• By: Leslie Westbrook

    12/15/2017

  • Many travel to this remote wonder, but few experience it as intimately as Classic Journeys’ guests.

    Shrouded by nearly impenetrable jungle, and thus protected from the Spanish conquistadors who ravaged most of Peru’s ancient archeological treasures, “The Lost City of the Incas” was revealed to the Western world in 1911 when Hiram Bingham stumbled upon it during an expedition. Explorers have been fascinated by the site ever since and, once word got out in a landmark 1913 National Geographic article, so have generations of travelers. “I’ve been to Machu Picchu more than 1,000 times over my 16 years of guiding trips here, and it never fails to take my breath away,” says Fredy, an anthropologist and Classic Journeys’ guide. “There are places to explore here that have never been touched by archeologists. I love sharing the majesty of Machu Picchu with guests.” Here are Classic Journeys’ guides, Fredy and husband-and-wife team Marisol and Franklin’s perspective on how to visit Machu Picchu and bring its magnitude to life for visitors.

    Guests posing at Machu Picchu

    SEE IT ALL

    Most visitors travel thousands of miles only to spend a scant few hours viewing this 15th-century archeological wonder. Classic Journeys’ guests, in contrast, can choose to take the famed train from the Sacred Valley or hike the Inca Trail to the site and enjoy the iconic, jaw-dropping view from the Sun Gate before settling in for two nights at the critically acclaimed Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. Guests explore at their own pace over three days, both in the company of expert guides and on their own. Explore the site and the river valley, and still have time to indulge at the hotel’s spa, collect tea leaves from the property’s tranquil tea plantation or unwind with a pisco sour, Peru’s national drink.

    Inkatera Hotel, Peru

    TAKE IN THE DETAILS

    Although the views are spectacular, it’s the details that bring Machu Picchu to life for visitors. “I love showing travelers the astronomical area; thinking about how early Incans accurately traced the movements of the sun and moon is mind-blowing,” says Marisol. “One of my favorite tips on how to see Machu Picchu is to visit the Inca Bridge. Few other visitors make the easy hike, and it’s an excellent vantage for taking photographs.” Fredy likes visiting the large residential sector, which includes the Temple of the Four Elements and the royal residence, as well as a production center where it’s easy to imagine ancient weavers, potters and silversmiths hard at work.

    Guests walking down path around Machu Picchu

    MAKE A SPIRITUAL CONNECTION

    Constructed from huge, hand-hewn blocks along a high mountain ridge, with sweeping views of the Sacred Valley below, Machu Picchu’s remote geography, coupled with its awe-inspiring architecture, makes for a unique atmosphere. “Not only is Machu Picchu an architectural marvel,” says Fredy, “it was also a bustling, self-supporting community filled with life.” The flow of “good energy” through Machu Picchu is palpable, adds Marisol. “When I’m asked how to visit Machu Picchu, I encourage guests to take time to experience the site by themselves—to really feel the energy that fills this place,” she says. A late-afternoon visit, when there are fewer people and you can take in the sunset and enjoy the view in peace, is especially conducive to reflective meditation.

    Machu Picchu with a Llama

    HAVE FUN WITH HISTORY

    “When you’re with a family—or any group, really—there are different levels of attention spans and interests,” Fredy says. “I enjoy explaining Andean philosophy and architecture to parents and their children in ways that are fun and relatable to everyone.” Another Machu Picchu tip is to introduce your kids to acoustics: There’s one spot in the main plaza where you can clap and hear it echo across the valley.  Kids are also universally captivated by the herds of grazing llamas, as well as by the Temple of the Condor, which features a grouping of walls that, when viewed from a certain perspective, resemble the shape of the temple’s namesake bird.

    Spend 7 days and 6 nights exploring Peru and Machu Picchu with Classic Journeys on a Cultural Walking Adventure or Family Journey. Call 800.200.3887 to reserve, and then start preparing for your big adventure!

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