Step back in time and into another world by visiting the breathtaking Incan civilization Machu Picchu. Sitting in the Peruvian Andes in Cusco, Peru, this hidden old ruin is the perfect place to go for an adventure of a life time.
Machu Picchu means “old peak” and is considered the biggest tourist attraction in South America. It was first discovered by a Yale lecturer named Hiram Bingham, although many farmers and locals had known about it before. The location of the city was actually kept a secret during the Incan rule as a defense mechanism. The steep mountains and deep valleys helped keep out threatening enemies. The site is also surrounded on three sides by cliffs dropping directly into the Urubamba River 1,480 feet below. The valleys that surround Machu Picchu have been cultivated over the past thousands of years by local people, imitating the way their Incan ancestors used to work with the land.
Flickr photo via Guillén Pérez
The trail to hike to Machu Picchu takes four days. The best time to plan a trip is in May when it is less crowded and, if possible, during a full moon because the four day trek starts very early in the morning and it would be nice to hike with moonlight. In June through September, the busy months, there are flocks of tourists on the trail and it taints the experience a little bit. It is also best to avoid traveling there in the rainy season.
To hike the trail to the old Incan Ruins, you must hire a guide. This prevents the landmark, trails and nature from being destroyed along the way by reckless travelers. You can book a guide out of Lima or Cusco who will take a bus with you to the Andes in order to start the hike. The guides will provide tents and food to eat, and you provide your own gear.
The Inca trail goes along the Urubamba River as well as past other ruins on the way to the main UNESCO heritage site, Machu Picchu. Be prepared for long days, camping at night, and some of the most breathtaking views. Hiking to Machu Picchu is the adventure of a lifetime.