The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu is often the centerpiece of any visitor to Peru, and even to South America. The designation of Machu Picchu as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and election as one of the New Wonders of the Modern World only add to its appeal. A Machu Picchu tour involves admiring flawless Inca stonework, enjoying incredible views of surrounding peaks emerging from the mist, and marveling at the skill and ingenuity employed in the planning of the extraordinary Machu Picchu Sanctuary.
Construction of Machu Picchu is thought to have taken place in the 15th century, possibly overlapping with the arrival of the Spanish in Cusco. Throughout the ruins, it is possible to observe a range of Inca stonework, from the highly-skilled, finely-executed work used in the construction of sacred temples, to the more pragmatic work used for storage building and similar. While the main complex area is incredible and an essential and worthwhile use of your limited time at Machu Picchu trail, there is also a great deal to see and do outside of the most popular areas.
For those seeking a respite from the crowds and the opportunity to completely immerse in the Machu Picchu trek experience, there are multiple options. Some are free and can be included on a one-day visit of the Machu Picchu travel package. Others require an additional entry fee and possible return for a second day. Shorter activities of the Machu Picchu holiday package include an easy walk to the thrilling Inca Bridge, and a slightly more challenging hike to Inti Punku, where the Inca Trail meets Machu Picchu. The rewards of the Inti Punku hike include dramatic views of Machu Picchu trail from above and the opportunity to observe a portion of the official Inca Trail.
Options that require an additional fee and possibly a second day at Machu Picchu hiking are hikes to Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Montaña. Each hike is an ascent to different peaks overlooking the ruins, and both require an entry fee that must be purchased in advance. Of the two, Machu Picchu Montaña is the lesser-known and more physically challenging option. For this extra challenge, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views and a less populated trail.
The Huayna Picchu climb is now a very popular addition to a Machu Picchu holiday tour visit, and sells out well in advance. The climb is challenging, but shorter than Machu Picchu Montaña, so less time and effort is required. A bonus of adding Huayna Picchu is the opportunity to visit Templo de la Luna (Moon Temple), an amazing and often overlooked option.