Machu Picchu means Old Mountain and is located at 2430 meters above sea level being the centre of the Inca Empire from here The Incas dominated the central region of South America for 400 years.
The advanced engineering techniques used to build the city make Machu Picchu one of the most complex civilizations of their times and the Incas the most innovator Empires and way advanced for their generation. Being visited by 2500 people a day, it is the most popular Peruvian destination and a treasure that make us all proud.
When to book?
- Plan your trip nine to six months in advance. The amount of people that can visit the sanctuary is divided in two: morning and afternoon. Tickets are sold out not only for the Sanctuary buy also for the train. keep in mind that the rules are changing, together with the prices and less people will be able to visit the Sanctuary per day since it is sinking. It originally was indented to hold 500 people at the time. But the authorities of Peru did not pay attention to this matter and were allowing up to 3000 people per day. I am happy that the amount of people visiting Machu Picchu can be reduced up to half of it. Remember Peru is not only Machu Picchu and with new ruins recently discovered. If you plan your trip ahead you will be able to see more like the recently discovery: Choquequirao which is three times bigger than Machu Picchu.
When to go?
- If you want to visit Machu Picchu avoid visiting during rainy season (January to April)
What to bring?
- Small backpack or pack light
- Camera with extra batteries. You will be happy to use a wide angle lens!
- Avoid metal tripods: They may take those away. And definitely no pocket knifes.
- Water and small snacks: Please do not eat in the Sanctuary is prohibited and we are trying to preserve it so more people can enjoy it. You can go outside to have your snack. For me works very well with the altitude to have an early breakfast and have a snack before passing security.
- Mosquito repellent (The altitude is too high for mosquitos and I have never been bitten by one then but it doesn't hurt to bring one)
- Poncho: You never know when it will rain and when it rains it pours.
How to dress?
- Hiking boots
- Dress in layers
- Definitely bring a coat. It is very cold in the morning and night and it can be hot at noon
- hat and sunglasses
- comfortable pants (hiking pants, leggings, sweatpants)
What to see?
All tourist need to get in with a guide. There are several certified guides that speak many languages at the entrance but they are already pre-booked so you will have to ask for permission and join another group. It is much better if you get you own guide. Do not lose your guide. You will regret it. They know the inside out of the city and they will tell you important information that will make your experience much better.
Once you are there don't miss:
- Watchman's Hut: Best place to take a photo of the entire city
- Temple of the Sun: Use as an astrological observatory, you will feel the energy of this mystical place right away. Please open your mind and your heart. I have only experienced this type of energy here.
- The Royal Tomb: Used as a ceremonial niche, You will observe the main symbol of the Inca Culture here. The CHACANA. which the first step the snake that represents the underground life or death. The second step is the jaguar that represents humans. The third step is Condor and represents the celestial or life in heaven and god (Condor is typical bird from the Andes. If you are really lucky and depends where in Peru you go. You will see one. Consider visiting Arequipa next time you are in Peru. You will have more chances there to see a Condor than in the Cusco area).
- The Fountains: This is one of the most impressive examples on how advance the Incas were to their times. The hydraulic engineering system will blow your mind.
- The Temple of Three Windows: These three windows represent the three aspects of the word: Heaven in Quechua Hanan-Pacha, The Present in Quechua Kay-Pacha and The underground in Quechua Uka-Pacha. The structure of these Windows are perfectly designed and it is amazing how well they are preserved until now. Also, It helps that all the Inca Structures are earthquake-proof. Yes, they were impressive civil engineers.
- Intihuatana: You will find this astrological clock in many parts of Peru but the most spectacular one is located in Machu Picchu. This clock was design to indicate when the Winter solstice starts in Quechua INTI RAYMI which is the most important celebration in the Inca Times. Nowadays the locals still celebrate the INTI RAYMI be aware that this is high season to visit Cusco.
- The Main Square: Where important religious ceremonies took place. This Main Square or Plaza was the division between the urban sector called Hunin and the high sector called Hanan. The different social classes in the Inca Empire was not measure by money but by knowledge. A rich man will be someone who was expert in Astrology, Engineering, Accounting, Medicine, Astronomy, etc.
-The Terraces: Also called Andenes were built with the agricultural purposes and they count with an irrigations system that works until now. Very impressive! But that is not it! Between each terrace the temperature varies. For example potatoes need to be harvested in lower steps because they required lower temperatures and and quinoa on the top because it needs not only full sun but no more than 32 degrees Celsius during the day and cool temperature at nights.
- The Prison Group: Also Known as The Temple of the Condor, this place was used to torture prisoners or as a temple for sacrifices. You will see on the rocks the sculpt of a condor. Condor was sacred for the Incas as we mentioned above. This animal was the messenger between the Apus (mountain spirits) and the natives.
- The Sacred Rock: Located at the end of the city and before climbing Wayna Picchu. This sacred stone was the first stone in this Inca City. In the Inca times, before starting a construction of a village/city, a sacred stone must be place to honour the site. If you look carefully, You will notice that it has the shape of Machu Picchu.
If you have time also climb:
- Huayna (also spelled Wayna) Picchu also know as THE DEVIL'S STAIRS. It is limited to 150 people in the morning and 150 in the afternoon. Be extremely careful and respect others. Space is limited and dangerous any act of imprudence can be life treating for you or another traveller. Tickets need to be purchased at least 6 months in advance or more.
- Machupicchu Mountain located at approx. 3500 meters above the see level. It is the highest climb of the city but it is all worth it. Once you get to the top the view from Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu is breathtaking. This hike took me four hours and it is just stairs.
Once you are in Machu Picchu you will feel the energy. Make sure you recharge your batteries and feel free to touch the stone. They are loaded with GOOD VIBES!
And please do not feed the llamas. They only eat grass!
Diana Marro Pacas www.pacas.ca
Photos by @little_Peruvian_girl