Machu Picchu, The Lost City of the Incas (with Map & Photos)

Machu Picchu is a legendary city that is hidden in the heart of the Andes at an altitude of 2400 m. This ancient Inca settlement between two mountain peaks still keeps its secrets. When looking at the ruins of the city of Machu Picchu, spectacularly appearing among the mountain peaks covered with jungle and steep slopes and terraces descending into the valley, tourists take their breath away.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

Those wishing to explore the monumental ruins and immerse themselves in the atmosphere of an ancient civilization can follow the Inca Trail, a route used by pilgrims for many centuries. It goes from the Sacred Valley near Ollantaytambo through exotic forest and majestic mountains. Hike along the Inca Trail lasts several days. From the top of Burial Rock you can enjoy a spectacular view - this is an ideal place to meet the sunrise, if only you do not mind the abundance of people, as well as lamas grazing nearby. From here, the location of the ancient city is perfectly visible with agricultural and urban zones separated by a long dry moat.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu


Some archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was created as a sacred mountain haven by the great Inca ruler Pachacutec a century before the conquest of his empire, that is, approximately in 1440, and functioned until 1532.

The hordes of Spanish conquistadors reached the highlands of Peru, easily breaking the attempts of resistance of the indigenous tribes. However, Manco Capac II (1516-1544), also known as Manco Inca Yupanqui, an ambitious Indian leader, did not resign himself to the role of a courtier in the service of the Spanish crown. He gathered a detachment of soldiers devoted to him and raised an armed rebellion against the Spanish invaders. However, the forces were too unequal, and after several years of bloody battles, Manco Capac II with the remnants of his army was forced to hide in the impregnable highlands of the Andes.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

High in the mountains, they tried to find a place where they could lay a new Inca city, until they came across a plateau between two mountain peaks: the “Young Peak” (Huayna Picchu) and the “Old Peak” (Machu Picchu) - high above the wild jungles of the Urubamba valley. Manco Capac II named his new city in the transcendental skies Wilca-Bamba, and here the Inca Empire subject to him lasted another 30 years, and the location of the city of Machu Picau was forgotten. When Hiram Bingham rediscovered Machu Picchu in 1911, he announced that he had discovered Vilcabamba. The results of recent archaeological excavations cast doubt on his conclusions, however, an ancient settlement, identified as a possible Vilcabamba, was found 100 km west of this place.

The complete oblivion of Machu Picchu is also covered with a veil of secrecy. Apparently, the Incas left it once and for all in 1532, when the Spanish conquistadors captured the city. The jungle quickly covered the depopulated ruins. Almost 400 years passed before it was rediscovered.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu


  • 15th century: According to archaeological evidence, Machu Picchu was founded then.
  • 1776 and 1782: Decrees related to the acquisition of agricultural terraces around Machu Picchu.
  • 1895: The road to Cusco, the "Sacred Valley of the Incas", was built, bringing the area to life as a whole.
  • 1911: Yale Expedition led by Hiram Bingham rediscovers the ancient city. Bingham visited Machu Picchu as early as 1912 and 1915.
  • 1934: Archaeological research started under the direction of the Peruvian scientist Luis E. Valcarcel. In 1940-1941. the excavations are carried out by Paul Fejos. Work resumed in 1960.
  • 1983: Machu Picchu is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Tours to Machu Picchu

Travel agencies and guides in Cusco offer a huge selection of routes to Machu Picchu, but they are mainly divided into:

  • one-day excursions that are in the greatest demand;
  • two-day tours with an overnight stay in the village of Aguas Calientes;
  • 4-day hike to Machu Picchu along the Inca Trail.

With the most common one-day tour, its structure is as follows: at 6 o'clock in the morning, tourists are picked up from hotels and taken to the bus station. It is very important when traveling to Machu Picchu not to forget to take your passport with you - it is checked without fail. Two hours by bus to Ollantaytambo station, 78 km from Cusco, transfer to the train, and another hour and a half to Aguas Calientes. From there, another half an hour by bus. In total, five and a half hours from the hotel door to the entrance to Machu Picchu.

The Expedition Backpacker tourist train is a very comfortable vehicle with comfortable easy chairs, panoramic windows on the roof, a toilet and a light snack that is offered to the passenger. The organization is extremely clear and well-coordinated, this top direction has been debugged by the Peruvians for a long time and works like a conveyor.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

The estimated cost of a one-day tour to Machu Picchu from Cusco is 250 USD per person. This includes the cost of tickets for buses and trains, entrance to the fortress, guide services, lunch, transfer to the hotel. If you are limited in time, then this may be the most suitable option for you. The downside of a one-day trip is that most of the time is spent on the road, which is also very tiring, and not on exploring Machu Picchu. The difference in the cost of a one-day and two-day tour is negligible.

The advantages of a two-day tour: when spending the night in the village of Aguas Calientes, tourists have the opportunity to visit Machu Picchu in the early hours before the influx of the main tourist mass, as well as climb to the very top of Mount Wayna Picchu. It should be borne in mind that a limited number of tourists are allowed on this mountain and only twice a day - at 7 and 10 in the morning.

The most economical option would be to purchase a combined three-day tour of Cusco-Machu Picchu, which includes hotel accommodation, transport and an excursion program. The cost of such a tour is about 370 USD per person based on double occupancy.

Machu Picchu Map