Machu Picchu, the fabled “Lost City of the Inca,” (and Quechua for “old mountain”) is a true masterpiece of the Inca civilization. Machu Picchu, built around 1450, lies 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of Cusco at 2,400 meters (7,875 feet) above the verdant Urubamba Valley.
The Inca ruins of Machu Picchu were rediscovered in 1911, beneath thick layers of jungle growth, by American explorer Hiram Bingham, aided by local Peruvians. Machu Picchu’s ruins remain so remarkably well preserved simply because the Spanish conquistadores never found them. Recently, Bingham’s alma mater Yale University returned 4,000 Inca treasures, mostly taken from Machu Picchu including pottery, bones and elaborate gold jewelry, to Peru.
Most travelers arrive at Machu Picchu via rail and bus, although another option is to hike in along the Inca Trail, capturing the sunrise over the UNESCO World Heritage Site at its most glorious. Machu Picchu Citadel is visually so rich that photo opportunities beckon at every turn. Most visitors spend at least one full day here, marveling at Machu Picchu’s architectural feats including the Temple of the Sun, with a narrow window perfectly situated to frame the sun on the first day of winter, and the Temple of the Condor with its multitude of tiny rooms.
The history-rich Sacred Valley of the Incas, located between Cusco and the Machu Picchu Citadel, gives travelers a good chance to acclimate to the high altitudes of the Andes. Here, green fields line the roads and small villages of indigenous people add color to the dramatic mountain scenery. Local markets, including the popular ones held at Chincero and Pisac offer an abundance of endearing folk art and local crafts.
Please note that pre- and post- Amazon cruise itineraries are not included in the Aqua Expeditions Amazon River cruise rates and are priced separately. We will be happy to recommend our preferred tour operators to arrange this component of your Peru holiday.