Discovering Machu Picchu

27 Jan 2013

There's a deeply mystical land nested 2.5km above sea level in the Urubamba Valley, South of Peru.

It was built by the Incas previous to the Spanish conquest of Peru as a sacred place - probably for the elite to live in - but it is thought that its inhabitants died of smallpox brought in from Europe. Because of its location, the Spanish weren't able to find it and so it remained untouched for centuries until an 11 year old local boy took Hiram Bingham there. In 1911 its discovery was announced.

Getting there today is a lot more straightforward with the right amount of adventurous. A short flight from Lima will take you to the magical city of Cuzco. From there you can either do treks for days with a guided tour (registered and controlled by the tourism ministry) or take the British-owned Peru Rail to the city of Aguas Calientes (newly renamed Machu Picchu city).

You can't help but feel a deep connection with this ancient land - and I promise it's not BS. You need at least a day to acclimatise to the altitude and rest (if you don't, you could get extremely ill and would have to be taken back to lower grounds). But two or three days in Cuzco are recommended to feel the amazingly spiritual vibes and enjoy the surroundings - amazing valleys and ancient sites that are as mind-blowing as Machu Picchu itself.

Aguas Calientes (Spanish for hot springs, as you can find these here!), is whole new world again. You can only get there by foot or by train so there are no cars there. It's a huge market surrounded by little houses, restaurants, a church and lots of massage parlours. All next to a railroad. And on the other side of town, across the bridge, the mega-luxurious Casa Andina hotel (still keeping in with traditions in architecture), which is a harsh juxtaposition to the life you see beneath.

To get to the city of Machu Picchu you can either get a bus or do the trek yourself. You can even climb to the top of the Wayna Pichu (the huge mount in the background in the pictures below) and get there through that entrance! The views take some understanding, and it's well worth paying a guide to explain the mysteries and stories behind these fantastic ruins. Take the day to wander around, sit about and read a book with the animals grazing nearby.

When you leave and head back to Aguas Calientes just at the feet of these mounts, go to some hot springs and enjoy a firewood pizza or some good Peruvian food at the Casa Andina hotel.

To plan a visit it is recommended that bookings are made well in advance (more than 6 months) as the trek to Machu Picchu has limited places each season to help preserve the area. Peru has a fantastic tourism ministry and a great team behind its brand, visit: for more info.


  1. Amaaaazing photos! =O Love the llama ;)


  2. These pictures leave me --wow-ed!
    Such great impressions! What a great selection of pictures; I find it super-difficult to name my favorite; they are all special! The one with the street artist trying to sell his pictures and with the lady photographed from the back are probably my favs if I had to name some... And are these alpacas?

    Thanks for your kind and thoughtful comment on my blog: That is amazing -- is he guest-writing here on your blog? I'd love to read it! How great that you have somebody to talk about these topics! I needed the internet (my blog in this case)to express my thoughts on it, but it seems that is also the right way as it results in a lot of reflection together with other bloggers! Thank you!

    Have a wonderful Sunday,


    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. Thanks Svenja!

      The ones in these pictures are llamas. Alpacas are generally a bit smaller and softer-featured with flatter noses and tiny ears.

      About the reflection... yes, it hit me that he's gathered valuable info on all these topics by reading all these books and the way he explains it is really insightful. I've got pictures of him whilst he talks about these things too so it's really interesting to see his expression haha!

      Thanks for dropping by x


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