ATV 17: MACHU PICCHU (F.D.)

Departure       :  6:00 a.m. (returning at about 8:00 p.m.)

Duration        :  All day

Location        :  Department of Cusco

Season          :  All year round.

DESCRIPTION

Machupicchu is the most famous and spectacular archaeological complex on the continent and is considered by the UNESCO as Humanity’s Cultural Heritage. Besides its architectural and natural wonders, it is surrounded by an exotic flora with more than 180 species of orchids, as well as by an abundant fauna, like the amazing ant bear and the cock of the rocks (rupícola Peruvianis); Peru’s national bird.

The Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is a cultural and natural heritage. It is composed of 35 archaeological sites, the main one of which is the “city” of Machu Picchu and it also shelters 10% of the flora and 20% of the fauna that exists in Peru.

Machu Picchu is one of the archaeological complexes which awaken a particular interest throughout the world. It is without a doubt, one of the best applied examples of the Andean builders´ skills in the integration of architectural structures within nature and there are many theories about Machu Picchu:

The first theory suggests that this city was unknown to the Incas. This is because of the type of construction and the lack of dates which points out that its edification could be previous to the Incan period.

Another theory suggests that it was a sanctuary for the “Ñustas” or Virgins of the Sun and this would be the reason why Machu Picchu was a sacred city. This theory holds because, upon the Spaniards´ arrival, the Incan government, with the aim of avoiding more crimes, hid the virgins in a secret refuge in the Andes and this place might have been Machu Picchu. This theory also explains the discovery of 107 human remains, 68.9% of which were that of women.

A third theory suggests that Machu Picchu was the last capital city of the Incan Empire and Vilcabamba, the last city where the Incas fell, under the command of Manco Inca, in the year 1563, when he was defeated by the Spaniards, after they surrounded the city. And there are many more, such as that sustained by some scientists, that parts of Machu Picchu might have been built around 36,000 years b.C.

THE MEANING OF THE WORDS MACHU PICCHU:  This Quechua name comes from the mountain´s name: Machu Picchu which means Machu = Ancient and Picchu = Mountain or “Ancient Mountain”. According to Manuel Chavez Ballón, the sacred city might have been called “Kuntur Kancha”, translated as “The condor’s nest”.

 GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION: The archaeological area is situated on the left side of the Vilcanota River; in the Gorge of Kusichaca, in the District of Machu Picchu, Province of Urubamba, Department of Cusco.

AREA: The Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu covers 32,592 hectares.

ALTITUDE: Machu Picchu is perched at 2,490 meters above sea level, considering the center of the archaeological site as a reference point.

WEATHER: Due to the fact that Machu Picchu is situated in a subtropical area, the temperature there oscillates between 8 and 22º C. and the rain season is between December and April.

ACCESS: By train: Departing from the San Pedro Station in Cusco, all the way to Aguas Calientes, the journey lasts from 3 to 4 hours, according to the type of train you travel on (112 Km.). Once in Aguas Calientes, you will be able to take a tourist bus up to the Sanctuary, which is about a 15 minute ride.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Due to the warm climate, there is a large number of insects and mosquitos,, especially on sunny days. Their bites produce an irritation and sometimes, skin allergies.  We strongly recommend you to protect yourself with insect repellent.

GENERAL INFORMATON:  According to other sources, Machu Picchu was built around the 14th century. The first people to visit these architectural remains were Gavino Chávez, Enrique Palma and Agustín Lizárraga, on July 14th, 1901.  They left their names engraved on the walls of the city.  But, it was Hiram Bingham who made its scientific discovery, with the help of an expedition from Yale Univerisity (Massachussetts, U.S.A.) and the National Geographic Society.

One could say that this discovery was an accident, as Hiram Bingham was looking for the city of Vilcabamba which was the Incas’ last refuge and point of resistance against the Spaniards.

Since Hiram Bingham “discovered” Machu Picchu in 1911, this place has captured the admiration of the entire world and is considered nowadays as one of the World’s Wonders and one of the main attractions in Peru.

Machu Picchu is surrounded by a huge jungle and imposing mountains that accompany irs visitors through their entire journey.

When you´ll get there, you’ll be captured by the magic of this mysterious place, which has been preserved for so much time, to fascinate the visitors with its beauty.

INCLUDES: Round train transportation, bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu and back, entrance fee and guided visit of Machu Picchu.

DOES NOT INCLUDE: Meals.