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Machu Picchu

trapezoids of a lifetime: Machu Picchu
This month marks the hundred-year-anniversary of the "re-discovery" of this Inca citadel by Hiram Bingham. Machu Picchu deserves its clichés--'place of a lifetime,' 'bucket-list destination'...'mystical'...'amazing'...

Sometimes, it's okay to simply stick with others' adjectives; the thesaurus isn't always a good thing. You're not necessarily an 'unoriginal tourist' just because you agree with scores of published accounts that describe a site the same way.

The distinctive trapezoidal windows of Inca construction almost always frame compelling views--the magic of stone. You're in the heart of the Andes; for a moment, stop seeking words. Drink in the view.

Have you been here? Share a tip or a photo with fellow travelers.
A long windy road to Machu Picchu
The easy way to get up to the entrance of the citadel at Machu Picchu is to take a bus. It's can be a pretty scary ride with all the hairpin turns. So instead, hike up There are cut-troughs will help. It won't take more than an hour, and it will get you in shape for another great hike, Wayna Picchu. Wayna Picchu overlooks Machu Picchu. Its an advanced hike but so worth the effort! My recommendation for going to Machu Picchu is to stay in the area for three or four days, and stay at the incredible Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. Eat great, sleep well, enjoy a fireplace in your suite and have a massage each day. That will ensure that you will enjoy the hikes and the natural beauty so much more.
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Take the train
Without a doubt, take the Vistadom train when heading to Machu Picchu. It's a fun, scenic ride which really gets you ready for the experience. It ltravels from Ollantaytambo in the Scared Valley to the town that sits below Machu Picchu. It takes about two hours and so enjoyable. Load you ipod with some chill Peruvian tunes, sit back and enjoy the views!
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The stonework is what gets ya!
We all have seen hundreds of shots of the grand Machu Pichu from above but what is really incredible is getting up close to it.
You can only begin to understand the incredible feat to which it was built by walking the three days up the Inca trail to these great Peruvian heights.

The artistry and stonework is one of the most impressive thing I have seen, every rock fits perfectly together and it was all carried up there on foot!

This touristy attraction was not a let down, just make sure you walk and forget the bus.
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The Machu Picchu Duck
Amist all the beauty and lush rainforests of Machu Picchu, I couldn't help but notice that the waters below resembled a duck.

You see it, don't you?!
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Machu Picchu Mountains
A must see/do in life - climb Machu Picchu early in the morning, in time to see clouds part at noon.
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Machu Picchu Ruins
It's said that when Hiram Bingam first discovered Machu Picchu, there was a single, lone man living amidst the ruins and declaring them home. The site is best seen at daybreak, when the clouds are parting over the mountains.

Stay until sunset, if you can!
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Wayna Picchu, Machu Picchu
Towering above the Machu Picchu ruins, Wayna Picchu is one of the most thrilling hikes in the area. One a limited number of people are allowed to climb the vertical piece of rock which is surrounded by cliffs on all sides - with no guard rails. Once at the top, the views are out of this world and you can see why the Inca selected this place to build such a palace.
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Along the Inca Trail
As I descended the Inca Trail, a heavy rain stopped and the mist lifted to reveal this image of Machu Picchu.
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dead woman's pass, inca trail
hiking the inca trail was incredible...while arrive at machu picchu brought me to tears, trudging to the top of this peak only to stumble upon this surprising panoramic made the trek worthwhile all on its own
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Residents of Machu Picchu
A picture tells a thousand words
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Sunrise at Machu Picchu
We toured the site late in the afternoon, and our guide showed us the places to stand to watch the sunrise the next morning. It was amazing enough just to be there, but to watch as the sun burned through the mist to reveal the ruins was surreal. It was one of the highlights of my life. Peru is a wonderful country with beautiful people...I look forward to returning to experience more sites, sounds, tastes and smiles.
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Lost City of the Incas
Machu Picchu is amazing one of those life time greatest gifts you would give your self. I can't really explain the beauty of the place without one actually setting foot on the place that is a magnetic center of the universe that has the most peaceful & magical vibes in the Andes. It's incredible to walk along the ruins exploring them. No trip is not complete without a hike up to Huaynapicchu, where only a lucky 200 can score a permit for that day & it's def worth the time & energy to see some spectacular views of Machu Picchu. I even wrote about my experience on my blog: http://canuszewskitravels.blogspot.com/.
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Machu Picchu
We trekked the Inca Trail for 3 days & 4 nights, and when we finally arrived at Machu Picchu, the view, coupled with our exhaustion, made us want to just stop and take it all in. We sat here and listened to our guide talk about the history of Machu Picchu. It was actually very hot sitting here, but for some reason, we just didn't want to go anywhere. Would we ever make it back to this spot again? Maybe years from now we will, but we treated it as if this was the only time we would see this place.

On top of the world on Thanksgiving Day 2011.
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The Windows
A different view of Machu Pichu. Out of the many hundreds of panoramic pictures I took of machu pichu, I liked this one because it is a different presentation from what I have always seen in postcards. It really showed how ingenious the Incans were in their building techniques. All the windows here align so that you can stand on one side and see all the way through to the other side many houses away.
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Natural forces
This is a view of Machu Pichu town as I was hiking the road. You can almost hear the raging river and juxtaposed with the imposing mountains, there is only one way to feel when you're here- very small. Nature is so present here in the Andes and it is completely astonishingly beautiful.
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We were at the butterfly house in Machu Pichu town and got to see how butterflies transformed from a tiny egg to the full winged creature.
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Dead Woman's Pass
This is the highest point on the Inca Trail, at around 14,000 feet above seal level. The air is thin, and it seems as if you can never catch your breath, but the view from the top was totally worth it.

Are we there yet?
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Inca Trail
The misty jungle portion of the Inca Trail on Day 2. The stone steps seemed to never end, but it was just amazing scenery everywhere you looked.

Are We there yet?
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Inca Trail
One of the tunnels along the Inca Trail, on the way towards Machu Picchu. This is day 3 of the trail, the longest day, but with many Incan sites.

Are we there yet?
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Approach To Machu Picchu
After 3 intense days of hiking, we finally made it to the legendary ruins of Machu Picchu. There was an intense feeling of satisfaction of making it to the site by hiking. We could have easily taken a train & bus to get here, but the unbelievable scenery of the trail, along with the numerous ruins you can only see if you hike, were priceless experiences.

Are we there yet?
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Machu Picchu
Climbing up to Wayna Picchu is like climbing "on top of the world", where you can look down upon the amazing ruins of Machu Picchu. The view from Wayna Picchu is very dizzying, as is the lack of oxygen at this elevation. The trail starts at a ranger hut at the opposite end of the site from the park entrance. You are required to sign in and sign out at the hut to limit the number of people and ensure visitor don't go missing.
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On Top of The Inca Trail
This was day 2 of our Inca Trail hike. All of our research before the trip told us that this would be the toughest day, as it would reach the highest elevation, at over 14,000 feet. Our goal was to reach this spot, Dead Woman's Pass.

For awhile we could see the top in the distance, and wondered if we would be able to make it. Each step was tough, as it felt like we had just finished sprinting. You could hardly catch your breath at all. To help out, we made goals for ourselves, like, "go 1 minute and then rest." Well, that dwindled down to, "go 5 steps and then rest." But we did make it to Dead Woman's Pass, and as a reward, we stood at this spot, on top of the world, in the Andes Mountains, on the Inca Trail. The Trail was full of rewarding things, from the food, to the views, and to the people we met along the way.

If you are ever thinking of visiting Machu Picchu, I highly recommend taking the Inca Trail. There are several Incan sites that you simply cannot see unless you take the Trail. And, you will miss out on views like this. Sure, it is physically tough, but it is great to step outside your comfort zone a little bit to experience the world.
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A little music in the morning
If you go to Machu Picchu, make sure you hike up Wayna Picchu at sunrise. They only issue a limited numbered of passes, so you'll need to get in line well-before they open. It's a strenuous hike up man-made steps. I did see people of various ages and fitness levels making the trip and all of them seemed to make it to the top. It took me about 45 minutes.

At the top while watching the sun rise and looking down on Machu Picchu, my guide pulled out a flute and started to play. It was an amazing moment. I truly felt on top of the world.
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Brave (or crazy)
Wayna Pichu is the former outpost for Machu Picchu. At dawn people get in line to hike to the top. Since they only issue a set number of passes, get there early.

The hike took me about 45 minutes and was pretty strenuous. The peak becomes crowded with people gazing down on Machu Picchu.

I noticed this one couple out on the edge of the peak. Actually, you couldn't miss them; few others dared to venture out that far. I was content to have made it to the top. It felt like the top of the world to me.
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Machu dog
Whether you make the grueling three day trek to Machu Picchu on foot, or arrive in mere hours via the luxury train from Cusco, the effect is the same. When you climb to the Funerary Rock Hut for a perfect vista of the ancient Inca tombs and plazas, there is no question but that you are on top of the world, physically, culturally, historically and emotionally. Spread before you are some of the most mind-boggling reminders of a bygone culture that express emphatically, in so many ways, its advanced knowledge, keen insights and breathtaking accomplishments. While trying desperately to capture even a suggestion of this magnificence in my lens, the face of a charming little dog popped into my viewfinder and brought me back to earth. Dogs are everywhere in Peru, but forbidden from this sacred site. Where did he come from? I still wonder...
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and take it ALL in - like the old man praying, meditating, being present (what have you).

the culmination of my Peru trip was right in front me [11/2012]
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Hike to Puente Inka
Undoubtedly the easiest hike in the Sanctuario Historico Machu Picchu, the thirty minute level walk to the Incan Bridge is the most traveled. The cliff hugging trail takes you to a former suspension bridge built by the Incas, which is now been replaced by some logs. You can marvel at the ingenuity of the Incan people to build a suspension bridge in such conditions. In addition, the magnificent geology of the massive rocks above the bridge is worth viewing. I heard some tourists say they were underwhelmed by Puente Inka, but if you allow yourself to try to be in the mind of the people who built it 500 years ago, it is truly impressive.
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Machu Picchu with SAM Travel Peru
You NEED a tour operator for the Cusco region. Yes, you can do it on your own... but it makes the whole experience so much more fulfilling. Having a local pick you up at the airport, give you restaurant advice, guide you through the Sacred Valley and/or a trek... it's THE way to do it. And it would be hard to imagine a better operator than SAM travel.

We (traveling with a friend) booked our travel 2 wks before our departure date (not advised by the way). Saul (owner of SAM Travel) was very gracious and moved quickly to answer all our questions, coordinate the trek downpayment through PayPal, get us our train tickets, etc, etc. We did the Lares Trek (see my Lares Trek review)... and it was GLORIOUS.

SAM Travel is a local operator, so you are not on a giant bus with a thousand other tourists being carted from one tourist destination to the other. I felt comfortable and secure at all times. And SAM Travel is small enough that if you want to make minor changes to your itinerary, usually they can oblige. My only suggestion to SAM Travel would be they offer Cusco as part of their package... so that the guide will take you through Cusco, etc. Cusco is a VERY cool city. If you're doing a trek you will want to spend 2-3 days to acclimate to the elevation. You can easily fill 2-3 days in Cusco.
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An amazing Machu Picchu and a brilliant experience.
As i visited Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu 2 days. i went to Machu Picchu with Salkantay Trekking. The trip excceded my expectations the weather was great, the guides were very hospitable and the groups had an awesome time.
I will definitely recommend this tour to others who wants to visit Machu Picchu.