An ancient city nestled high among the Andean Mountains... It sounds like a myth but Machu Picchu is more than just the stuff of dreams. This enchanting citadel is both sprawling and spectacular with tiered terraces and temples rising into the clouds. A pilgrimage here is an adventure you’ll never forget, especially when you stay at Sanctuary Lodge, A Belmond Hotel.
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Wandering among this Incan city is a mystical experience at any time. But nothing beats the first rays of sun blanketing the sacred stones at dawn. Better still, in those early hours you’ll be one of the first souls to see it. Sip a refreshing Andean mint tea or an Inca smoothie as the sun begins to rise, then delve in to the view and take in the citadel up close.
At 3,051 metres above sea level, Machu Picchu peak is the best place to enjoy breathtaking panoramas of the citadel and Andean Mountains. The two-hour hike to the top is one of the most challenging things to do in Machu Picchu, but the views are worth every minute. You’ll need a separate ticket to make the climb, so contact our concierge to arrange one for you. That’s the easy bit out the way, the rest is up to you!
If tough trekking at altitude isn’t for you, take the more leisurely route to the Guard House and breathe a sigh of relief. This spot is still a great vantage point for soaking up the sights, while the incline is much more gentle. The Guard House itself is a fairly unassuming stone hut that formerly housed the Inca guards. From here, the citadel’s intriguing architectural composition reveals itself in marvellous style.
While the citadel is well worth lingering over for quite some time, there are lots of fascinating sites a little further from the main stage. Take the trek to the Sun Gate (this is a great step free alternative to the other treks). You’ll follow the original Inca trail to Inti Punku, the gate from which visitors would leave and enter the citadel. The Inca Bridge is another worthwhile stop. The bridge lies en-route along the trail. This incredible feat of engineering raises as many mysteries as the citadel itself.
Machu Picchu is blessed with a rich and diverse wildlife. Llamas roam free among the ruins and spectacled bears meander on the mountainsides. It’s paradise for bird lovers too. Head out on our Flora and Fauna tour in the grounds of our mountain-top oasis, Sanctuary Lodge, A Belmond Hotel. If you’re lucky, you may be in for a meeting with green jays or even an Andean cock-of-the-rock.
After a long day’s hike, there’s nothing for it but a restorative dip in the springs at Aguas Calientes. Cloaked in the shadows of the Andes, these thermal springs feel like a hidden paradise. Melt into the warm healing waters and cure those aches and pains. With lush foliage coating the mountains around you, you’ll soon find this place is also easy on the eyes.
Leaving such an enchanting place as Machu Picchu can be a little heartbreaking, but when the time comes, we have just the thing to soften the blow: Hiram Bingham, A Belmond Train. Step aboard this luxury locomotive and prepare for an unforgettable journey back to Cusco. Settle into the observatory car, pisco sour in hand and be swept away by the stunning Sacred Valley views.
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