7,000 feet above sea level and nestled on a small hilltop between the Andean Mountain Range, the majestic city of Machu Picchu soars above the Urabamba Valley below. The Incan built structure has been deemed the “Lost Cities”, unknown until its relatively recent discovery in 1911. Archaeologists estimate that approximately 1200 people could have lived in the area, though many theorize it was most likely a retreat for Incan rulers. Due to it’s isolation from the rest of Peru, living in the area full time would require traveling great distances just to reach the nearest village.
Separated into three areas – agricultural, urban, and religious – the structures are arranged so that the function of the buildings matches the form of their surroundings. The agricultural terracing and aqueducts take advantage of the natural slopes; the lower areas contain buildings occupied by farmers and teachers, and the religious areas are located at the crest of the hill, overlooking the lush Urubamba Valley thousands of feet below.
Machu Picchu is open year-round, but there are two things you can’t count on: dry weather and thin crowds. It can rain anytime, though officially, October to April is the rainy season. And while peak season is July–August, you should always expect crowds.
There are a couple ways you can visit Machu Picchu. You can hike in on the Inca Trail but you should know that the Peruvian government puts a limit on the number of people who may hike this trail per season due to erosion concerns. OR you can fly into Cusco and ride the train to Aguas Calientes (the town at the foot of Machu Picchu).
Happy On The Map Monday! Stay tuned for next week as we travel someplace else very exotic!