When most people arrive in Lima, Peru, the first site to see on almost everyone’s lists is Machu Picchu. There is something about the ruins of Machu Picchu and its rich history that seems to draw people in from every corner of the world to see this marvel of Inca creation. Some people wish to visit the mysterious site to embrace the legendary spirits that are said to live there; the temples of Machu Picchu are spiritual and enchanting, hidden from the world from centuries, the marvel of human creation is one which remains a mystery still today. It is still unknown why it was built, what it was used for and why it was abandoned after what is said to have only been one hundred years of inhabitants. Today, for all its mysteries and wonders, Machu Picchu is one of the most visited sites in South America and is known as one of the seven wonders of the world.
The City of the Kings
To travel to Machu Picchu, you will need to arrive in Lima, the Capital of Peru, known as the City of the Kings. Lima is the starting point for any Peruvian adventure and all travel to Machu Picchu. There are many ways to get from Lima to Cusco and Machu Picchu and in this article, we will take you through a journey from Lima to Machu Picchu.
Ballestas Island and Nazca
Depending on the time of year as well as your time in Peru, a road trip can be an excellent way to sight see and get a great idea of the three regions of Peru, the coast, the highlands and the jungle. Starting in Lima, you could take a city tour and see the best of the capital. This trip will take approximately two days where you will be able to see the best of Lima, from this point you can head south to the coastal village of Paracas where boats leave every morning to the Ballestas Islands, famous for their bird life and the sea lion populations. After a day spent in Paracas you could travel further south and inland to the desert town of Nazca. For those of you who haven’t heard of Nazca, the town is located on the edge of the mysterious Nazca Lines, these lines are etched into the desert floor and feature drawings of monkeys, lizards, spiders and many other figures including a space man which are only visible from a bird’s eye view, there are many different companies in Nazca who offer flights at different prices. Seeing Nazca is not an experience to be missed so book your flights well in advance!
To travel from Nazca to Peru’s second city Arequipa ( White city), takes around ten hours by bus and it is a beautiful city built from white volcanic rock, hence the name the White city. Arequipa has various sites worth visiting, most famously is Santa Catalina convent, a lovely building with fascinating history, well worth a tour. Tours to the Colca Canyon leave from Arequipa daily, normally the tours are for two days, but tours of one day are also available. The canyon is said to be the deepest in the world, deeper than the Grand Canyon in the United States. If you are really lucky, while you are at the canyon you might catch the majestic Condors that soar above the canyon in the mornings. While you are in the area, make sure to visit the small town of Chivay and its beautiful hot springs just outside of town.
Lake Titicaca and the Uros
From Arequipa, if you travel around six hours in the southernmost part of Peru, you will end up in the lakeside town of Pun,. Puno is famous for Lake Titicaca and the floating Uros Islands, there are forty-eight islands in total all made completely out of tortilla reeds, only five are available for tourists to visit due to preservation risks. The local people formed these islands many centuries ago to escape warring tribes on the mainland. Taking the time to visit the islands would be well worth the time to experience the lifestyle of the locals who are a fascinating people, living mainly on fish and potatoes, they make their living from tourism. The islands have their own primary schools that the children travel to every day on handmade reed boats. One of the islands has accommodation available if you are keen to spend the night, but be aware, the accommodation has very basic conditions and is not recommended for the luxury traveler.
Travelling north from Puno either by bus or by train, will take you to the Imperial Inca city of Cusco, the heartland of the Inca Empire. Cusco is a beautiful city, with cobblestone streets, plazas, churches, markets and museums, all of which are a delight to see. Cusco has a large expat community with many travelers visiting and never leaving, so keep your wallet in mind if you fall too deeply in love with the the great Inca city. Cusco is the starting point for Machu Picchu tours and depending on your budget there are different trains to choose from which can take you there. Firstly, the Expedition tourist train, then the Vistadome train with its glass roof, or if your a big spender looking to experience you holiday in luxury, than the Hiram Bingham is the train for you. All of the trains arrive into Aguas Calientes station, Aguas Calientes is the town located below Machu Picchu and is a quaint little town filled with restaurants, bars and markets to buy gifts and keepsakes to bring home to your families and remember your trip by.
Many visitors who travel to Machu Picchu also visit the Sacred Valley of the Inca´s beforehand. The Sacred Valley is a beautiful area located in a tranquil valley in the Andes mountain range featuring many ruins, terracing a great market with fabulous scenery, there’s nothing like it anywhere else in the world.
The other way to travel to Machu Picchu is by taking the four-day Inca Trail. Extremely popular with trekkers from all over the world, the trek starts with a fairly easy first day, and on the second day the work really starts. You will need to climb four thousand meters above sea level before descending back down to two thousand five hundred meters. The third day is a mixed bag of climbing and descending. On the fourth and final day, you will awake early to trek to the Sun gate where you will have your first view of Machu Picchu. This route is not recommended to be taken on your first day in Peru, as the altitude adjustment can take quite the toll, so be weary and do your research as this is not a trail for the faint of heart.
Whichever way you wish to take to journey to Machu Picchu, your time will be well spent to see this magnificent, breath taking site which will leave a lasting impression in your mind.
We hope you have enjoyed a roadmap from Lima to Machu Picchu and perhaps one day you will take this road trip!