Things to do in Machu Picchu
Visiting Machu Picchu is a thing to do in itself, though while you’re at Machu Picchu, there are plenty of other activities that travelers can enjoy. From watching the sunrise to embarking on challenging hikes, there’s something for everyone.
Watch the Sunrise in Machu Picchu
To see the sunrise over Machu Picchu is an incredible experience. There are a couple of different ways travelers can watch the sunrise. They can choose to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. Though these hikes tend to start early (trying to beat the sun!) and require a ticket. For those who don’t want to hike, stay the night at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge (located right outside of the site entrance), wake up early, and enter the site. Find a comfortable spot and enjoy the epic views – really from anywhere you sit!
Hike to the Sun Gate
The Sun Gate, known as Inti Punku, was the gateway to Machu Picchu for the Incas. You can access the Sun Gate by either hiking the Inca Trail or entering the Machu Picchu site and following the wooden Inti Punku signs up a steady inclined path. While taking this path, you’ll pass by agricultural terraces, llamas, and end up at an incredible view of Huayna Picchu. If you choose to take the Inca Trail, you’ll feel just as the Incas did, as you enter Machu Picchu site for the first time, from the Sun Gate.
Climb Huayna Picchu
What most people think is Machu Picchu Mountain, is actually Huayna Picchu. Machu Picchu is the mountain you’re standing on when you’re looking at Huayna Picchu. Climbing Huayna Picchu is rather challenging. The trail is relatively short but very steep, and you can reach the summit in about 1 – 2 hours. While it can be a steep trail at certain points, the view that you’ll have of the mysterious lost city will be worth your while.
Hike Machu Picchu Mountain
Machu Picchu Mountain is a longer hike than Huayna Picchu and is slightly less challenging. It’s an easier trail to accomplish if you’re worried about your level of activity. When you hike Machu Picchu Mountain, you will be able to see fantastic views of Huayna Picchu and the ruins below.
Enjoy the Scenic Train Ride to Machu Picchu
The train ride to Machu Picchu Pueblo, or Aguas Calientes, is incredibly scenic. As you pass from the Sacred Valley through the Atlantic rainforest, you get views of soaring mountains, waterfalls, lush forest, the Urubamba River, and more. Onboard, you can enjoy a Pisco Sour, wine, or beer, and a delicious snack. No matter where you sit on the Perurail line, or the Belmond Hiram Bingham, there are plenty of windows allowing you to see the beautiful surroundings on your journey.
Things to See in Machu Picchu
The Temple of the Sun
There are plenty of spots in Machu Picchu where the Incas would give offerings and pay tribute to Mother Earth. The Temple of the Sun was a sacred place used and built by the Incas for ceremonies to pay tribute to the sun. The sun is considered to be responsible for the creation of life and all things, therefore the temple was incredibly important to the Incas.
The Inca Drawbridge
The Inca Drawbridge is another example of the architecture that the Inca builders were able to accomplish. The bridge was created out of stones and was used as an access point to Machu Picchu – some believe it was even used as a secret entrance. Arrange for a local, professional guide to lead you to the bridge, located in the southeastern part of Machu Picchu. On the journey to the drawbridge, you can enjoy views of the Urubamba River and the surrounding nature and wildlife.
While walking around Machu Picchu you’ll notice plenty of Llamas roaming around the agricultural terraces. You may see single Llamas, or if you’re lucky, a family of llamas. These beautiful creatures are super friendly (even if they do sometimes spit!), and you’re welcome to take photos with them as long as you’re respectful of the guidelines in place.
There are two levels of agricultural terraces in Machu Picchu. The terraces were used by the Incas to produce food, such as quinoa, potatoes, and corn. However, the terraces had a second purpose – in addition to providing an area for food production, the lower terraces also acted as a way to avoid erosion of the mountain. While walking around Machu Picchu, there’s no way you can miss seeing these terraces!
The Watchman’s Hut
The Watchman’s Hut rests at the top of multiple terraces, in the agricultural sector. The hut was used by the Incas as a guardhouse and ceremonial rock. Follow a guide to the Watchman’s Hut and learn the theories of why it was so important to the Incas, and enjoy the views of Machu Picchu while there!
The Intihuatana Stone, the Hitching Post of the Sun, was very special to the Incas. The beautifully carved rock was known as a ritual stone for the Incas and was used for astronomical purposes. Find the stone while walking around the lower part of the ruins. If the sun is shining you can stand close to the rock, and you’ll notice that your shadow is actually behind you – a fun trick due to the sun’s position!
Food & Drink in Machu Picchu
While there isn’t a specific delicacy or traditional dish that comes from Machu Picchu, we do know that the Incas used to produce quinoa, potatoes, and corn on the agricultural terraces. They also enjoyed Coca Tea, similar to green tea. Learn more about food and drink in Machu Picchu on your Peru tour.
Is Machu Picchu Safe?
Yes, Machu Picchu is safe to visit. There are no major safety considerations when visiting Machu Picchu. The area is safe and tourists are well looked after by the Peruvian authorities. You are also required to visit the site with a guide, upon your first visit. Therefore, you’ll be in great hands with a local expert.
The best time to visit Machu Picchu is from mid-April to June and from September to October. During these months, there is clear, dry weather in the Andes. It’s also generally less crowded, as these months are outside the peak travel months of July and August. Whether traveling by train to Machu Picchu, trekking the Inca Trail, or looking for that perfect sunrise from the Sun Gate, these are excellent times to visit, typically sunny by day and cool at night.
What is Machu Picchu Known for?
Machu Picchu is the main attraction. In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The site is known for its incredible landscape, towering mountains, lush forest, wildlife, and mysterious history.
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