by Isaiah Brookshire
If there is one thing everyone wants to know about Machu Picchu, it is whether or not the famed ruins live up to their status as one of the wonders of the world. In my opinion, the answer is yes, with a few caveats.
First of all, visitors to this ancient site need to understand what it is. While Machu Picchu may have once been a lost city, that hasn’t been true for about a hundred years. The jungle has been pushed back, turnstiles have been added, and repairs have been made to crumbling sections of the stonework. That said, it still remains one of the most amazing archeological sites on the globe. In fact, I think it has a leg-up on the competition in many areas.
Machu Picchu is crowded but in comparison to historical sites like Angkor Wat or the Vatican, it’s practically deserted. In fact, those who arrive early will only have to share the site with a few hundred other visitors — a comparatively small number.
Where Machu Picchu really shines is location. Let’s face it, the Giza Pyramids are a stones-throw from busy Cairo neighborhoods and the Roman Colosseum is in middle of a traffic circle. Machu Picchu, on the other hand, is located high in the Andes and circled by a cascading river. The views would be considered world-class even if the ruins had never existed.
The natural setting of this Incan city surpasses any other historic site I have ever visited. The steep grandeur of the mountains that surround Machu Picchu inspires awe, and the sheer drops off some of the edges might even inspire a little vertigo. Machu Picchu certainly does live up to the hype and understanding what you are in for can help you get the most out of it.
Here are some tips for getting the best experience from your visit:
- If you can, go without expectations. Approaching Machu Picchu with an open mind and not basing your expectations on photographs or stories will allow you to appreciate the site for what it really is.
- Go early. In this instance, the early bird really does get the worm. If you can ride one of the first few buses up, you will find Machu Picchu much less crowded.
- Go with a good guide. There are many theories surrounding Machu Picchu and its history is still clouded by time. A guide who is honest and educated will help you understand the subtleties that make this place such a compelling piece of our human heritage.
For more information on treks and tours to Machu Picchu, visit our website at www.apus-peru.com.