Machu Picchu in photos
Whether you reach Machu Picchu on foot, via the iconic Inca Trail trek, or by bus from the gateway town town of Aguas Calientes, it cannot fail to capture your heart. The ancient citadel, surrounded by mountains, is a magnificent sight, made all the more intriguing by the fact that no one really knows what purpose it served during the Incan times. Theories abound, but ultimately it is up to each individual visitor to soak up the atmosphere and come to their own conclusions....
Intipunku, or the sungate, is where the Inca Trail ends and is regarded as the pilgrim's entrance to Machu Picchu. Day visitors can hike up to this point from the ticket entrance, it takes about an hour to reach the point. Most trekkers aim to reach here at sunrise, when the sun casts its first light of the day through the neighbouring mountains.
At this time of morning, the initial early morning view down to the ruins can be slightly disappointing,m especially for those arriving via the trek. The citadel is usually entirely shrouded in cloud, so there is not much to see. However, if you are patient and wait a while, then the cloud is slowly burned away by the heat of the sun and the ruins begin to emerge in all their glory.
As you descend towars the ruins, the view changes with every step, as new parts of the complex come into view. Compared to the archaeological sites of the Sacred Valley and along the Inca Trail, Machu PIcchu is vast, with Incan terraces and ancient buildings set against the back drop of the Huayna Picchu mountain.
Away from the main ruins, it is possible to hike to the ancient Incan Bridge, about a 20 minute walk. It is worth the effort as it demonstrates the sheer audacity of the Incan builders. This bridge, constructed along a sheer rock face, with stomach wrenching drops to the Urubamba river below, formed another exit from the site into the jungle, along a network of Incan Trails.
On the way back from the Incan Bridge, there is a stunning view of the ruins from a different angle. Fewer visitors come up to this part of the site, so it makes for a fantastic spot to sit and take it all in.