The historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu is an engineering marvel—a city in the clouds surrounded by sheer precipices. The site contains 140 known structures, including temples, palaces, ritual baths and dwellings. The city also includes agricultural terraces and over 100 flights of stone stairs. Much of the stonework is so fine that it seems to spring organically from the living rock.
Machu Picchu—"Old Mountain" in the Quechua language— straddles a ridge at approximately 8,000 feet above sea level. Far below, the Urubamba River Valley carves sharp turns around the mountain's base. Huayna Picchu—or the "Young Mountain"—serves as the citadel's principal backdrop. In the distance and across the river valley, rows of peaks add to the site's sense of boundlessness.
In 1911, the American explorer and historian Hiram Bingham brought the citadel to the world's attention. Bingham had been searching for the lost city of Vilcabamba when he was led to the site by a local farmer surnamed Arteaga. In his excavations, Bingham found the remains of 173 humans: 150 female and 23 male. The graves bore evidence of looting; however, copper, ceramic and stone objects were uncovered.
Sunrise at Machu Picchu is an unforgettable experience. At dawn, the site is often concealed by low clouds. As sun rises, the mists slowly dissipate to reveal walls and plazas—first in glimpses, then in majesty.
Machu Picchu can be reached by train—with stops in the Sacred Valley and Cusco—and by trail. Multi-day hiking trips are available. Hikes near Machu Picchu include the trail to the summit of Huayna Picchu, the extension to the Temple of the Moon, and the Inca trail site of Wiñay Wayna. Comfortable accommodations are located at the base of the mountain and outside the park gate.
Mosaico Travel Services arranges personalized travel in Peru and throughout South America. We organize luxury accommodation, private transportation, and tours with expert guides. Speak with a Mosaico travel planner today at 801.582.2100. We’ll take care of the details.
"I hope at no distant future to prepare an exhaustive report of this wonderful city, whose charm can only dimly be realized from these pictures. The beautiful blue of the tropical sky, the varying shades of green that clothe the magnificent mountains, and the mysterious charm of the roaring rapids thousands of feet below cannot be portrayed and can with difficulty be imagined."