WHEN HIRAM BINGHAM RETURNED from Machu Picchu in 1911, he told tales of a mystical ancient city perched high in the Andean Mountains. Some doubted the drama and magic he ascribed to this sky-hanging citadel. After all, no man had laid eyes on it since the Incas fled in the 16th century. Yet in the years since Bingham rediscovered Machu Picchu, all who have made the pilgrimage concur—this is truly one of the most enchanting places on earth.
Indeed, at first sight, Machu Picchu overwhelms. It is sprawling and spectacular, with agricultural terraces giving way to sheer cliffs and temples climbing up into the clouds. Such breathtaking beauty should be enjoyed in tranquility. Get there early and see the sacred stones in solitude.
At 3,051 metres above sea level, Machu Picchu peak offers magnificent panoramas of the citadel and across the Andes. The two-hour ascent is challenging and requires a separate ticket, so you may prefer to head to the Guard House—especially if you’re not one for taking the stairs. The alternative trek to the Sun Gate is step free and rewarding, while the narrow Inca bridge that winds around the mountain is an incredible feat of engineering. Don’t worry if you can’t decide what to see—Belmond can tailor tours just for you.
While the citadel rightly takes centre stage, Machu Picchu is also blessed with rich and diverse wildlife. Llamas roam freely among the ruins and spectacled bears ramble around the mountainside. It’s paradise for bird lovers too. Take our flora and fauna tour and keep your eyes out for rarities such as the green jay or Andean cock-of-the-rock. If you’re worn out by a hard day’s trekking, why not visit the thermal springs in Aguas Calientes? Situated in the shadow of the Andes, the regenerative waters promise to cure a variety of ailments.
Few ever feel ready to leave the majestic Machu Picchu. But when the time comes, we’ve got just the thing to soften the blow. Belmond Hiram Bingham is our luxury locomotive which will bring you back to the charming town of Cusco. Settle into the observatory car with a pisco sour as you meander through the Sacred Valley—the journey of a lifetime will feel just that little bit longer.
Carretera Hiram Bingham km 7.5 Machu Picchu, Cusco Peru
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