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Machu Picchu Vacation

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Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas, is situated high atop an impossibly green mountain some 2000 feet above the Urubamba river. It is the terminus of the famed Inca Trail, and remained undiscovered by outsiders until 1911. Because Machu Picchu was not invaded and plundered by the invading Spanish Conquistadors, it was rich with artifacts when American archeologist Hiram Bingham stumbled across the abandoned, elevated city in the clouds. If you want to see a very special part of the planet, a Machu Picchu vacation may be perfect for you.

If you are in good shape, hike the Inca Trail from Cuzco to Machu Picchu. Two- to seven-day hiking tours are a wonderful way to see this part of the Andes mountains. Ascending gradually allows visitors to adjust to the very high elevation. Machu Picchu cannot be seen from below, so when you ascend the trail and see the city for the first time, it may take your breath away. Bear in mind that the government of Peru closes the Inca Trail to traffic every year in February, so plan your trip accordingly.

It is believed that Machu Picchu was built for several purposes. It may have been a vacation destination for the Inca elite, as well as an astronomical observatory. Machu Picchu was surely a place of ceremony and ritual. The Intihuatana stone was conceived as a sort of sundial, and it is said that if you touch your forehead to this stone, you will be enlightened and spiritually rewarded with inner vision. The Temple of the Condor may have been used for torture. Of course, a sanitized version of this will be presented to tour groups.

If you can afford an extended, luxury Machu Picchu vacation, by all means go for it. There are many inclusive tour packages available which will take you through the Amazon rain forest, Lake Titicaca and the Galapagos islands. South America is an enchanted place, so if you can manage to take a high-end tour for several weeks, you will experience so much more than if you try to visit on your own.

There is only one hotel at Machu Picchu. The Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge is pricey, but totally worth it. Enjoy gourmet meals and refreshing spa treatments along with one of the finest views on the planet. Expect to spend about $800 USD a night, and please don’t forget to tip. While you are in Peru, be sure to try the local delicacies such as Ceviche (raw fish “cooked” in lime juice) and Picante de cuy (barbecued guinea pig). Pachamanca is a tasty dish, made with a mix of meats, potatoes and lima beans cooked in a stone-lined pit. A local fried banana treat called Tacacho con cecina makes an excellent side dish or dessert.

Whether you take a luxury tour or head out on your own, a Machu Picchu vacation will refresh your spirits and expand your view of the world. When you visit Peru or anywhere else, please be a good eco-tourist and leave nothing behind but your footprints.

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