The Lost Inca City of Manchu Picchu has been on the well trodden backpacker trail for the past 20 years and appeared on most ‘must see’ lists the world over, but in January 2010 a huge mudslide closed the site, putting this iconic destination on hold to visitors. After months of hard reconstruction and repair the area has reopened, so pack your hiking boots, camera and travel insurance – here’s our guide to one of the great wonders of the world.
Manchu Picchu Pictures
Most routes to Manchu Picchu take an international flight to the capital of Peru, Lima, and then hop on an internal flight to Cuzco. If you’re on an all-out Peruvian experience and Manchu Picchu is just one of a number of places on your list, taking your time and travelling by public transport is the way to experience a real taste of local life – whilst buses are unpredictable and unreliable they certainly proffer a sense of adventure.
Where to stay
Trekkers will no doubt spend a few nights under canvas; otherwise Cuzco is a great overnight spot for an early morning departure and the obligatory stop for the day tourist. The Sanctuary Lodge is the only place to stay at Machu Picchu itself, and whilst it’s in an amazing location it’s hardly at the heart of tradition.
The Manchu Picchu trek is a good four day climb and whilst the gradient will test most peoples fitness levels to the maximum, because it’s become such a popular trail there are amenities on the route to cater for the weary walker. Plus, if you don’t have the mobility or energy to actually climb, the Cuzco Train is the perfect solution – it might be bursting at the seams with camera toting tourists, but if you’re squeezed for time it’s the only way to ‘do’ Manchu Picchu in a day.
What to do
Hike and llama spot of course. Manchu Picchu is surrounded by rich rainforest and the longest mountain range in the world, the Andes. Cuzco, the Inca Capital, is also renowned as one of the most beautiful cities in South America and is a great place to recoup after or before the trek, pick up the train, or simply soak up a bit of culture via it’s small but perfectly formed selection of museums and sites.
What to see
If you’re taking in the full climb, the vistas that are afforded on the average altitude of 3050m are pretty amazing – key attractions along the route include the tricky first pass, also known as ‘Dead Woman’s Pass’, the Inca ruins of Llactapata, the ruins of Runquracay, and the Inca site of Phuyupatamarca. If you’re taking the train the views are still pretty spectacular, keep an eye out for the rapids of the Urubamba River and the Sacred Valley. Once you’re on site the options are endless, from the Royal Tomb and Intipunku, through to the Temple of the Sun and Sacristy.
Manchu Picchu Face
This picture is very likely to be manipulated in Photoshop but pretty cool…the second picture is just turned on it’s side so you can see the mystery face.
Map of Manchu Picchu