Listed as one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the World’, Machu Picchu has made its mark as one of the most popular tourist destinations on the global level. With its breath-taking scenery and rich landscape, complete with mountains, deserts, beaches and rainforest, this Incan ruin city in Peru provides travellers views to remember for a lifetime.
One often pictures Machu Picchu in its prime, with clear skies and a pleasant weather. However, the city cannot be found in this state throughout the year; one can only enjoy the picturesque landscape at its peak in Peru’s dry season, which is between May and October. This period provides an ideal background for a wonderful trip, with its thin morning mist and rare rains. Visiting the place in the rainy season might ruin the trekking experience, with heavy fog and shrouded ruins.
Places to Visit in Machu Picchu
1. The Sun Gate (Inti Punku)
The Sun Gate is the ideal spot for catching the beautiful Machu Picchu sunrise. It is considered to be one of the most important sites in the city, with the steps leading to the Gate believed to have been used as a control port for people entering and exiting the area.
2. Huayna Picchu
Climbing Huayna Picchu provides the bird-eye view of Machu Picchu which we often find plastered on souvenirs and graffiti. The climb also counts as a fun activity, since one doesn’t need any technical skills to accomplish it!
3. Temple of the Sun
Temple of the Sun demonstrates some of the finest stone work in all of Machu Picchu. It has been assumed that it was possibly used as an anatomical observatory. It also has several spaces for placing offerings.
4. Royal Tomb- Palace of the Princess
Described by Hiram Bingham, the discoverer of Machu Picchu, as ‘the finest wall of all Americas’, the Royal Tomb is located right next to the Temple of the Sun. The structure has tall niches for offerings, with a cave-like structure in the base, which led to it being referred to as a ‘Tomb’, although no bodies have ever been found here.
One of the most recognizable locations, Intihuatana was used as a sundial by the Indica people in order to predict solstices. Sitting directly in front of the Huayana Picchu, the shape of the pillar rocks of both structures are similar.
Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu
June to August marks the peak visiting time, so visitors might have to face long queues and crowds. Thus, the best time to plan a trip to Machu Picchu begins from April through May and from August to October, when the weather is dry and pleasant. This period is also low on tourism, which means flight and accommodation also remain relatively cheap.
Things to do in Machu Picchu
1. Trekking via the Inca Trail
Trekking along the Inca Trail is considered as the classic trek option to travel to Machu Picchu, though it requires prior bookings. Only 500 people are allowed on the trail each day, and must be accompanied by a professional guide. The following timeline should be kept in mind while booking the Inca Trail:
- Visiting in December/January: book 5 weeks in advance
- Visiting in April, October or November: book 8-10 weeks in advance
- Visiting between June and August: book 3-4 months in advance
2. Taking a Photo from the Caretaker’s Hut
The Caretaker’s Hut is one of the most popular spots for taking photogenic pictures with Machu Picchu’s beautiful landscape as the backdrop.
3. Checking Out the Prison Group and Temple of Condor
The Prison Group is a fascinating jumble of cells below and above the ground, from where the Temple of Condor can be seen, which resembles the head of a Giant Bird.
Places to Stay in Machu Picchu
Although the Machu Picchu site itself does not harbour any places for stay, Aguas Calientes, just two hours away, offers excellent stay options. For those looking for upscale places, Inkaterra, with its gourmet dining and hot tub facilities proves to be a good option. La Cabana is a more mid-range option, suitable for backpackers and younger crowds, while Andina Luxury offers comfortable, family-friendly suites. Aguas Calientes also has eateries like Indio Feliz and Chez Maggy, perfect for a quick bite before setting off on the hike.
The Inca Capital, Cusco, is another option worth exploring. Important sites like Inca palace of Saksaywaman, the Coricancha temple and the impressive colonial-era cathedral make it visit-worthy.
Nightlife in Machu Picchu
Cusco is known throughout Peru as one of the cities with the most vibrant nightlife. The Plaza Da Armas and Imperial City offer a wide range of bars and clubs which can be perfect for letting loose, before embarking on the trek to Machu Picchu.
The following clubs offer the best night tourism:
1. Mama Africa:
The most popular nightclub in Cusco, it provides a setting for both Peruvians and foreigners to tap to the beats of Salsa, Techno or Latin Rhythms. It remains open from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.
2. Ukukus Bar:
The Ukukus Bar has free admission, where visitors can enjoy live art and music sessions. This space mixes culture with parties. It remains open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. from Monday to Friday, 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. on Saturday and from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. on Sundays.
3. La Chupiteria:
This small site has excellent music, alcohol and a hilarious atmosphere, perfect for younger crowds. Table games are also available for entertainment. It remains open from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. on all days.
4. Nuevo Mundo Draft Bar:
This Bar is a hub for lovers of craft beers, having high quality beers along with an extensive menu. Delicious food options like hamburgers and pizzas are served fresh with the incredible views of the Plaza de Armas. It remains open from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. on all weekdays, and from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. on weekdays.
A centre of wonderful history and architecture paired with a vibrant nightlife and enhanced culture, Machu Picchu provides the perfect summer experience to its visitors. Be it a family, friends or solo trip, Machu Picchu can be home to all! Pair your trip with good research, and this Wonder of the World will be a memorable experience.