Machu Picchu is a bucket list destination for many. Those who love hiking and exploring will be blown away by these amazing ruins as well as those who’d prefer to make more of the trip via train. From the Quechuan language, Machu Picchu translates to “old mountain”, but Machu Picchu is much more than just an old mountain, there is much to see and experience on this must-visit destination. We recently had Ashlan Cousteau take over our Instagram account on her trip there and it was simple stunning. You can see a few of those pictures below. These are our picks for sights you must-see when you trek to Machu Picchu.
Take a tip from locals and check the lunar calendar and try to have your visit to Machu Picchu coincide with a full moon. According to those locals, the full moon makes for the most spectacular time to visit the Inca Trail. Of course, you’ll want to start your trek two or three days prior to the full moon so you can take full advantage of the best weather and the moon’s illumination of the area through the evenings leading up to the sunrise on the day of your final ascent to the ruins.
Not for the faint of heart, along the Inca Trail, you’ll encounter the Inca Bridge. It’s on the side of a mountain and has some death-defying points along the way. If you’re one that abides by the rule of “don’t look down”, don’t take the bridge! Most who hike the trail will note that it’s safe as long as you pay attention to what you’re doing, they also note that the diversion of the bridge is well worth the 15-30 extra minutes that it adds to the hike for the views alone, as well as the enhancement of the overall experience.
More commonly known as the Royal Tomb, the Tumba Real is a lovely respite on the hike to Machu Picchu even if you choose to explore it completely. The area is full of niches that were used for ceremonies of different types. One of the most notable parts of the Tumba Real is a wall carving of an Incan cross which resembles a series of steps, each of which represents a level of existence in the Incan world. On the first step, you’ll find a snake which represents death or the underworld; the second step contains a jaguar symbolizing human life; and, the third step features a condor representing the spiritual or celestial plane of the gods.
After that long hike, you might think you’ve reached the point of exhaustion, but most visitors report that they feel invigorated as they reach the point to which they’ve been hiking, the ruins of the ancient city. Wandering through the ruins, you’ll be able to imagine life in the ancient and what it must have been like to have lived there. Of course, you’re surrounded by the most stunning views of the mountains and much lush greenery, many visitors describe the feeling once they explore the ancient city as life-altering.
Along the hike and among the ruins and other areas of Machu Picchu you’re certain to encounter some animals. The most likely of animals on this venture will be a Peruvian llama. Luckily, llamas are a social animal and will likely seem more as though they’re more of a welcoming committee than anything.
Belmond Sanctuary Lodge
The Belmond Sanctuary Lodge is the only hotel located at the entrance of Machu Picchu and it will provide you with a bit of the comforts of home as well as some luxury that you didn’t think you’d have on this trip.
Sitting in the shadows of the Lost City, our lodge is an oasis of calm before or after a day exploring Machu Picchu. Unwind with a yoga session, take part in a traditional shaman ceremony in the garden, or sip muña tea in Tampu Bar. Tranquility, wonder and beauty are at the heart of our unique experience.
As you’re planning your trip to visit Machu Picchu, you’ll want to include our suggested must-see spots. What are you looking forward to most about your Machu Picchu trek? While you’re in South America, you may need some extra luxury after all your hiking, read Luxury Travel in South America: 4 Must-Visit Destinations – you’ll already have crossed one of the list.