For some time now, the land of Machu Picchu has been laden with an aura of mystery and grandeur. It’s on the bucket list of almost every history lover and explorer. Being an abode of and the land of royals, several archaeologists believe that the ancient citadel, in the Cusco region of Peru, was built for the Inca emperor or Pachacuti. However, this site was a well kept secret from the world. It was not even revealed to the Spanish conquerors, but with the coming of the American historian Bingham, he made its existence public in 1911. In the year 1983 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Machu Picchu can be known as the land of ancient monuments and architecture.
– By Avantika Bhuyan
The Ideal Time to Visit
Situated in the region of Cusco, at the bow of the Urubamba River, the site is generally shrouded in mist during the early hours of the morning. Hence, it is recommended that the site be visited between 10 am and 2 pm. The region of Machu Picchu witnesses heavy rainfall between October and April, making it difficult to traverse through steep cliffs and treacherous paths. Most travellers choose to visit in the dry seasons, between June and August, as the weather is dry and mild. At one point of time, hundreds of thousands of visitors would make a beeline for the ancient citadel, thereby causing damage to the site. In 2011, the Dirección Regional de Cultura Cusco made entrance rules strict to limit the number of visitors to 2,500 per day, to mitigate the effects of tourism on the site. So plan your travels accordingly to make it within the time slots available to visitors.
Budget-friendly Machu Picchu
There was a time when a trip to South America could put a heavy dent in your pockets. But with great tour operators such as Cox & Kings, you can plan a 14 to 16-day-long trip to this breathtaking archaeological site, and not have to worry too much about the financial repercussions. The prices start from only £2,845. This would include cost of flights, accommodation, overnight stay at Machu Picchu, sightseeing, and a scenic train journey. These trips are tailor-made to suit every pocket. This enables you to choose from a luxurious customised tour or plan your trip independently and visit the ruins. The entrance fee costs around £31 for a day. For those on a budget, there are frequent buses between the closest town of Aguas Calientes and the ruins. Accommodations also vary from uber-luxe hotels to simple, yet comfortable homestays. All you need to do is ask yourself what kind of experience do you want – the rugged, tough, liberating, trek, spend a few days in a hotel near the Sacred Valley? Pick the one that suits you!
An Explorer’s Delight
Machu Picchu is truly an explorer’s delight, as it has majestic mountains, lush green surroundings, rivers and ancient cities. When you visit Machu Picchu you will realise that it’s not just a destination, it’s the journey to Machu Picchu, which makes your trip memorable.
If you’re an adventure enthusiast and wish to get your adrenalin pumping, you can opt for a breathtaking trek across the Vilcanota River. This offers jaw-dropping views of the Nevado Veronica. History lovers can indulge in exploring the sights and sounds of Lima, all the way to the heritage city of Cusco, where you find the Sacred Valley – the ruins of Sayaqmarka and Phuyupatamarka. Nature lovers, can enjoy a trail that takes them through beautiful forests laden with vibrant orchids, before arriving at the Gate of the Sun, which leads up to Machu Picchu.
Cox & Kings Recommends:
The Machu Picchu Sanctuary: Set amidst rugged cliffs, the sanctuary is an extraordinary site. It seems as if the ramparts, walls and terraces have been naturally cut from the rocks. The tour through the citadel includes a visit to the main plaza, the royal quarters, temple of three windows, the circular tower, the sacred sun dial and the burial grounds.
Literally known as the town above the clouds, is a classic example of the restoration work that has been carried on in the site. The ruin contains a spectacular series of ceremonial baths. It also offers a great camping spot, which is a favourite among trekkers and hikers.
There are heritage points all around the citadel, which offer stunning views of mountains and rivers. However, the one that is likely to take your breath away with the vistas in front is the Sacred Plaza. It features a viewing platform from where you can see the beautiful snowy Cordillera Vilcabamba and the Urubamba River below.
The site features a unique carved rock pillar, which was used by the Inca astronomers to predict solstices. It stands out for its craftsmanship.
Cuisine in Machu Picchu
The highlight of the Inca Trail is the recreation of the ancient style of cooking. There are many chefs who focus on traditional Inca techniques such as the pachamanca, which involved burying the meat in the ground. This pit-cooking technique continued to be an integral part of the Peruvian cuisine in the central Andes, especially during celebrations, when families get together to stack layers of potatoes, corn and marinated meats in a pit.
In Ollantaytambo, a picturesque Andean town, where the Inca trail begins, one can find another aspect of ancient cuisine come alive. The cuisine here thrives on fruits, vegetables and all other natural produce. At the El Molino resort, you get traditional Inca recipes that include meals made with wildflowers, golden berries, sweet fruit called tuna, granadilla, cherimoya and the aji amarillo.
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About The Author
Avantika Bhuyan is a freelance journalist who loves to uncover the invisible India hiding in nooks and crannies across the country.