea level, Machu Picchu is in the Cusco Region of Peru, situated on a mountain ridge overlooking the Urubamba Valley.
What is it?
The ruins of an Inca estate that was never found, and therefore never ransacked by the Spanish conquistadors, making it a very special and unique insight into the lives of the Inca people.
Best time to visit?
The rainy season is between November and March, at which time the Inca trail is closed, but you can still visit by other means and it is quieter than in the dry season. Get there as early as possible to enjoy Machu Picchu with fewer tourists.
Arriving on foot along the Inca trail your first sight of Machu Picchu will be through the Sun Gate, where you may be lucky enough to catch the first rays of the sun rising above the stunning views across the Andes.
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