In this post, I put all you need to know about the Inca Ruins. Visiting South America was a dream I had wanted to fulfill for a long time. About a year earlier, I made my travel bucket list. I put Machu Picchu on it, known as the famous Inca Ruins.
You will learn the most important information: where the lost city of Incas is located and what it actually was. Are you planning a trip to Peru? Get practical advice: when is the best time to go and how to get to Machu Picchu? Do you know why the Incas left the mysterious city? You can find that out in this post, too.
Where is Machu Picchu located in Peru?
You also need to know that Machu Picchu is located over 2000 meters above sea level, on a pass in the Andes Mountains, more precisely, Peruvian Andes. The Urubamba River surrounds it on three sides. Another factor that makes it difficult to build a city there is the humid climate, which causes the slopes of the mountains to slide. And that, among other reasons, is why Machu Picchu is one of the seven wonders of the world in 2007. They designated Machu Picchu a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
Top facts about Machu Picchu you should know
This is a collection of the most important facts about Machu Picchu to help you learn about the circumstances and operation of the Inca Empire. The site is one of the major pre-Columbian ruins that has remained intact.
They did not know the existence of Machu Picchu until 1911. Before that, no one knew of its existence. Yale University professor Hiram Bingham rediscovered it.
Who were the Incas?
The Incas were best known for establishing their state in Pre-Columbian America, centered in what is now Peru between 1438 and 1533. They represented the pinnacle of the Inca civilization. However, their culture flourished from the 11th century to the mid-16th century. Before 1438, we knew the Inca State as the Kingdom of Cuzco. The Incas used conquest and peaceful assimilation to include the territory of present-day Peru, then much of western South America, focusing on the Andean mountain range.
We knew the Inca state as the Kingdom of Cuzco before 1438. The Incas used conquest and peaceful assimilation to conquer present-day Peru. Moreover, they communicated in the Quechua language, which is now spoken by over 11 million people in the Andes from Argentina to Ecuador and Colombia. It is the official language of Peru and Bolivia (along with Spanish).
What century was Machu Picchu built?
How old is Machu Picchu? They built the city in the second half of the 15th century. Afterward, it served as the major ceremonial center, but also as an economic and defensive center. Significantly, priests, representatives of the Incan aristocracy, soldiers, and guardians of the local temples inhabited it.
The city comprised two parts. In the upper part, called hanman, were located: the temple of the sun, the royal tomb, the royal palace, and Intihuatana, the greatest Incan sacredness. Furthermore, the lower section housed thatched Inca dwellings and manufacturing workshops. On the steep slopes surrounding the city were cultivated terraces 2 to 4 m wide, with vertical walls between them built of stone.
They used the city for around 80 years. Incas left it due to damage elsewhere in the Inca State. There is also a theory that the inhabitants of the city died of smallpox brought to these areas by European travelers, which happened before the conquistadors appeared nearby.
Daily life at the royal estate of Machu Picchu
During the time Machu Picchu functioned as a royal estate, up to 750 people lived there. Who lived in Machu Picchu? Most of them were servants (called yanakuna). In fact, they performed many tasks for the Inca, the Inca queen, and the priests. We can say that they may have owned property and sometimes even had their farms and ranches. They were not slaves.
Obviously, much of the community living at Machu Picchu were immigrants from various backgrounds. Additionally, they composed their diets of varying ingredients like maize, potatoes, cereals, legumes, and fish.
The most recent food of these people differed primarily in its higher corn content and lower fish content. Nevertheless, some inhabitants came from coastal areas. Fish was the major food for them. The move to Machu Picchu resulted in corn becoming a staple in the diet.
Machu Picchu was home not only to people. In addition, it was also for animals. Scientists found several animal bones that did not occur naturally in the area. Most of the bones were from llamas and alpacas, which were naturally found much higher than Machu Picchu was located.
Most likely, they brought these animals from the Puna region for their meat and skin. These animals still inhabit Machu Picchu today. How to distinguish an alpaca from a llama? Be sure to type llama vs alpaca into your search engine.
At Machu Picchu, it grew most plants on hundreds of agricultural terraces built by people. However, Incas built the terraces to provide drainage and good soil fertility; they also protected the mountainside from erosion and landslides.
Their construction was not perfect; landslides occurred during the construction of Machu Picchu. Absolutely,You you can still see where the terraces shifted under the influence of landslides. Later, the Incas repaired them.
Why was the inca road system important?
They stretched the Inca state along the Andes Mountains. The creation and maintenance of an extensive road system was therefore crucial. They want to maintain control over the vast territory and to manage even the farthest reaches of the state.
Why were roads important to the Inca empire? The existence of such a road network not only facilitated movement but also enabled the rapid transmission of messages and goods over considerable distances.
Why did the Incas need to invent suspension bridges?
Suspension bridges built by the Incas deserve a separate mention. Incas built them in many places where it was impossible to make a bridge of stones or wood, because of the depth of the canyon and the steepness of the slopes.
What were Inca bridges made of? They wove these bridges from ropes, hanging them even a few hundred meters above the riverbed. However, these constructions were extremely durable and resilient. The last such bridge built by the Incas over the Apurimac River collapsed in 1890 (this catastrophe became the basis for the famous novel by Thornton Wilder “The Bridge of San Luis Rey”).
I would like to highlight the Inca Bridge near Machu Picchu. They built this bridge as a secret entrance for the Inca army to Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu architecture facts
Machu Picchu’s architecture blends perfectly with the surrounding beautiful nature, with which it is closely linked. Numerous auxiliary centers, an extensive system of roads and trails, irrigation canals and agricultural terraces are an additional value of this place.
Moreover, the Inca city of Machu Picchu is an excellent example of the ecological work of its creators. The combination of natural surroundings, masterpieces of art, urban planning, architecture, and engineering of the Inca civilization creates a unique atmosphere of this place.
How was Machu Picchu built? It comprises about 200 structures forming an unusual religious, ceremonial, astronomical, and agricultural center. In addition, the whole is on a steep ridge, crisscrossed by stone terraces.
They built the city according to a strict plan. Also, the city with a basic division between the upper and lower parts. It separated the agricultural part from the residential areas, with a large plaza between them. To this day, many of the mysteries of Machu Picchu remain unsolved, including what role it played for the Incas.
Don’t forget about new entry rules on Machu Picchu
Is Machu Picchu open during covid? Machu Picchu is open every day in 2022. If you want to visit Machu Picchu and avoid problems, remember the new rules which take effect from 2021. The new regulations should help make Machu Picchu a place where sustainable tourism plays a paramount role.
Undoubtedly, Machu Picchu is one of the most impressive attractions in the world. Its beauty and unique architecture make it one of the most desired destinations for people from all over the world.
Being one of the wonders, it is necessary to take care of it and have some restrictions and what you can not take on your visit to the wonder.
What you cannot take to the citadel of Machu Picchu:
- You may not use tripods, supports, or extensions for cameras, cell phones, or any element of stabilization or extension for filming and/or photography in the Inca city of Machu Picchu.
- It’s not allowed to use your drone. Machu Picchu is a no-fly zone. There is a regulation that prohibits any flying vehicles from helicopters to drones. It may be possible to get a permit, but this could be costly and time-consuming.
- They forbid it to enter with bags or backpacks that exceed 40x35x20 centimeters. If they exceed these dimensions, you must deposit them in lockers at the entrance to Inca City.
- You may not carry food or luggage.
- It’s not allowed to enter with any illegal substance or under its effects.
- You can’t enter with animals, except for a guide dog if necessary.
- Aerosols or paints with which you can paint on the structures of Machu Picchu or its surroundings.
- You may not enter with any musical instrument.
- Refrain from wearing heels or hard sole shoes, only rubber sole shoes you can use.
- No baby carriages. If your child fits in a baby carrier, bring one as long as it does not have metal frames.
- Sharp objects and weapons of any kind are strictly forbidden.
- The entrance with banners, posters, posters, among others, the banners are only for the exclusive use of tour guides with groups larger than 5 visitors are not allowed. Do not enter with metal or hard-tipped sticks.
Other Machu Picchu restrictions:
- You can not use virtual apps with smartphones or electronic devices in narrow places, trails, and places of congestion.
- You may not generate disorder at any point in the Inca city of Machu Picchu.
- They forbid climbing or leaning on the walls or structures or extracting cultural elements or native fauna.
- They have forbidden obscene acts contrary to morals and good customs
- You may not make loud or annoying noises such as clapping, shouting, whistling, singing, or anything that disturbs the tranquility.
- They strictly forbid it to smoke any kind of cigarette or litter of any kind.
- You may not leave the established circuits and routes.
- Nor can you take an illegal entrance route or any route that avoids the established entrance.
Very important: Keep in mind that failure to comply with the restrictions will cause you to be expelled from Machu Picchu , without the right to a refund of the payment you made for the Machu Picchu ticket.
Machu picchu opening hours
Visits to Machu Picchu begin at 06:00 am. The site closes at 05:30 pm. There are 9 visit slots from Monday to Sunday, the first from 6:00 am to 7:00 am and the last from 2:00 pm through 3:00 pm. In addition to this, visitors should take the shuttle bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu max.
Where to buy Machu Picchu tickets online in 2022?
How to buy Machu Picchu tickets online? Because of the great influx of tourists who wish to see the great Inca city, the Dirección Desconcentrada de Cultura del Cusco has suggested buying their tickets in advance through the web page: click here.
Also, You can purchase tickets at their offices at Garcilaso S/N street in the city of Cusco. They do not sell tickets at the entrance to Machu Picchu. These are limited tickets. A certain number of tourists can visit Machu Picchu each day.
How much does an entrance ticket to Machu Picchu cost?
For foreign visitors:
- Adult: S/. 152
- Student: S/. 77
- Minor: S/. 70
Peruvians and citizens of the Andean Community of Nations (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru)
- Adult: S/. 64
- Student: S/. 32
- Minor: S/. 32
Tickets for Cusqueños:
Free, but they must present their ID and ticket at the control point. In addition, admission is only on Sundays.
One day trip to Machu Picchu
Can you go to Machu Picchu in one day?
Planning a one-day trip to Machu Picchu is easy, but the trip can be exhausting. It is worth knowing this before planning a trip to the Inca ruins. With proper preparation, you will avoid altitude sickness.
Machu Picchu’s elevation is 2430 meters above sea level. Most of the hotels in Cusco and Aguas Calientes offer coca tea, also known as mate de coca, to guests. This drink is perfectly safe to drink. Then, a cup or two a day will help you adapt faster and eliminate the symptoms of altitude sickness.
By familiarizing yourself with altitude sickness prevention, you will avoid the unpleasant hassle of staying at high altitudes. After being in Peru for a few days, I started looking for flights from Lima to Cusco. Finally, I found cheap flights with Viva Air. After an hour and a half flight, I found myself in Cusco. After Lima, I spent a few days in Cusco. According to my plan, the next point of the visit was supposed to be Machu Picchu.
How to get to Machu Picchu?
In this section, I will introduce you to the best way to get to Machu Picchu. The most popular and easiest way is to take the train from Cusco. Trains to Machu Picchu run regularly throughout the day. So there is no problem reaching the lost city of the Incas.
Two carriers, Peru Rail and Inca Rail operate the rail route. The carriers offer routes from Cusco to Machu Picchu Pueblo, also known as Aguas Calientes, and from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu Pueblo. A week before the trip, I booked a ticket for the Vistadome Observatory train.
My journey comprised two stages. The ticket lists part of the route as a bus ride to Ollantaytambo, then Vistadome as a train to Aguas Calientes. In Ollantaytambo, passengers make the transfer to the train with the final destination, Machu Picchu Station. This is because Peru Rail offers a bimodal service (bus + train), a service that combines bus and train travel.
I made the return journey the same way, departing and returning to Wanchaq station in Cusco. You can buy Vistadome Observatory train tickets online here. I paid $146 USD for a round-trip ticket. The one-way trip takes 4 hours and 5 minutes. The second travel option is the Peru Rail Expedition train.
You can start your journey from Poroy Station and Ollantaytambo Station. You can find more information about this train here.
Bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu: route, frequency and time
The bus trip to Machu Picchu is the last leg of the route from Cusco to Inca City. The bus to Machu Picchu leaves from Aguas Calientes and ends right at the gate of the archeological site. Although it is also possible to walk up, the vast majority of tourists choose the bus trip to visit the Wonder of the World.
What is the route of the bus trip to Machu Picchu?
The bus trip covers the route of Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes. It covers approximately 9 kilometers each way.
How long does the bus journey take?
The bus ride to Machu Picchu takes approximately 30 minutes to go up and another 30 minutes to return. If the tourist goes up on foot, it takes between 2 or 3 hours, depending on the physical condition of the visitor.
Where to board the buses from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu?
They boarded buses half a block from the Aguas Calientes train station. The bus stop is on Avenida Hermanos Ayar s/n. It is unnecessary to take a taxi to Aguas Calientes to get to the bus stop. The town is small and safe. There are no taxis in Aguas Calientes as you can get everywhere on foot.
What is the frequency of bus departures?
In the early hours of the morning, buses leave every 5 minutes from the Aguas Calientes bus station. From 9am buses leave every 10 minutes from Aguas Calientes. In Machu Picchu, buses leave every 10 minutes for the return journey.
What time does the first and last bus leave?
The first bus leaves Aguas Calientes at 5.30 in the morning. The last bus leaves at 3.30 in the afternoon. At Machu Picchu, the last buses return at 5.30 pm.
Bus tickets to Machu Picchu: sale, prices and discounts
You should purchase train tickets and entrance tickets to Machu Picchu weeks or even months in advance. Bus tickets are different: we can purchase them on the day of travel. Visitors can choose the complete trip (round trip) or just one trip (either way or return).
Discover the secret of the Incas by visiting Machu Picchu
Before flying to Peru, I came across the adventure film Secret of the Incas, with a cast featuring Yma Sumac, Nicole Maurey, Kurt Katch, and Emma Antonescu. This film, produced in 1954, allowed me to familiarize myself at least a little with the Incan culture. Certainly, it can’t replace a visit to such an iconic site as Machu Picchu. For me, the production was a sort of introduction to the Inca empire.
Aguirre, the Wrath of God, is another movie entry that looked at the history of the Inca Empire. It answered a lot of questions for me. The first was why the Inca empire fell.
I had been thinking about hiking to Machu Picchu for a long time. I pressed for time and did not take advantage of this opportunity. In addition, the weather in the Andes is very changeable, and I felt I am not physically prepared for such an effort. I chose the safe option, which is the bus from Aguas Calientes.
How long is the hike to Machu Picchu?
The Machu Picchu hike is one of the most amazing experiences you can have in the Andes. Around one million tourists visit the site of the ancient Inca civilization for a year. However, access to Machu Picchu is difficult and requires a bit of a hike to see the ruins.
If you are thinking of hiking to Machu Picchu, the starting point will be Aguas Calientes, in the valley below the former Inca city. How long is the hike to Machu Picchu? It will take you about 60 minutes to get to the main gate. For instance, the hiking time depends on your fitness and experience. You will arrive at Machu Picchu tired and sweaty. In addition, it takes a lot of precious time.
Weigh your decision if you have paid a lot of money to see this place. If you’re thinking of a multi-day hike, be sure to read about the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. Unlike, this expedition requires advanced preparation and booking in advance. How long is the Inca trail? The Inca trail hike is 25 miles long.
Best time to go to Machu Picchu
The best time to visit Machu Picchu is definitely before and after the rainy season. It is the end of March, April, May, September, October, and early November. The dry season in June, July, August is a good idea but you have to reckon with the huge number of tourists visiting the place.
The rainy months concentrate approximately 80% of the annual rainfall, which ranges from 1,600 to 2,300 millimeters. The average humidity is 77% during the dry months and 91% during the rainy months.
In the rainy season from September to April, showers and drizzles are almost daily, followed by clear blue skies and intense sunshine. However, given its location in the Amazon rainforest, rainfall is latent in any month of the year, even in the dry season from March to December.