Does Machu Picchu live up to the hype?

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.

The Central ruins at Machu Picchu. Photo by Isaiah Brookshire.

The Central ruins at Machu Picchu. Photo by Isaiah Brookshire.

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.

Overlooking Machu Picchu, another fantastic perspective from Isaiah Brookshire.

Overlooking Machu Picchu, another fantastic perspective from Isaiah Brookshire.

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.

We see many photographs of Mach Picchu, this one has a slightly different perspective.  Photo by Isaiah Brookshire.

We see many photographs of Mach Picchu, this one has a slightly different perspective. Photo by Isaiah Brookshire.

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.

Having a guide at Machu Picchu helps add to your understanding of this mysterious site.  Here, Apus Peru guide Herbert Saldivar  helps point out the different landmarks in the fog. Photo by Isaiah Brookshire.

Having a guide at Machu Picchu helps add to your understanding of this mysterious site. Here, Apus Peru guide Herbert Saldivar helps point out the different landmarks in the fog. Photo by Isaiah Brookshire.

Here are some tips for getting the best experience from your visit:

  1.  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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

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One thought on “Does Machu Picchu live up to the hype?

  1. “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.”

    Thereby hangs a tale.
    The corollary of this is that if you DO approach Machu Picchu with expectations established by photos and stories, the reality might wind up falling short.
    How, precisely?
    What misleading impressions do some of these “photographs or stories” risk instilling?
    Even the very title of your post (does it live up to the hype?) indicates that there’s at least some question that, for people who don’t approach a visit in the proper frame of mind, there is a good possibility that it would not.
    Please don’t leave us all hanging here?

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