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History

Machu Picchu, interpreted as “old mountain”, is an ancient inca settlement nestled in the Andes of southern Peru, and stands 2,430 metres above sea level. The UNESCO World Heritage site has only been widely known from its discovery in 1911 by Hiram Bingham (not that long ago!), and is believed to have served as a royal estate during the 15th century Inca period.

Now Machu Picchu is one of the newly established Seven Wonders of the World, with thousands flocking to visit the impressive archaeological site every day. In 2021, nearly half a million people visited the ancient city in Peru!

Altitude Adjusting and How to Travel There

It is critical to get acclimated to the new altitudes you will experience before travelling to Machu Picchu, to help minimise altitude sickness and its side effects. You can do this by visiting Aguas Calientes, a town near Machu Picchu with a lower altitude, for a few nights to help your body adjust before taking on Machu Picchu.

To access the trails and Machu Picchu, all visitors must now be accompanied by a tour guide, therefore doing research before you go on which tour groups are best will save you time and money than figuring it out once you are there.

When to Go to Machu Picchu

Although Machu Picchu is open all year-round, May to September avoids the official rainy season. Peak season is typically July and August, and is subject to large crowds, with Sundays being the busiest day due to locals visiting the site for free. Additionally, the Inca Trail is closed every February for maintenance.

Must-See Sights

1. Guardian’s Hut – The iconic and most popular viewpoint at the entrance to Machu Picchu. Here, stand amazed by the incredible view of the Machu Picchu ruins and the mountains that surround them.

2. The Sun Gate (Inti Punku) – This gate was used during the Inca period for anyone who wanted to enter or leave the fortress. The Sun Gate offers an amazing viewpoint with panoramic views over the whole of Machu Picchu.

3. Huayna Picchu – While known as a difficult trail, the Huayna Picchu hike is definitely worth the sweat as it takes you through a scenic trail directly to the top of the mountain behind Machu Picchu, where you get to see the original Inca buildings in all their glory!

4. Inca Bridge – This bridge was built as a secret back entrance to Machu Picchu for the Inca army, and while it is now unusable, it is still a riveting sight of Inca architecture to see. It is also not too far from the entrance to Machu Picchu! 

5. Llamas and Alpacas – Machu Picchu is filled with llamas and alpacas grazing around the ruins, as they were important resources for the Incas. These photogenic animals definitely make for picture-worthy moments!

So, whether it’s a quick luxury break away from it all, a family gathering somewhere special or a once in a lifetime adventure, UTC can help.  As well as trade prices and ABTA and ATOL protection, you get access to our UK based travel experts.  They can help with private tours, multi-stop flights, specialist itineraries and more. Sign up today and start making memories that will last a lifetime.