Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu: City in the Clouds

The sanctuary of Machu Picchu is an engineering marvel—a city in the clouds surrounded by sheer precipices.

The site contains more than 140 known structures, including temples, palaces, ritual baths, and dwellings. Agricultural terraces, aqueducts, and more than 100 flights of stone stairs add to the achievement.

Much of the stonework at Machu Picchu is so fine that it seems to spring organically from the living rock.

Wide angle shot of the Quarry at Machu Picchu in Peru

Machu Picchu—”Old Mountain” in the Quechua language— straddles a ridge, at approximately 8,000 feet above sea level.

Far below, the Urubamba River Valley carves sharp turns around the mountain’s base.

Huayna Picchu

Huayna Picchu—or the “Young Mountain”—serves as the citadel’s principal backdrop. In the distance and across the river valley, rows of peaks add to the site’s sense of boundlessness.

In 1911, American explorer and historian Hiram Bingham brought the citadel to the world’s attention.

A perfectly intact stone hallway and doorway in the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru

Bingham was searching for the lost city of Vilcabamba when he was led to Machu Picchu by a local farmer surnamed Arteaga.

In his excavations, he found the remains of 173 humans: 150 female and 23 male. Despite the graves bearing evidence of looting, the excavations uncovered numerous copper, ceramic and stone objects.

First light at Machu Picchu is an unforgettable experience. At dawn, the site is often concealed by low clouds.

Sunrise at Machu Picchu

As the sun rises, the river mists slowly dissipate to reveal walls and plazas—first in glimpses, then in majesty.

Machu Picchu can be reached by train—with stops in the Sacred Valley and Cusco—and also by trail. Multi-day hiking trips are available.

Moss covered staircase leading up through a misty forest in Peru near the Inca Trail

Hikes near Machu Picchu include the trail to the summit of Huayna Picchu, the extension to the Temple of the Moon, and the Inca trail site of Wiñay Wayna.

In the past, most visitors would visit as a day trip.

Now, many of our travelers are staying for two or three nights, taking in the site at their own pace and allowing time for reflection and renewal.

Machu Picchu Accommodations

Comfortable accommodations are located at the base of the mountain and outside the park gate.

With enough time, you can visit orchid gardens, enjoy thermal baths, hike lesser known trails, admire the local fauna, or unwind at a spa.

We’ve designed a guide to help you understand the complexities of visiting Machu Picchu.

Free PDF copies are available upon request.


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“I hope at no distant future to prepare an exhaustive report of this wonderful city, whose charm can only dimly be realized from these pictures. The beautiful blue of the tropical sky, the varying shades of green that clothe the magnificent mountains, and the mysterious charm of the roaring rapids thousands of feet below cannot be portrayed and can with difficulty be imagined.”

Hiram Bingham


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What an amazing adventure we have had.  Many thanks to you for putting it together. The whole rhythm of the trip was perfect, and leaving one place for the next worked perfectly. This trip definitely made me want to experience other great spots in South America as the people have been wonderful and the places incredible. Wish we had a month to really explore.  Everybody in the family had a great life experience. Thanks again!

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M. & J. Siegel , New Rochelle, NY

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We returned yesterday from our trip and I wanted to let you know that it was absolutely amazing!  There is not a single thing on the itinerary that we would change.  The guides were knowledgeable, friendly, and prompt.  The hotels were beautiful, the food delicious and the pace of the activities was perfect for us. Thank you so much for making our trip such a fantastic experience.

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In short, our trip was amazing, and, as we had hoped, the Inca civilization was fascinating to us. Thanks so much for your constant assistance and thorough planning.

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I’ve never had such great service from a tour operator. Not only were you a great help on the planning-insuring that I was staying at the right places and enjoying the type of activities we love-but the follow up was incredible. Your team checked in with us several times during the trip to confirm that everything was going well, and that the guides you assigned were satisfying us. It’s one thing to get a “thank you card” or a “hope your trip was great” note after you’re back, but to insure that it’s going well during the trip is a welcome first! I look forward to working with you again on a another trip.

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