The ancient Incan citadel of Machu Picchu is the first thing that comes to mind for most people when they think of trekking in Peru or South America. It is the ultimate destination to aim for at the end of any long-distance walk, rising up through the clouds against the backdrop of the Andes.
There are many different options to consider when deciding on a route to the site, whether you prefer the traditional Inca Trail or an alternative to match your interests. Setting off from Choququirao gives you the chance to compare Machu Picchu with a similar complex, while the Lares Trail is quieter than the more famous Inca Trail.
Pura Aventura offers both of these options as well as many more. Machu Picchu is the destination, but it is up to you how you get there.
Height of the Incan Empire
Machu Picchu stands at 2,430 metres above sea level and is widely considered the most spectacular creation left behind by the Incas. This ancient people built the complex of terraces, ramps and walls by cutting into the rock escarpments.
It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983 and is a remarkable example of a world-class archaeological site. Watching as the mist drifts across its recognisable peak is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
That peak is in fact Huayna Picchu and despite being in just about every tourist’s photographs of the site, it is climbed relatively infrequently. True trekkers will not want to miss out on the opportunity to scale it in order to gain superb views over Machu Picchu.
In a place that is so widely photographed it is incredibly special to get a different angle on it and enjoy the tranquillity. Notice the Urubamba River snaking its way around the ruins.
The Inca Bridge
This alternative route into Machu Picchu was constructed as a secret entrance to the site by the Incan army. It is not for the faint-hearted as it is carved directly out of the rock with a 1,900 foot drop to the side.
No safety rails have been put in place as this would spoil the stunning views, although grab holds have been installed at various points along the way. The other precaution that has been put in place is a small booth where each trekker must sign in and out to ensure everyone is accounted for.
The trek takes you through lush forest to the point where the Incans intentionally left an impassable gap so that their enemies could not reach Machu Picchu. A wooden bridge once allowed people across, but this dangerous method is no longer used. Instead you can look out beyond the cliff to the surrounding valley and river running below.
Aguas Calientes, the last town before Machu Picchu is surrounded by dense cloudforest, which is wonderful to explore. Some treks to the citadel bring you through this area, which is navigated using ancient trails set out by the Incas. Otherwise you can set out to explore it yourself.
Aguas Calientes, as the name would suggest, also has a series of thermal springs feeding pools of varying temperatures. There is no better way to ease aching limbs after a trek to Machu Picchu than to soak them in one of these.
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