Machu Picchu is located 130 kilometers from the city of Cusco in the canyon formed by the Urubamba River, on the slopes of the mountain known as "Machu Picchu", which in Quechua means "old peak". The city was not originally known by this name, but its original name has been lost in time.
This archaeological complex, which is one of the wonders of the world, remained hidden in the mists and thick vegetation of the tropical forest until 1911, when its existence was made public by the American explorer Hiram Bingham. However, the site was known during the colonial period and the first years of the republican era, as evidenced by several documents of the period which record its location.
It was a sacred city where selected individuals lived who almost certainly belonged to the Inca nobility and the priesthood. Its inaccessibility mace it a particularly secure site and the surrounding scenery gave it an especially enigmatic character, nevertheless during the conquest, the Spanish never attacked the site, for the last refuge of the Incas was based at Vilcabamba rather than at Machu Picchu.
All the evidence we have seems to indicate that Machu Picchu was abandoned by all its inhabitants. They may have fled to the jungle areas when faced with the presence of the Spaniards. What is certain is that in the area surrounding the citadel there exist a number of other impressive citadels which were also abandoned, all of them with the same characteristics, with ceremonial shrines, agricultural terraces built over precipices, military sectors and royal palaces. These sites include Wiñay Wayna, Sayacmarca and Phuyupatamarca on the Inca highway to Machu Picchu, and Choquequirao to the northwest (as well as several others which have been recently discovered and investigated, or have yet to be discovered).
The city of Machu Picchu was divided into two sectors; the agricultural sector and the urban sector. The agricultural sector was composed of terraces which surrounded the site, particularly on the southern edge of the complex. The urban sector was separated from the agricultural sector by a ditch and wall which ended at a guarded entrance to which access was controlled.
The urban sector is composed of ceremonial edifices including the famous Temple of the Sun, together with royal palaces and the renowned Inti-huatana, which crowns the pyramid that stands to the north of the Sacred Plaza.
Hiram Bingham studied the site in detail and also carried out excavation work, during which he uncovered the remains of 173 individuals, the majority of which (150) were women.
The American explorer indicated that few remains of pottery, metalwork or textiles were found, and that he encountered evidence of sacking in different areas throughout the site.
This fact supports the theory that the site was abandoned. However, below the Temple of the Three Windows, adjacent to the Main Plaza, Bingham found several pieces of pottery scattered around the area. The explorer concluded that they were probably scattered there deliberately as part of a ritual ceremony of worship or sacrifice.
The urban sector concentrates a large number of buildings which served as dwellings. They face away from the city (to the east), facing the mountain known as Putucusi, and they are set at different levels. These buildings have two floors and they are constructed from finely finished stonework, although they are not built from large blocks. The second floors had a wooden base and the roofs were supported by wooden beams which were secured to cavities in the walls by ropes, The roofs were covered with thatch made from the coarse and water resistant local highland grass known as ichu.
The wood used in Inca constructions was brought from the tropical forest and was highly-prized. When the Incas abandoned a site (for strategic military reasons, when in danger or simply a loss of interest in the site), they took a number of things with them, ¡including the wood used in construction, which they would then use again.
The urban sector is composed of a series of streets, passageways and stairways which linked the buildings to each other, so that in some cases to arrive at one building it was necessary to pass through a series of other rooms. Clearly, the design was arranged in this way to provide greater security for certain sectors of the complex.
Destination Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is located 130 kilometers from the city of Cusco in the canyon formed by the Urubamba River, on the slopes of the mountain known as "Machu Picchu", which in Quechua means "old peak". The city was not originally known by this name, but its original name has been lost in time.
Choose your Machu Picchu Tour
The name Machu Picchu apparently means simply old or Ancient Mountain. With many legends and theories surrounding the position of the site, most archeologists agree that its sacred geography and astronomy were auspicious factors in helping the Inca Pachacuti decide where to build this citadel here at 2492m. It’s thought that agricultural influences as well as geo-sacred indicators prevailed, and that the site secured a decent supply of sacred coca and maize for the Inca nobles and priests in Cusco.
The discovery of Machu Picchu
Never discovered by the Spanish conquerors, for many centuries the site of Machu Picchu lay forgotten, except by local Indians and settlers, until it was found on July 24, 1911 by the US explorer Hiram Bingham. It was a fantastic find, not least because the site was still relatively intact, without the usual ravages of either Spanish conquistadores or tomb robbers. Accompanied only by two locals, Bingham left his base camp around 10 am and crossed a bridge so dodgy that he crawled over it on his hands and knees before climbing a precipitous slope until they reached the ridge at around midday. After resting at a small hut, he received hospitality from a local peasant who described an extensive system of terraces where they had found good fertile soil for their crops. Bingham was led to the site by an 11 -year-old local boy, Pablito Alvarez, but it didn´t take him long to see that he had come across some important ancient Inca terraces over a hundred of which had recently been cleared of forest for subsistence crops. After a little more exploration Bingham found the fine white stonework and began to realize that this might be the place he was looking for.
Origins of Machu Picchu
Bingham first theorized that Machu Picchu was the lost city of Vilcabamba, the site of the Incas last refuge from the Spanish conquistadors. Not until another American expedition surveyed the ruins around Machu Picchu in the 1940s did serious doubts begin to arise over this assertion, and more recently the site of the Incas' final stronghold has been shown to be Espiritu Pampa in the Amazon jungle.
Meanwhile, it was speculated that Machu Picchu was perhaps the best preserved of a series of agricultural centers that served Cusco in its prime. The city was conceived and built in the mid-fifteenth century by Emperor Pachacuti, the first to expand the empire beyond the Sacred Valley towards the forested gold-lands. With crop fertility, mountains and nature as sacred to the Incas, in agricultural center as important as Machu Picchu would easily have merited the sites fine stonework and temple precincts. It was clearly also a ritual center, given the layout and quantity of temples; but for the Incas it was usual not to separate things we consider economic tasks from more conventional religious activities. So, Machu Picchu represents to many archeologists the most classical and best-preserved remains in existence of a citadel used by the Incas as both a religious temple site and an agricultural (perhaps experimental) center.
The Sacred Valley winds through the eastern slopes of the Andes down to tropical mountain forests bordering the Amazon Rainforest. It’s here, some 50 mi (80 km) east of Cusco, that the Inca built Machu Picchu on a high saddleback ridge formed between Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountains. Surrounding dome-shaped peaks covered in thick green vegetation rise to towering heights. Far below, the Urubamba River flows along the valley floor past Aguas Calientes, the gateway town to Machu Picchu.
The Machu Picchu citadel rests high on a mountain ridge at 7,970 ft (2430 m) above sea level. Popular hikes go to the summits of Huayna Picchu (8,920 ft / 2,720 m) and Machu Picchu Mountain (10,100 ft / 3,080 m).
Located on the cusp of the Andes Mountains and upper Amazon basin, the mild subtropical climate of Machu Picchu is more humid than Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Day temperatures are warm and cool off, especially at night. Water never freezes at Machu Picchu. See Seasonal Info for more details.
Machu Picchu & Altitude Sickness
Altitude sickness is a common health concern for folks going to Machu Picchu. Everyone reacts differently, but severe reactions to high elevations are rare and hard to predict. Many travelers only experience minor symptoms, such as shortness of breath, headache, loss of appetite, or nausea, as a result of the altitude. Cusco and the Sacred Valley are at higher elevations than Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu Weather
Warm and humid during the day. Cool at night, though usually warmer than Cusco. Evening temperatures in the rainy season are warmer.
- Daytime: 68-80 F (20-27 C)
- Nighttime: 50-64 F (10-18 C)
Dry Season Vs. Rainy Season
- Dry season: April to October
- Rainy season: November to March
**Note that in this part of Peru, there’s no strict separation between the rainy and dry seasons. On the one hand, rain is possible at any time of year. On the other, even in the rainy season, clear blue skies are not uncommon after a rainstorm.
When is the best time to visit Machu Picchu?
- Travel during shoulder months (April, May, September, and October) for smaller crowds and generally good weather.
- The most popular time to visit Machu Picchu is during the dry season (April to October) when sunny blue skies are more common. June, July, and August tend to be the busiest months at Machu Picchu.
- Traveling to Machu Picchu during the rainy season (November-March) has benefits too. Of course there’s a higher chance of showers, but the ruins aren’t as crowded and flowers are in bloom.
The Temple of the Sun
The Temple of the Sun, also known as the Torreon, is a wonderful, semicircular, walled, tower-like temple displaying some of Machu Picchu’s finest granite stonework.
Constructed to incorporate polyhedrons and trapezoidal window niches, the temple's carved steps and smoothly joined stone blocks fit neatly into the existing relief of a natural boulder that served as some kind of altar and also marks the entrance to a small cave. A window off this temple provides views of both the June solstice sunrise and the constellation of the Pleiades, which rises from here over the nearby peak of Huayna Picchu. The Pleiades are still a very important astronomical Andean symbol relating to crop fertility: locals use the constellation as a kind of annual signpost in the agricultural calendar, giving information about when to plant crops and when the rains will come.
The Royal Tomb
Below the Temple of the Sun is a cave known as the Royal Tomb, despite the fact that no graves or human remains have ever been found there. In fact, it probably represented access to the spiritual heart of the mountains, like the cave at the Temple of the Moon.
The funerary rock
Retracing your steps 20m or so back from the Temple of the Sun and following a flight of stone stairs directly uphill, then left along the track towards Intipunku , brings you to a path on the right, which climbs up to the thatched guardian's hut. Ibis hut is associated with a modestly carved rock known as the funerary rock and a nearby graveyard where Hiram Bingham found evidence of many burials, some of which were obviously royal.
The Sacred Plaza
Arguably the most enthralling sector of the ruins, the Three-Windowed Temple (Templo de Tres Ventanas), part of the complex based around the Sacred Plaza (Plaza Sagrada), is located back down in the center of the site, the next major Inca construction after the Temple of the Sun. Dominating the southeastern edge of the plaza, the attractive Three-Windowed Temple has unusually large Windows looking east towards the mountains beyond the Urubamba River valley. From here it’s a short stroll to the Principal Temple (Templo Principal), so called because of the fine stonework of its three high main walls, the most easterly of which looks onto the Sacred Plaza. Unusually (as most ancient temples in the Americas face east), the main opening of this temple feces south, and white sand, often thought to represent the ocean, has been found on the temple floor, suggesting that it may have been allied symbolically to the Río Urubamba: water and the sea.
A minute or so uphill from the Principal Temple along an elaborately carved stone stairway brings you to one of the jewels of the site, the Intihuatana, also known as the "hitching” post of the sun". This fascinating carved rock, built on a rise above the Sacred Plaza, is similar to those created by the Incas in all their important ritual centers, but is one of the very few not to have been discovered and destroyed by the conquistadores.
This unique and very beautiful survivor, set in a tower-like position, overlooks the Sacred Plaza, the Río Urubamba and the sacred peak of Huayna Picchu. The Intihuatana´s base is said to have been carved in the shape of a map of the Inca Empire, though few archeologists agree with this. Its main purpose was as an astro-agricultural clock for viewing the complex interrelationships between the movements of the stars and constellations. It is also thought by some to be symbolic representation of the spirit of the mountain on which Machu Picchu was built - by all accounts a very powerful spot both in terms of sacred geography arid its astrological function. The Intihuatana appears to be aligned with four important mountains: the snowcapped mountain range of La Veronica lies directly to the east, with the sun rising behind its main summit during the equinoxes; directly south, 'though not actually visible from here, sits the father of all mountains in this part of Peru, Salcantay, a few days' walk away; to the west, the sun sets behind the important peak of Pumasillo during the December solstice; and due north stands the majestic peak of Huayna Picchu. The rock s evidently kept track of the animal cycles, with its basic orientation northwest to southeast, plus four vertices pointing to the four directions.
The Temple of the Moon
Accessed in the same way as Huayna Picchu, but about one-third of the way up another litle track leads to the left and down to the stunning Temple of the Moon (Templo de la Luna), hidden in a grotto hanging magically above the Río Urubamba, some 400rn beneath the pinnacle of Huayna Picchu. Not many visitors make it this far so save this for another day: it's at least another 45 minutes each way and not that easy-going at times). The guardian by the Sacred Rock will often take people for a small once you reach the temple, you'll be rewarded by some of the best stonework in the entire complex, the level of craftsmanship hinting at the site's importance to the Inca.
The temples name comes from the fact that it is often lit up by the moonlight, but some archeologists believe the structure was probably dedicated to the spirit of the mountain. The main sector of the temple is in the mouth old a natural cave, where there are five niches set into an elaborate wake-granite stone wall. There usually evidence - small piles of maize, coca leaves and tobacco - that people are still making offerings at these niches. In the centre of the cave there's a rock carved like a throne, beside which are five cut steps leading into die darker recesses, where you can see more carved rocks and stone walls, nowadays inaccessible. Immediately to the front of the cave is a small plaza with another cut-stone throne and an altar. Outside, steps either side of the massive boulder lead above the cave, from where you can see a broad, stone-walled room running along one side of the cave boulder. There are more buildings and beautiful little stone sanctuaries just down a flight of steps from this part of the complex.
If you don't have the time or energy to climb Huayna Picchu or visit the Temple of the Moon, head back to the guardian's hut on the other side of the site and take the path below it, which climbs gradually for thirty minutes or so, up to Intipunku, the main entrance to Machu Picchu from the Inca Trail. This offers an incredible view over the entire site, with the unmistakable shape of Huayna Picchu in the background.
Machu Picchu Pueblo
Many people base themselves at tile settlement of MACHU PICCHU PUEBLO (previously known as Aguas Calientes), connected to Machu Picchu by bus, in order to visit the ruins at a more leisurely pace or in more depth. It’s warm, humid climate and surrounding landscape of towering mountains covered in cloud forest make it a welcome change from Cusco. The town's explosive growth has pretty well reached the limits of the valley here; there's very little flat land that hasn't been built on or covered in concrete. Not surprisingly, this boom town has a lively, bustling feel and enough restaurants and bars to satisfy a small army.
The thermal baths
The main attraction in these parts - apart from Machu Picchu itself- is the natural thermal bath, which is particularly enjoyable after a few days on the Inca Trail or a hot afternoon up at Machu Picchu. You can find several communal baths of varying temperatures right at the end of the main drag of Avenida Pachacutec, around 750m uphill from the town's small plaza.
Machu Picchu Museum
The Machu Picchu Museum is close to the municipal campsite, at the start of the climb and bus route up to the main ruins. The museum displays exhibits previously on show in Cusco´s museums, including copper and bronze building tools, multimedia and photographs, as well as displays on Inca metallurgy and on the local flora and fauna.
The ‘temple’ derives ¡its name from the massive solidity and perfection of its construction, The damage to the rear right corner is the result of the ground settling below this corner rather than any inherent weakness in the masonry itself.
House of the High Priest
Opposite the Principal Temple.
Behind and connected to the Principal Temple lies this famous small building. It has many well-carved niches, per-haps used for the storage of ceremonial objects, as well as a carved stone bench.
The Sacristy is especially known for the two rocks flanking its entrance; each is said to contain 32 angles, but it's easy to come up with a different number when-ever you count them yourself.
A scenic but level walk from the Hut of the Caretaker takes you right past the top of the terraces and out along a narrow, cliff-clinging trail to the Inca drawbridge. In under a half-hour's walk, the trail gives you a good look at cloud-forest vegetation and an entirely different view of Machu Picchu. This walk is recommended, though you'll have to be content with photographing the bridge from a distance, as someone crossed the bridge some years ago and tragically fell to their death.
Wayna Picchu is the steep cone-shaped mountain at the back of the ruins. At first glance, it would appear that it's a challenging climb, but it's not technically difficult - although the ascent is steep. The path zigzags up the side of the mountain and lands at a small set of Inca constructions at the top.
Part of the way up, a marked path plunges down to your left, continuing down the rear of Wayna Picchu to the small Temple of the Moon. The trail is easy to follow, but involves steep sections, a ladder and an overhanging cave, which is a bit tricky to get past. The descent takes about an hour and the ascent back to the main Wayna Picchu trail is longer. But it's spectacular: the trail drops and climbs steeply as it hugs the sides of Wayna Picchu before plunging into the cloud forest. Suddenly, you reach a cleared area where the small, very well-made ruins are found. From here, another cleared path leads up behind the ruin and steeply onward up the back side of Wayna Picchu.
ccess to Wayna Picchu is limited to 400 people per day - the first 200 in line are let in at 7am, and another 200 at 10am. A ticket (S24) may only be obtained when you purchase your entrance ticket.
These spots sell out a week in advance in low season and far sooner in high season, so plan accordingly.
Cerro Machu Picchu is a very good alternative to this climb.
Temple Of The Cóndor
The Temple of the Condor is situated in the eastern part of the urban sector of the city and its name derives from the resemblance between its design and the form of the Andean condor. It would seem that this area of Machu Picchu served as a prison or punishment cells. In the interior of the structure there exists a series of subterranean cells, and above a design resembling the wings of a condor, there is a series of Windows which appear to have been cells, with holes drilled into their sides where the hands of prisoners would have been tied.
The condor was a sacred bird for the Incas, a god that was worshiped throughout the Inca state. Given that the condor is a carrion eater, it is possible that sacrifices were made here to honor the god by offering it the bodies of enemies who were tortured and executed at this site. However, this is mere speculation made by some researchers in their efforts to explain the purpose of this structure.
Spanish is the official language of Aguas Calientes, the gateway town to Machu Picchu. Most hotel representatives, ticket sales operators, and staff aboard the train to Machu Picchu speak Spanish and English. Machu Picchu tours are conducted in many languages.
The currency of Peru is called the Nuevo Sol. Prices are abbreviated as S/.(# amount). The Sol circulates in small copper-colored 10, 20 and 50 centavos and larger 1, 2 and 5 coins. Bills are produced in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 Soles. There is only one ATM in Aguas Calientes and no ATM up at the Machu Picchu citadel. Some restaurants accept US dollars for payment and give you any leftover change in Soles (although the exchange rate might not be the best).
Tipping in Peru is accepted practice and a great way to show your appreciation. Of course, tip at your own discretion.
Tour guides & trekking staff tipping recommendations
- Half Day Tour: 10-30 Soles per person
- Full Day Tour: 20-60 Soles per person
* The tip ranges represent a total amount that varies on the number of people in your tour and can be divided amongst everyone.
Machu Picchu & Quechua Beliefs
The Inca didn’t simply chose the location for Machu Picchu for the breathtaking views. In Inca mythology, natural forms and materials, including Andean peaks, are holy and have a life. Many structures within the site where built to honor their beliefs and the sacred mountain spirits, or apus, that surround the citadel. There is no written documentation from Inca times since they didn’t have a system of writing, but many of the cultural practices of the Inca live on through their descendants, the Quechua people.
The Inca built a pathway from the main citadel at Machu Picchu, up to the summit of Huayna Picchu (or Young Mountain in Quechua) which is believed to have been a place of worship for high priests. Among temples and terraces atop Huayna Picchu, a carved rock formation called the “Throne of the Inca” faces directly south to the apu Salkantay. Apu Salkantay is one of twelve sacred apus, or sacred spirits, who serve as protectors of the Quechua people and their crops and livestock.
The Sacred Rock is a large polished monolith rock resting upon a pedestal just before the checkpoint for the Huayna Picchu hike. An offset triangular shape was carved into the top of Sacred Rock and mirrors the formation of Putucusi Mountain behind it. Although the specific purpose for this site has been lost to time, locals today continue to pay homage to their mountain spirits by leaving coca leaf offerings.
At the Temple of the Condor at Machu Picchu, two large boulders create the bird’s expanded wings and stones laid out on the ground make its head, beak, and collar. The Inca believed that when a person died their soul was carried to eternity on the wings of the condor. Present-day Quechua beliefs continue to honor this animal who connects them and the cosmos.
In present times, Machu Picchu continues to be a spiritual haven for the Quechua people and travelers from all over the world respect its otherworldly essence.
How to get to Machu Picchu
If travelling all the way to Machu Picchu from Poroy near Cusco, Ollantaytambo or Urubamba by train you'll get off at Machu Picchu Pueblo station, located in the neatest town to the ruins, which has experienced explosive growth over the last decade or so. You walk through a craft market area from the station and over a footbridge; below the bridge you'll see the ticket office and buses. It's from here that you can catch one of the buses to the ruins. When departing, if you don't already have a ticket, buy one from the railway station ticket office, open from around 5am. Destinations Ollantaytambo (6-12 daily; 2hr-2hr 30min); Poroy (3-6 daily; 3-4hr); Urubamba (occasionally scheduled;2-3hr).
From Machu Picchu Pueblo
The office selling bus tickets to Machu Picchu is within a few minutes' walk of the railway station; just go through the market stalls and cross the Km Aguas Calientes by a footbridge. Tickets can be bought just below this from a small window, where there's usually, queue to help identify it, and from where buses usually depart. The first buses leave at 5.20am and continue every 10min or so according to demand until about 4pm, returning continuously until the last bus at 5.30pm (S/25 one way, S/Ml return, children under 4 half-price). Tickets are stamped will the date, so you have to retum the same day.
An alternative option to the train to Machu Picchu is to take the Turismo Ampay bus from Cusco (Urb. Pucutupampa B-11, Santiago; T2457344; S/15) to Santa Maria (5 daily; 6-9hr), which goes via Ollantaytambo before crossing the mountains east of the Urubamba Valley. from the high pass at Abra Malaga, the bus drops down to ímta María. From here there are colectivos (1hr; S/10) to the larger settlement of Santa Teresa, from where it is possible to walk to Machu Picchu (see below).
From Machu Picchu Pueblo
It's possible to walk from Machu Picchu Pueblo to the ruins, but it'll take one and a half to three hours, depending on how fit you are and whether you take the very steep direct path or follow the more roundabout paved road. From Santa Teresa If you've taken the bus from Cusco to Santa Teresa ,you can do the rest of the journey to Machu Picchu on foot. From Santa Teresa you follow the Río Urubamba upstream for 8km (1hr 30min-2hr) to a hydroelectric power station. Colectivos sometimes follow this route (20min; S/3), though the road is frequently washed away in the height of the rainy season (Dec-March/April). Continue upriver from here to an INC hut where you need to register, then follow the path along the railway line a further 10-11km (2-3hr) gently uphill to the site of Machu Picchu and, after another 2km, to Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes).
Book a Tour guide
Our professional tour guides cover the main sights and will give you an insider’s perspective on the myths and legends of the Incan city. Balance it out with some free time to explore the site on your own.
Hike the Inca Trail
Trekking Peru’s most famous trail is at the top of many travellers’ bucket list. You can feel real sensations of freedom and peace as you follow in the footsteps of the Incas and get a chance to experience the dramatic ups and downs (literal and figurative) of this sacred pilgrimage through the Andes.
Climb the Sun Gate
Inti Punku, or the Sun Gate, is the fascinating entrance to Machu Picchu from the Inca Trail. From here, you can appreciate the beautiful scenery of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu Mountain. According to historians, this entrance was used as a gate to control the number of people entering the citadel. During solstice, on December 23, the sun comes through this door and illuminates each ancient stone. This event makes witnesses feel inspired, contemplate the citadel and even meditate.
Hike the Wayna Picchu Mountain
The famous Wayna Picchu Mountain is a daunting but rewarding task. Meaning “young peak” in Quechua, it is the smaller of the two summits overlooking the Incan city. Wayna Picchu can only be climbed by 400 visitors a day and you will need between 45 minutes to 90 minutes to climb the 500 metres to the summit. To reach the summit, you have to climb steep stairways flanking the side of a precipice, a challenge that’s not suitable for the faint-hearted. Once you get to the top, you’ll have a strong feeling of freedom, that you’re on top of the world and can almost touch the sky. The entirety of Machu Picchu lies under your feet, revealing the splendid shape of a condor, one of the sacred animals from Incan cosmology. Further on from the summit, other mysteries are yours to explore. These include caves where mummies found their final resting place. Your spirit will float while the wind tickles your skin before facing the steep cliffs on your way down once again.
Although there is an overwhelming choice of places to stay in Machu Picchu Pueblo, there can be a lot of competition for lodgings during the high season (June-Sept), when large groups of travelers often turn up and take over entire hotels. Corning to town on an early train will give you sore increased choice in where to stay, but for the better places try and book at least a week or two, if not months, in advance.
The following are our top choices for hotels in Machu Picchu.
Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel
Address: Hermanos Ayar Avenue, Mz 1-Lt 3, Aguas Calientes.
The Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel is a family accommodation with extensive experience in the luxury hospitality. Sumaq means "beautiful" in Quechua, and the name is apt for this five-star lodging, Sumaq is immersed in dense vegetation that is the entryway to the enigmatic archeological monument of Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
The Sumaq Hotel successfully recreates the aesthetics of the Inca culture in a comfortable and sophisticated setting. The entire staff hails from this region of Peru and is highly trained to make your stay enjoyable as well as enlightening; this hotel offers all the amenities and high level of service that travellers can expect.
Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo
Address: Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu.
The Inkaterra Asociacion was founded to conserve the environment, ecosystems, cultural, archaeological and natural resources and to maintain an ecological balance. It also works to support Peru’s cultural identity and sustainable development. Part of Inkaterra profits are invested in the association activities, such as: environmental education to local kids in Machu Picchu pueblo, research programs and management of an orchid garden in the hotel with over 300 species, as well as a rescue and preservation project of the Spectacled Bear, a highly threatened species.
Belmond Sanctuary Lodge Machu Picchu
Address: In Machu Picchu.
This luxurious lodge is the only accommodation located adjacent to the citadel of Machu Picchu, which can offer you the chance to avoid the crowds and be the first and last visitor during the day to explore this wonderful Inca site. By taking a room at the sanctuary, you will have access to the site during quiet periods.
You can take dinner on the terrace while enjoying the mountain views and order from a menu that specializes in local cuisine. The lodge itself has a strict eco policy and is careful to the fragile nature of the site.
El Mapi Hotel by Inkaterra
Address: Pachacutec Avenue, Aguas Calientes.
The "El Mapi" hotel offers an efficient and friendly people into a pleasant atmosphere; here you will be welcomed along with other global guests, relax in a wholesome ambience after your long visit to the Machu Picchu archaeological site.
El Mapi hotel offers a blend of classic, modern, restored and recycled materials. Here you will feel the lobby’s flowing vitality. Its lofty ceilings, panoramic windows and an open cafeteria layout allows you to enjoy the sense of space, the natural light suffused through the fence of tall eucalyptus trunks into an ambience which gives its guests the effect of harmony and wellbeing.
Casa del Sol
Address: Imperio de los Incas Urb. # 608, Aguas Calientes.
This romantic spa hotel lies in the heart of sacred lands. At 5 minutes from the train station and opposite to the bus station of Machu Picchu.
The Hotel counts of a Resto-Bar named "Manka", where is posible to see the most beautiful views of the Vilcanota River, where its guests can enjoy delicious flavors of Peruvian cuisine based on Andean products. In addition, its "Kintu" Spa is the place to be for rest and relaxation, offering body scrubs, hydrotherapy, Turkish bath/hammam, body treatments, as well as massages, facials and massage treatment rooms. There is also a bar/lounge where guests can enjoy drinks after a long day.
Tierra Viva Machu Picchu
Address: Av. Hermanos Ayar N°401, Machu Picchu.
Tierra Viva Machu Picchu hotel strategic location ensures our clients the best experience possible of the amazing Inca citadel. Our facilities are located in the quietest area of Aguas Calientes, facing the Urubamba River and surrounded by the Forest of Clouds. We have exclusively at your disposal, a bus stop from where our clients can directly take the bus to Machu Picchu or get to the archeological site after a 60 minute walk.
Modern style, our Hotel has 43 spacious and comfortable rooms, a lounge with a fireplace, a breakfast room and a bar to relax and enjoy some drinks after a day of adventures.
Taypicala Machu Picchu
Address: Pachacutec Avenue # 808, Aguas Calientes.
The Taypikala Boutique Machu Picchu is a beautiful and rustic building situated into a privileged location, surrounded by life and nature that invites reflection and contemplation of the creator's work. The Taypikala Boutique Machupicchu seeks to meet the needs of its customers by providing high quality service and welfare required by guests to achieve a good stay of relaxation, vitality and spirituality in Machu Picchu.
There is a large dining area outside, relax with a cocktail at the bar, or if you're tired from your day in the mountains, you can order room service. Once your meal arrives, you can eat at the table provided in your room.
La Cabaña Machupicchu
Address: Pachacuteq Avenue # 805, Aguas Calientes.
The Hotel is located at the foot of the imposing mountain of Machu Picchu and along the Vilcanota River, in the heart of bohemian Machu Picchu Pueblo, better known as “Aguas Calientes”. La Cabaña Machu Picchu Boutique Hotel is a warm, cozy and familiar accommodation and also a great spot for a romantic get-away. It has a rustic décor with an environmental style that provides connection with the culture and nature of Machu Picchu. In addition, it provides a personalized service with skilled and friendly staff. Its main satisfaction is to make its guest feel comfortable, relaxed and happy in the hotel.
Casa Andina Classic Machu Picchu
Address: Imperio de Los Incas Urb. E - 34, Aguas Calientes.
Guests can start their day with a tasty, buffet-style breakfast. The breakfast includes seasonal fruit, cheese, ham, bread, juice, coffee, cereal, and among others. Throughout the rest of the day, you can order your lunch at the restaurants situated nearby. Meals incorporate local ingredients into international cuisine and include quinoa, trout, alpaca, pizza, sandwiches, and deserts.
The hotel features 54 rooms spread over 5 stories. The rooms are clean and simple, and equipped with the right range of amenities. Also have a private bathroom with a hot-water rain shower, including a hair dryer and toiletries.
Address: Las Orquideas Street # M-24, Aguas Calientes.
The Inti Punku Machu Picchu hotel has been operating since 2010, featuring a clean, crisp décor in a quiet setting yet conveniently located right near the train station and the handicraft market, with experience of more than five years in the market.
This establishment meets the expectations of its guests need a good resting place at affordable prices. The Inti Punku Inn offers all the comforts and amenities that you can find in a 3-star hotel, also with a best bilingual staff that is a feature of our trademark.
Eating and Drinking
Café Internet Restauran
Córner of Contisuyo. Serves coffee, omelets, pizzas, trout and spaghetti, among other dishes, and has fast internet access.
Av Pachacutec 156. A chain restaurant serving reasonable meals (their specialty being pizzas) and sometimes playing rock music. Daily 10am-10pm.
C Huanacaure 180. By far the best restaurant in town, Costandino combines the best of Andean, Italian, Thai and Argentinian cooking. Both main dishes and sweets (try the passion fruit pudding) are exceptional, all made with as many local fresh ingredients as possible, and worth every calorie. Good wines and breakfasts, too.
El Gowmet Grill
Av Pachacutec 138.. A rather pretentious name for a pizzeria, though the service is good and they have a range of cocktails, as well as international dishes.
Av Pachacutec 20. The Machu Picchu outpost of this well-known chain serves up good veggie meals such as plain salads, squash and quinoa soup.
El Indio Feliz
Lloque Yupanqui Lote 4m-12. This place serves exceptional three- or four-course meals of French and local dishes at remarkably inexpensive prices; try to reserve a table as far in advance as possible.
Restaurant El Mamu
Av Pachacutec.. This restaurant has a nice open dining area (sometimes doubling up as a dance space which gets quite lively at night), and specializes in trout and pizza.
Toto's House Restaurant
Av Imperio de los Incas. A vast restaurant with great views and some tables out front by the rail tracks; they offer an expensive but quite good buffet lunch every day.
How to get to Machu Picchu
You have 2 options to reach the citadel:
- You can take the train from Poroy Train Station (25 minutes from Cusco) or Ollanta Train Station (70 minutes from Cusco).
- Alternatively, you can hike the Inca Trail for 4 days.
What to Bring
- We recommend you carry a small backpack with sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat, a refillable water bottle, good walking shoes, extra cash and snacks.
Book your Tickets in Advance
- You should make your preparations some time prior to your intended departure (2 months in advance at least).
- When you arrive to Peru, our representative will give you a tour pack with all the tickets included in your program.
- If you want any extra tours, let us to know so that we can book it.
- In the highlands there are two defined seasons, dry and rainy. During the northern hemisphere’s summer months (May to October), the Andean countryside is at its best and days are very hot and dry, while nights are always cold.
- Machu Picchu is located in the Peruvian jungle so its humidity is higher than that of Cusco. We suggest you to bring all kinds of clothes to best deal with this.
- Take protections against the cold (any time of the year) and bring sunscreen to avoid intense solar radiation.
Getting to and around Machu Picchu
- Coming from Cusco, the train will bring you to the small town of Aguas Calientes, only five blocks in size in any direction.
- There are no cars in this town, so you have to walk (5 minutes) to the bus station.
- The bus from the town to the entrance of Machu Picchu takes 25 minutes (buses operate from 05:30-17:30).
- Once inside, be prepared to walk up and down steep stone stairs and dirt paths.
- Keep in mind that there are plenty of hiking opportunities inside the sanctuary and around the town of Aguas Calientes.
- Every year, visits to Machu Picchu increase so everybody needs to preserve and protect this sanctuary.
- Be sure not to litter and be respectful of local customs and traditions.
- Machu Picchu is contained in the Amazon Rainforest so if you are the type of traveller who enjoys wildlife and nature, you will have the opportunity to discover more of the jungle.
- Daily flight connections between Lima, Cusco and Puerto Maldonado (southern Amazon) make this an easy option to choose.