Getting to Machu Picchu

How best to visit & tour Machu Picchu

History of the Lost City of the Incas

hut on the way to machu picchu

Machu Picchu is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the world, set deep in the Andes mountains of Peru. Known as the ‘Lost City of the Incas’, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed citadel was originally designed to be completely self-contained, surrounded by agricultural terraces sufficient to feed the population and watered by natural springs. Located high above the Urubamba River, the cloud-shrouded ruins include palaces, baths, temples, storage rooms and some 150 houses, all in a remarkable state of preservation that will take your breath away.

Archaeological evidence shows construction began around 1462 at the height of the Inca Empire and ended with the arrival of Spanish conquest less than a hundred years later, when the unfinished site was abruptly abandoned. The Spanish never found the site as it was located some 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Cuzco and the polished dry-stone walls and buildings remained largely intact. Over time jungle gradually covered the site and few knew of its existence.

In 1911, American explorer Hiram Bingham was led up to the site by a local Quechua boy and the ‘Lost City’ was revealed to the Western world. There is still debate about whether Hiram Bingham was the first European to reach the site, however he is indisputably the most famous and July 2011 marks 100 years since his 'rediscovery' of this magnificent site.

Group tour or Tailor-made tour

We offer several options you can choose from to visit Machu Picchu. You can either:

  • a) Join a Group Tour and hike the Inca Trail or Lares Trek and visit Machu Picchu at the end, or
  • b) Join a Group Tour, skip the hike and have free time in Cuzco then visit Machu Picchu on a day trip from Cuzco, or
  • c) Take a Tailor-made tour, with or without a trek

Please note: Due to Inca Trail permit restrictions, you must decide at the time of booking whether you want to trek the Inca Trail or not so that there is plenty of time to organise your permit in advance. Check this page for details on Inca Trail permits.

  • Visit Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

    For a relaxing trip to Machu Picchu, take a short transfer from Cuzco to Poroy, followed by a scenic rail journey to Aguas Calientes. Here we spend the night in a local hotel before rising early and taking a short bus ride to the summit. The transfer from Cuzco to Poroy takes about twenty minutes. The train takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes to reach Aguas Calientes and the bus ride the following day up to Machu Picchu is approximately 30 minutes to the entrance. On arriving in Aguas Calientes, the afternoon is spent browsing the shops and taking a dip in the hot springs. The following morning, you will have plenty of time at Machu Picchu with your guide, making your way back to Cusco in the afternoon.

  • Hike to Machu Picchu

    Instead of the train journey to Machu Picchu, a small selection of tours allow you to enjoy a small portion of the Inca Trail Trek, hiking for a day to Machu Picchu. You will take the train from Ollantaytambo to km104 to start the trail, arriving at Machu Picchu in the late afternoon. Once you have toured the site, you will take the bus to Aguas Calientes before returning to Ollantaytambo. A transfer will then pick you up and take you to Cuzco. This is a long day an quite challenging but perfect if you only want to do a condensed version of the Inca Trail Trek.

  • Visit Machu Picchu from Ollantaytambo

    Spent the night in Ollantaytambo before waking early to board one of the first trains to Aguas Calientes for the bus up to Machu Picchu. A slightly larger and more authentic town than its neighbour, Aguas Calientes, Ollantaytambo is the most popular place to stay after a full day's tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. When staying in Ollantaytambo, you will arrive at Machu Picchu in time for a quick, early lunch before entering the site in the afternoon for a guided tour. With plenty of time to explore the site, you will return to Cusco at the end of quite a long but memorable day.


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