Machu picchu, between mystic and real.

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Visiting the land of Incas is an experience people you have been there catalogue as mandatory. This mountain with a broad base was the final location of Inca civilization before its disappearance. Located at 7,970 ft above the sea level, in Cuzco Region, Peru; this city, as some archeologist have called it, was built on stone only. Due to its location, Machu Picchu was founded in 1911 by the American historian and lecturer Hiram Bingham. This place encloses magic, history, mysticism.

Image courtesy of Geraint Rowland at Flickr.com

Image courtesy of Geraint Rowland at Flickr.com

There are a lot of theories about what was Machu Picchu built for but there is one of them that is the most accepted theory among archeologists and historians. This theory says Pachacutec, the Emperor, governed Incas before they became the Empire they were. When Pachacutec discovered the land, in the 15th century, where Machu Picchu is settled, he ordered to build an urban complex.  Furthermore, administrative centers and agricultural complexes were also built by this civilization. Despite its location, Incas built around eight different roads that connected them with other civilizations for commerce purposes, best known as trueque.

The arrival to Machu Picchu is not easy since you have to take different transportations means to get there. Having Lima, the Peruvian capital city, as the starting point. You have two options for getting Cuzco, you can do it by plane or by bus. The flight will take you 1 hour 15 minutes and flights take off during the morning until the afternoon, in the evening there is no flights due to the weather. Airlines flying from Lima to Cuzco are LAN AIRLINES, TACA AIRLINES, PERUVIAN AIRLINES and STAR PERÚ AIRLINES. On the other hand, the bus trip takes 22 hours, without any stop for sleeping. Buses depart at 2pm, 5 pm and 5:30 pm. Bus companies are CRUZ DEL SOL, OLTURSA and ORMEÑO. In Cuzco you can spend a couple of days and visit this town that, as Machu Picchu, has a lot of historical places that are worthy to know. Furthermore, in Cuzco your body can get used to the weather and the altitude in order to avoid altitude sickness.

After visiting Cuzco, it is time to go to Machu Picchu. There are two different ways to get there, one is by train and the other is by bus, car and a little walk. Although this last option takes more time, it’s less expensive, you can save around the half of the costs traveling by train.

Getting by Train:

Trains depart from Poroy station or from Ollantaytambo station. The train takes you until Aguas Calientes, a city located down-hill Machu Picchu. The trip takes about 4:15 hours from Cuzco. And, there are a lot of companies but the most famous are INCA RAIL and PERU RAIL. Inca Rail for example has different kinds of services, Hiram Bingham, Vistadome and Expedition (also called Backpacker before).  The final Station is Machu Picchu town, and in the town you have to buy a bus ticket that takes you to the archeological park. It is recommended to buy the tickets in advance since this place is quite visited during the whole year.

Image courtesy of dgphilli at Flickr.com

Image courtesy of dgphilli at Flickr.com

Getting by the alternative option:

You have to arrive to Santa Teresa and then a short taxi-ride further is Hidroelectrica where you can take a train to Aguas Calientes or take a 2 and a half hour walk there. Cusco to Santa María is a 4-hour journey by minivan, or you can take a bus for a 5-hour drive but the half of the minivan price. The dirt road is narrow and winding, surrounded by deep hills. If you travel between June and November, you can take a walk to Santa Teresa along the river or take public transport from the main road (1 h 30 minutes). From here to Hidroeléctrica is a 25-minute journey by minivan or taxi. Hidroeléctrica is literally the end of the line for the railway, you can either walk or take a train ride to the town of Aguas Calientes. Even if this route allows travelers on a tight budget to reach Machu Picchu, it might be dangerous during the rainy season due to the high risk of avalanches.

Finally, you arrive to Machu Picchu and you there is no restrictions for walking so you can walk the different routes there are. Don’t miss La casa del Inka and if you are in good health, you can ascend El templo del sol. This last route is exigent but the landscapes over there is beautiful. Best photos are taken from there. In Machu Picchu you need time to walk around, so have a complete day right there and at the end, you can buy souvenirs at Machu Picchu pueblo.  

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