Machu Picchu, the mysterious Incan citadel was a destination which was on our to go list for many years. It is one of the bucket list destination/ the place you want to see before you die; for millions around the world. Hidden amongst the peaks of mighty Andes, this was one of the last refuges for Incan civilization before the takeover by the Spanish invaders. You can find more info about its history on the wiki.

For centuries, a circuitous and stressful hike from a base near Urubamba was the only way to reach this place. But now with rail roads and towns close by, it is much easier. Many folks still prefer the long hike spanning many days to reach this place. The trail used is called the Inca trail. Not being such avid hikers, we took the normal and easier route of flying to Cuzco, driving down to Urubamba or sacred valley and then taking a train to the base of Machu Picchu, called Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu pueblo. From there it is just a short bus ride to the Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu entrance tickets have to be bought (preferably online) well in advance. Only a limited number of permits are issued each day, so make sure to get your tickets in advance through your hotel or a travel agency. First leg is the flight to Lima, the capital of Peru. If you have time you can explore Lima for a day or two.

Our Itinerary was a bit hectic since we had plans to visit Argentina and Brazil after Peru.So we landed in Lima in the evening, checked into Costa Del Sol Lima airport and stayed overnight. It has a decent restaurant and a great buffet breakfast. After the breakfast, We then headed to Cusco (an hour flight). Cusco itself is located at an altitude of 11000 feet.So longer you stay there, more the chances of altitude sickness. This fact along with our itinerary meant we travel to Sacred Valley/Urubamba immediately. Urubamba and Ollantaytambo are the two popular bases for tourists to catch a train to Aguas Calientas (base of Machu Picchu) We chose Urubamba (located at 8300 feet above sea level which meant very little chance of altitude sickness). We stayed at the wonderful Tambo Del Inca resort.

It has its own train station from where we caught the train to Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu Pueblo.

We stayed in a cosy Bed and Breakfast called Eco Machu Pichhu Pueblo at Aguas Calientes for 2 nights. We dropped our luggage at the hotel and quickly caught the bus to Machu Picchu. It is a 5 mile uphill ride which takes about 20 mins. The ride itself is very scenic.

Since we stayed for 2 days we had chance to visit Machu Picchu on both days. We went thrice, once in the noon on the day we arrived, Once before sunrise the next day(magical!) and once that evening(hardly any crowd).

The weather over two days was varied so we could get both sunny and cloudy views of this beautiful place

It is always good to be staying here atleast two days to make sure you get many chances to view this wonder. Coming all the way and turning back due to bad weather would be heart-breaking.

A visit before sunrise is a must, as it is magical to view the first rays of sun lighting up the whole monument.

On the day back we unwinded at Tambo Del Inka again before heading to Cusco and then to Lima. We stayed at Costa Del Sol again overnight and the next morning caught the direct flight to Iguazu falls(Brazillian side airport).

If you want to avoid the crowds, visit after 2PM.

There are multiple hikes to explore and view this place including the famous Huayna Picchu hike. The other big one is Montana Picchu. Travelling with a toddler meant both of those were not feasible for us, but one can get enough of Machu Picchu by just climbing up to the Watchman's hut.

Most of the famous pictures of Machu Picchu you see on the web are taken from this place and views are indeed breathtaking. A whole mountain was used as the base for this structure which has terraced fields for growing crops, quarters for peasants, special structures for kings and the high society and astronomical observatories. It is basically a city in the mountain. The structure as seen from the watchman's hut looks like a human face! A guide is highly recommend at-least during the first visit to get a god feel of all the features, routes and history. The next visit , you can explore the whole place on your own. If you have more time it might be worth visiting other monuments in the sacred valley for a few days.

Make sure to get the Machu Picchu stamp on the passport! nice way to remember this gorgeous place every time you travel internationally. For trip planning wiki travel is a good site:

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