Machu Picchu Will Live Long in Your Memory

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For many people who are thinking of travelling to South America there is one place more than any other which attracts their attention and gets them dreaming of setting foot in this exciting continent; Machu Picchu.

The fabled lost city of the Incas isn’t lost anymore and lots of tourists make their way there every year. It is as exciting and as memorable as you have been told that it is and is sure to be one of the places which linger most in your memory once you are back home again.

The Planning

You will want to base yourself in the city of Cusco for the walk and you should make sure that you arrive a few days before you plan the trek. There a couple of reasons for doing this. First of all, Cusco is a fascinating city in its own right. This was the centre of the Inca Empire and its importance was such that the name translates as “navel of the world”. It is a beautiful place with a huge amount of interesting things for tourists to do and some incredible buildings to see. When the Spanish arrived they knocked down the Inca buildings but on some of the structures you will see that the Incan foundations were so well built – even without cement and modern tools – that the Spanish conquistadores simply couldn’t knock them down.12 Instead, the newcomers built on top of them and this led to buildings such as the one on Hatun Rumiyoc street in which there is a massive 12 angled stone which even modern builders would struggle to fit so perfectly. The other reason for coming here a few days before the walk is to get used to the altitude. Cusco sits at an altitude of 3,400 meters and the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu rises to over 4,000 metres in parts, so you will be short of breath and may feel unwell for the first couple of days.

The Different Ways to Arrive

Once you are in Cusco there are a couple of different ways of getting to Machu Picchu. There is a train you could take if you are short of time but by far the most interesting way to get there is by trekking. You will need to do this in an organised group and this will include porters, cooks and a guide. The trek lasts 4 or 5 days and isn’t really as difficult as you might think. The distance isn’t too great and you will not cover more than about 25 miles from start to distance. What makes the route challenging is the fact that the altitude takes your breath away as you climb up the winding trails. The cold nights don’t help much either. However, this is all worth it when you arrive to the Puerta del Sol and see the sun rise over the ancient ruined city. Most of the travel agencies in Cusco offer very similar packages for this trek but if you can pay a little bit more for the trek you should enjoy better food and maybe more comfortable sleeping facilities. There are a limited number of people allowed on the trail at any one time (currently 500 including guides and porters) so book in advance to be sure of getting a place.

inca trailThe Place

For many people the trek to Machu Picchu is even more exciting than the city itself. Also, after 4 days of trekking many of the new arrivals just want to lie down and relax for a couple of hours. However, your guide from the trek will probably give you a tour of the place and it is well worth paying attention to this. Among the stand out parts of the city are the temple of the sun and the room of three windows. If you want a different view of the city and some great pictures then you could up to the nearby Huayna Picchu. After the day is over you will head back to Cusco and onto what other adventure you have lined up next, but with some unforgettable memories of this magical place.

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