My trips to Perù: where to go, what to see, things to do




The Nazca Lines are still one of the greatest archaeological mysteries to decipher.
In an arid coastal plain of Peru, near the city of Nazca and about 450 km south of the capital Lima, there are a lot of geoglyphs (drawings traced in the ground) depicting animals (whale, monkey, dog, flamingo, spider, condor, lizard, frigate bird, parrot and others), plants, geometric figures and various drawings, extending for several kilometres.


Peru - Nazca Lines map


The lines, 40 to 210 centimeters wide and up to 30 centimeters deep, are perfectly straight even if they cross hills, rough terrain and depressions.
They were traced simply by moving the stones made dark by oxidation from the ground, so that the underlying gravel highlighted the figures with its pale yellow and reddish-brown color.

All the drawings are made with a single continuous line, without interruptions.


Peru - Nazca Lines close up


Their shape is understandable only from above and this increases the mystery of how and why they were created.

The climate of the Nazca plateau, characterized by stable temperatures at 77°F and rains practically non-existent, would have safeguarded the figures to this day.

Since 1994 they have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


The first evidence of the existence of the Nazca Lines dates back to 1547, when the Spaniard Pedro Cieza de Leon spoke of “signs in some areas of the Nazca Desert”.
However, these claims were not investigated at the time and were soon forgotten.

Even if some shapes are visible from the nearby hills, it was pilots of the Peruvian Air Force who reported their presence, after almost four centuries.


Peru - Nazca - agricultural land


In 1929, Peruvian archaeologist Julio Cesar Tello began studying them, describing them as “sacred roads”.
In the same year, American anthropologist Paul Kosok did the same with his partner, the German Maria Reiche Neumann. Their interpretation pointed to a giant solar and lunar calendar with which Nazca astronomers made predictions about harvest and rain.
Maria Reiche Neumann has dedicated her whole life to carrying out research, preserving it and making it known to the world.
Thanks to her work, the Nazca Lines were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994.


Tests with Carbon 14 proved unsuitable for certain dating so the drawings in the plateau were compared with ceramics found in Cahuachi.
Some scientists believe that the drawings were made by the Nazca civilization in different periods, from 300 BC to the 15th century BC, when the Mesoamerican peoples were progressively destroyed by the Spanish conquerors.

It’s possible that they made small-scale drawings and then reproduced them on the ground, multiplying the measurements with a network of poles and ropes.
Taking in mind that at ground level it’s not possible to perceive whether the figures are drawn correctly or not, it is thought that the construction was organized from an elevated place.
A place that may have been a hill, but some scientists proved that the Nazcas had the knowledge to get a hot air balloon up.


Nazca Lines drawn from the hills?



As unfortunately often happens, what we cannot immediately understand we think cannot have a logical explanation.
It seems impossible that civilizations lived before us had much more advanced scientific and engineering knowledge than ours, to the point that we still cannot understand how they were able to build certain constructions or know the cosmos better than we do.

Since the mystery is far from being solved, the hypotheses are a lot. Let’s see some of them.


Peru - Nazca lines - Whale from the plane

Peru – Nazca Lines – Whale from the plane


Peru - Nazca Lines - Whale zoom + highlighted image

Peru – Nazca Lines – Whale zoom + highlighted image


Religious hypothesis

A Spanish document from 1653 explained that in the Inca capital of Cusco the sanctuaries were built along lines that started from the Temple of the Sun.
The Aymarà tribe, who lived near Lake Titicaca, also drew very similar lines to join small stone buildings used for sacred functions.

Similarly, some scientists consider the Nazca Lines to be paths used for religious purposes.
In fact, the drawings have one entrance and one exit line, after having covered the whole figure.
It is therefore easy to imagine crossing it in an single file, as during a procession.
In the vicinity of some of the larger figures were found pieces of ceramic vases, agricultural products and marine animals.

Others assume that the drawings were drawn to be seen by their gods, who obviously lived in the sky.


Peru - Nazca Lines - Humming Bird from the plane

Peru – Nazca lines – Hummingbird from the plane


Peru - Nazca Lines - Humming Bird zoom + highlighted image

Peru – Nazca Lines – Hummingbird zoom + highlighted image


Astronomical hypothesis

Ancient civilizations have demonstrated much more precise and advanced astronomical knowledge than ours.
It is therefore logical that a hypothesis sees a link with astronomical observations.
Some figures have identical orientations to the Pleiades and other constellations while some have intersection points with sunrises or sunsets at certain times of the year.

The Nazca Lines could be a huge astronomical calendar, with figures representing constellations and lines indicating the celestial course of certain stars.

Those who want to dismantle this thesis argue that not all drawings have an identical positioning in the celestial sphere, so the mystery cannot be solved, at least exclusively, with an astronomical calendar.


Peru - Nazca Lines - Spider from the plane

Peru – Nazca lines – Spider from the plane


Peru - Nazca Lines - Spider zoom + highlighted image

Peru – Nazca Lines – Spider zoom + highlighted image


Geological hypothesis

Some researchers see the Nazca Lines as a sacred place where rituals were made for rain and the vital search for water.
For several morphological reasons, water coming down from nearby mountains was absorbed by the desert but continued to flow underground.
The Nazca civilization was able to create sophisticated and ingenious aqueducts, connected by pipelines, from which they extracted water from the aquifers and rivers at a depth of tens of meters.


Peru - Nazca - cultivated areas and desert

Peru – Nazca – cultivated areas and desert


In this way they made very arid lands arable.
Even today you can see large green oases with small pastures and crops of cotton, beans and potatoes.

According to this hypothesis, drawings of the Nazca Lines indicate the placement of fountains, wells, springs, aqueducts, etc.

Artistic hypothesis

However, the Nazca Lines can be considered the greatest graphic work on the Earth.
The drawings are fascinating and geometrically perfect, so one hypothesis assumes that this is a giant art gallery, designed to be observed from above.
And if this is true, one would have to admit that over 2000 years ago man already knew how to fly.


Peru - Nazca Lines - Parrot from the plane

Peru – Nazca lines – Parrot from the plane


Peru - Nazca Lines - Parrot zoom + highlighted image

Peru – Nazca Lines – Parrot zoom + highlighted image


In 2015, a team of researchers from Japan’s Yamagata University presented the theory that geoglyphs have been tracked by at least two cultures and that their purpose has changed over time.
Born to religious worship, they were later made to adorn the pilgrimage route to the pre-Inca city of Cahuachi, capital of Nazca culture.

Extraterrestrial hypothesis

Since one of the figures is called “the astronaut” because its similarity with the appearance we give to extraterrestrial beings, there can of course be no lack of hypotheses on this subject.
The very long lines and gigantic drawings of animal would be a reminder for “prehistoric extraterrestrials”.
Some perfect lines are more than 8 km long and one in even 65 km long.
They could be a landing strip for UFOs.
Or it could be the extraterrestrials who drew the drawings, visible only from above.


Peru - Nazca Lines - Astronaut from the plane

Peru – Nazca lines – Astronaut from the plane


Peru - Nazca lines - astronaut zoom + highlighted image

Peru – Nazca lines – Astronaut zoom + highlighted image


A similar but in some ways even more shocking theory arises from the textiles used by the Nazca.
The filaments were narrower than those used centuries later to build airships and did not even allow water to penetrate.
This does not mean that they knew how to fly balloons or airships, but that they had the tools to do so.

Dinosaur hypotheses

In 1961, not far from here, the River Ica flooded the surrounding village with the same name, bringing to light thousands of decorated stones.
Their existence was already known at least 500 years before, since a chronicler of the time described them as a trousseau of the Inca nobles.
In May 1965, farmer Felix Llosa Romero donated one of these stones to his friend Javier Cabrera Darquea, a surgeon at the Ica Hospital and professor of biology and anthropology at the University of Ica.
In that stone, however, was engraved an agnathus, a fish extinct thousands of years before and certainly unknown to Peruvian farmers.
Cabrera then began to buy all the similar stones, going so far as to have about 15,000 that he decided to exhibit at his own expense in the House of Culture of Ica.


Peru – Ica Stones – Dinosaurs

Peru – Ica Stones – Dinosaurs


The stones are made of granite andesite, the dimensions range from a few centimeters to about one meter and were engraved before oxidation, believed to have occurred around 12,000 BC.
This would mean that those civilizations had incredible technological knowledge.

But even more shocking are the themes of the drawings depicted: dinosaurs and extinct animals, astronomy, maps of ancient continents, cataclysms, medicine and surgical operations.
In short, the drawings on the stones of Ica show very advanced knowledge that a primitive civilization (in our opinion) should not have, and figures of animals extinct millennia before the supposed birth of man.
They also represent interactions between humans and dinosaurs with attitudes similar to those we have with our pets today.


Peru - Ica Stones - Man on triceratop

Peru – Ica Stones – Man on triceratop


If we don’t want to admit that humans and dinosaurs lived together, we have to accept that 12,000 years ago our ancestors found and studied dinosaur fossils.

What is the connection of the Ica stones with the Nazca Lines?
Among the various drawings are some where men ride pterodactyli, observing a stegosaurus with a telescope.
What if the Nazca Lines were observed in this way?

Of course, this thesis is dismantled mainly in two ways.
Most scientists need only the reference to “Darwin’s theory of evolution” and the consequent impossibility of coexistence between dinosaurs (said to be extinct 65 million years ago) and the first hominids (Australopithecus appeared about 4 million years ago and Homo Habilis about 2.5 million years ago).

Others consider the Ica stones a hoax created by Peruvian farmers.
The quality of the designs and the style of the carvings obviously improves in the stones discovered in more recent times.
No doubt the hype has prompted many forgers to decorate some stones to sell them to tourists as souvenirs, but they should also be distinguished from those mentioned 500 years ago…

Sports hypothesis

In 1980 some researchers carried on the idea that the Nazca plateau was a great sports arena, where “Olympic Games” were organized.
The lines would then be circuits where the competitions took place.


Peru - Nazca Lines - Frigate from the plane

Peru – Nazca lines – Frigate Bird from the plane



Peru - Nazca Lines - Frigate zoom + highlighted image

Peru – Nazca Lines – Frigate Bird zoom + highlighted image



Before departure

The best way to get your own idea is always to see for yourself what you’re talking about.
To see the Nazca Lines you have to arrive in the homonymous Peruvian town.
Cruz del Sur buses connect Nazca with Lima, Paracas, Arequipa, Cusco and Puno.


Peru, Nazca

Peru, Nazca city


But as I said, the only way to see the drawings is from above.
The essential stop is therefore the Nazca Airport, from where the small planes flying over the desert daily.

Almost two months in advance, after reading so many reviews, I booked the fly with Aeroparacas company.


Peru - Nazca Lines - AeroParacas


Arriving at their offices on the chosen day, there was no trace of our conversations but I still pay 90 euros for a flight that would take off after about two hours.
In the small airport your passport is checked and you are weighed. This passage is essential because you will fly on small Cessna and the plane must be balanced.
Aeroparacas’ seriousness with me has been non-existent.
Despite having paid in advance, I was put on the waiting list, warned several times that maybe the airport was going to close due to the sandstorms, only to be boarded shortly after making a memorable outburst.
After 6 hours of patient waiting.

The flight

My advice is therefore to go to the airport early in the morning by yourself and ask at the check-in desks of all the companies for the nearest departure time and the best price.
The cost is about 80 euros to see 12 figures in 30 minutes of flight, or 150 euros for 20 figures in 60 minutes.
Much higher prices are not justified.

As said, the planes are Cessna with 7 seats: the pilot, the co-pilot (who will explain each figure to recognize it quickly, following the tip of the wing) and 5 passengers (two in the first row, two in the second row and one in the queue).


Peru - Nazca Lines - AeroParacas interior aircraft

Peru – Nazca Lines – into the AeroParacas airplane


Everyone has headphones to listen to the co-pilot and a map showing the plane’s route and the location of each geoglyph.
The figures are not always immediately distinguishable and it will take concentration and imagination to recognize them in the midst of many lines that ply the ground. And you need also a great eye view.

ou have to be aware that the flight will not be quiet but the plane will constantly tilt first to one side and then to the other, to allow everyone to see the famous Nazca Lines.
Or rather, to allow it to those who do not suffer from the plane and can see well.


Peru - Nazca Lines - Monkey from the plane

Peru – Nazca Lines – Monkey from the plane



Peru - Nazca Lines - Monkey zoom + highlighted area

Peru – Nazca Lines – Monkey zoom + highlighted area


If you know that you’re afraid to fly, that you can’t handle the inclinations of the plane, if you suffer from vertigo or if you don’t see well from a distance… Forget it.
And, in any case, avoid having breakfast before your flight.
You would spend at least 90 euros not to distinguish any drawings or, worse, to spend the whole flight vomiting while, with your eyes closed by fear, you pray to come back to the ground alive.

I sat in the back of the plane and that allowed me to see both the left and the right sides.
I filmed the entire flight and only on landing did I realize that the other 4 passengers had experienced the worst flight of their lives, or maybe the worst nightmare ever.


Peru - Nazca Lines - plane route on figures



The uniqueness and mysteries of the Nazca Lines make this place a destination to visit to reflect on what you see.
They have fascinated me more than Machu Picchu, but that doesn’t mean I was excited.
On the contrary, they left me with a lot of doubts and perplexities.

Obviously I’m not a scientist, historian, geologist etc but I travel to see the world with my own eyes, analyze and make my ideas.


Peru - Nazca Lines - Flower from the plane

Peru – Nazca lines – Flower from the plane



Peru - Nazca Lines - Flower zoom + highlighted image

Peru – Nazca Lines – Flower zoom + highlighted image


The first thing I thought as soon as I got off the plane was “it’s not possible that these drawings have been there since 2500 years, where planes can’t fly because wind and sandstorms.”
There are lines 40 centimeters wide and 30 centimeters deep: it’s not possible that in 2500 years rain and wind have not buried them or that someone has not unkkedly ruined them or by vandalism.
It is true that some figures have now been almost completely erased by the construction of the Panamerican or by tyre tracks.
Some drawings also seemed to me too “futuristic” to have been made 2500 years ago.

Believing that the climate that has remained unchanged for millennia has protected the drawings, my idea is that they were made by different civilizations and in very different times.
I think that the first lines were made for religious reasons: the gods were invoked (maybe each figure represented a different deity) and processions were made along the lines in single line.


Peru - Nazca Lines - Flamingo Heron Alcatraz from the plane

Peru – Nazca Lines – Flamingo Heron Alcatraz from the plane



Peru - Nazca Lines - Heron Flamingo Alcatraz zoom + highlighted image

Peru – Nazca Lines – Flamingo Heron Alcatraz zoom + highlighted image


I have no doubt that some ancient civilizations had much more advanced knowledge and specialization than our current ones.
That’s why I’m sure that they wouldn’t have had difficulty in drawing complex and mile-long figures using poles and ropes.
But above all I do not deny that they could have had the ability to look at them from above with flying objects similar to hot-air balloons or airships.
The truthfulness of the Ica stones and the consequent thesis of coexistence, moreover friendly, between humans and dinosaurs is fascinating but perhaps more difficult to support than the previous one.


Peru - Ica Stones - T Rex

Peru – Ica Stones – T Rex


Ancient civilizations (Maya, Aztecs, Egyptians, Shardana, Babylonians, Persians, etc.) had much more advanced astronomical knowledge than ours. This was seen both from the calendars and in their constructions linked to celestial events at particular periods of the year (not only sunrises and sunsets but equinoxes, solstices, eclipses…).
This obviously makes me think that some drawings depict constellations, celestial routes or otherwise cosmic events.
In part, the Nazca Lines are an astronomical calendar.

I also support the artistic hypothesis, which is also divided into at least two historical periods.
One is related to the period when pilgrimages were made to the capital Cahuachi.
They could have been signs, prayers or, why not murals by the “young Nazca vandals writers”.


Peru - Nazca Lines - Tree Lizard Hands from the plane

Peru – Nazca lines – Tree Lizard Hands from the plane



Peru - Nazca Lines - Hand Tree Lizard Zoom + highlighted image

Peru – Nazca Lines – Tree Lizard Hand zoom + highlighted image

The second historical period, or at least the last, in my opinion dates back to the present day.
Some forms are too futuristic, almost identical to characters from movies, comics or cartoons.
Maybe I’m too skeptical, but these were in my opinion made to “increase the myth” and create new sources of investment and profit.

What would the city of Nazca be if the Lines weren’t there?
Would there be a flow of tourists, travelers, curious, scientists, ufologists etc if there were no Lines?
Would there be airlines, hotels and all the economic income if the Lines weren’t there?

What do you think? What idea have you had about the Nazca Lines?
Leave a comment.


Peru - Nazca Lines - Condor from the plane

Peru – Nazca lines – Condor from the plane



Peru - Nazca Lines - Condor zoom + highlighted image

Peru – Nazca Lines – Condor zoom + highlighted image






Each of us is the result of our own experiences and this is even more true for traveller who go around the world to know populations, cultures and traditions very different from those in which they were born.
Traveling with eyes, mind and heart opened, we could learn and get better.
In this case, however, I speak of experiences because visiting a lot of places around the world, we have also several parameters of comparison.


Earth map with place visited on my travels Matteo


Visiting one place before another influences our perception of beauty and wonder.
You should perhaps see the most beautiful places after other trips but this is not always possible.
We cannot say that one place is more amazing that another without having seen it…

Another parameter of comparison (for me and many others, maybe not for everyone) is the amount you spend.
I talked with some people who went to Machu Picchu on their honeymoon.
This is a decisive factor: is different if you have a fully paid trip or have to pay as little as possible and what you considered “the correct price”.


This anticipation was necessary to understand why for me is difficult to talk about Machu Picchu, the place that left me with the most deep sense of disappointment.

Maybe I should think in an objective way, imagining that I went to Machu Picchu for free and without having seen other wonders of the world (official or considered by myself), but the web is full of similar stories.
I only tell what I saw and the emotions I felt. Neither right nor wrong but real and sincere.

My previous experiences have a great influence on the following considerations.
Peru Peru is not the first trip I’ve made and having first seen the Mayan cities (Palenque and Yaxchilan), the Aztec city of Teotihuacan and the Temples of Angkor, make me little wonder at Machu Picchu.

Beautiful but… I’ve been to… here instead…


statues and sign Welcome to Machu Picchu - village of Aguas Calientes - Peru


I consider totally negative a visit to the Machu Picchu site also because the absurd and insane amount you have to pay.
Many times I asked myself if I did something wrong but I could have saved a bit of money only with a huge physical effort (possible but I also had to consider that this was the final part of my one-month trip in Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru, with a temperature change of 70°C and an altitude difference of about 6,000 meters).

I’ll explain all the details soon but I anticipate that going to Machu Picchu costs about USD 450..

Nice but… here I paid… there instead…



Machu Picchu, in native Quechua language Machu Pikchu, “old mountain”, is the 3,082 meters high mountain where the Incas built the city.
Over the years, the name was also associated with the archaeological site.
World Heritage Site and one of the seven wonders of the modern world, is universally known for its scenic location, embedded between the peaks of the Urubamba River valley.


Peru - landscape of Machu Picchu from the archaeological site


The city, or perhaps only the summer residence of the emperor and the Inca nobility, should have been built around the year 1440 and inhabited until the Spanish conquest in 1532 by a permanent population of about 300 people, with a peak of 1,000 when the emperor went.
It was never abandoned or forgotten, but occasionally inhabited by a few indigenous who used the agricultural terraces and the complex water channels.

On July 24, 1911 the american Hiram Bingham arrived at the top of the mountain and was impressed by what he saw.


Peru - landscape from the top of Machu Picchu Mountain


Realizing at once the historical importance of those ruins, he carried out international excavations and publications, with the support of the Peruvian government, Yale University and National Geographic.

In a few years Machu Picchu became the main tourist destination in Peru.




The first stop is to arrive in the city of Cusco.
There are at least two ways, depending on the departure and the time available.
The airport of Cusco is connected to the capital Lima with numerous daily flights and the prices are very low. It may be the best solution if you have limited days and arrive in Lima with international flights (from Europe or, usually, from Mexico City, Santiago de Chile, Bogota or Buenos Aires).

Otherwise you can get to Cusco by bus. I recommend this if you are coming from the south (for example Nasca or Arequipa) or from Bolivia (better if after a day stop in Puno to see the tourist floating villages on Lake Titicaca).
The best quality/price solution should be the Cruz del Sur company.


Peru - bus Cruz del Sur


I used it for some trips and the buses are very clean and immaculate.
The seats on the 1st floor (semi-cama), even if the seats are lowered a little less, they still allow you to sleep peacefully.
Thinking about the comfort of reclining the seat 170°, I chose the ticket for the upper floor. But, like everything else, respect is always needed.
It’s nice stay almost like in a bed, but it means that the person behind will not be able to move because the front seat will rest on his/her knees.
I spent an entire 13-hour journey fighting with the “enemy” of the seat in front of me: he would slam the seat on my knees to tilt it to the maximum and I stopped him with punches and kicks in the backrest and headrest.
Imagine how relaxing this trip was…


From Cusco to Aguas Calientes

Once in Cusco you have to find a way to get to Aguas Calientes, the small village that seems to have been created only to take all money of those who go to Machu Picchu.

To make it simple, there are 4 solutions:

1. Gipsy Trip: from the square of Cusco leave the colectivos (shared vans, classic means of transport throughout South America) to Hidroelectrica. The cost of this trip is about USD 10.
From Hidroelectica you walk for about 30 km until the village of Aguas Calientes.


Peru - Sacred Inca Valley seen from the train Perurail Cusco Ollantaytambo Aguas Calientes Machu Picchu


2. Perurail train: the easiest but obviously also the most expensive solution is the direct connection, crossing the landscapes of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
The trains have large panoramic windows, comfortable seats and include a free snack and drink.
A few months before departure I thought it was impossible that the train ticket cost USD 180 (round trip) and I decided to wait and found a better solution in Cusco.
Instead there the price had gone up around USD 300.


Peru - Perurail train to Machu Picchu at Ollantaytambo station


3. Middle way: I didn’t want to pay it USD 300 but I was also too tired to think of doing 60 km with my backpack, so I chose the classic “middle way”.
I took a colectivos from Cusco to the intermediate railway station of Ollantaytambo, and from there the Perurail train to Aguas Calientes. I booked a last minute ticket for about USD 110 one way.

4. Inca Trail: considered one of the most beautiful treks in the world, it usually takes 4 or 5 days.
Tickets are limited to 500 people, of which about 300 are local guides (required).
The old 43 km long mountain trail links the Inca archaeological sites of Runcuracay, Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca, Winay Wayna and Machu Picchu.
Prices range from USD 650 to USD 1,500 depending on the duration and comfort required.


Peru - cosmorevas Inca Trail Machu Picchu map



The Government of Peru often varies the conditions and times of access (it has tried to impose stricter time slots and shorter stay times). Per quanto io cerchi di tenere sempre queste informazioni aggiornate, è meglio fare le verifiche al momento opportuno.

The official website to buy tickets directly is
Choose with the most attention the date and time of entry because access is very fiscal and punctual.
Theoretically the stay at the site is not infinite but the times are limited in according to the ticket bought. No one will look to throw you out, but if you are at fault (but do it anyway) avoid to attract the attention of the guardians for incorrect or forbidden behaviour acts. Per esempio, pur se li ritengo For example, even if I consider them absurd and shameful, it’s forbidden to enter with backpacks or bags larger than 40x35x20 cm, bring food or drinks that have not been purchased on the site and have trekking sticks, umbrellas, camera tripods or smartphone holders.

There are 3 types of ticket:
– Machu Picchu: 2.300 places per day, entrance limited to the Inca city, cost about USD 60..
Places are limited to 800 accesses from 6am to 9am, 600 from 9am to 12, 360 from 12am to 1pm and 540 from 1pm to 2pm.
Theoretically you can stay in the site 4 hours from the moment of entry but there are not checks about it.

– Machu Picchu + Mountain: 400 places per day, including a visit to the Inca city and trekking on Machu Picchu Mountain, cost about USD 80 (discounts for children, students and citizens of Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador).
There are 3 times available: 100 places to enter Machu Picchu from 06am and start trekking on the Mountain from 07am to 08am, 100 places to enter the Mountain at the same time but in the city only after the trekking, and the last 200 tickets to enter Machu Picchu from 08am and the Mountain from 09am to 10am
You could stay on the site for a maximum of 8 hours, while the return from the Mountain must take place before 1pm.
I chose to book this ticket as “the middle way”: entering only the archaeological site seemed reductive to me, the Inca Trail was instead excessive and this mountain is higher than Huayna Picchu and therefore more panoramic.

The climb to Machu Picchu Mountain was very hard and tiring.
I had read that it takes 2-4 hours to reach the top and go down.
I tell that after more than 2 hours of climb on the steep path, among irregular dirt tracks and narrow steps, in the middle of the jungle and with the fauna represented mainly by mosquitoes and gnats, I decided to stop and come down.
This is also because, beyond the physical and mental effort, climbing the mountain was very boring.
As you climb the landscape is always the same, only seen from a greater height. I would have climbed to the top to see a totally different landscape, but to see the same I’ve not found a good reason.
It is obviously a subjective thought but, while relaxing on the stairs, I talked with other “climbers” and nobody found a motivation to climb to the top.
We all started off excited but, who first and who later, we gave up, evaluating the excessive effort compared to the achievable result.


Peru - stairs to Machu Picchu Mountain


– Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu: 400 places per day, including a visit to the Inca city and trekking on the Machu Picchu Mountain, cost about USD 80.
There are 3 times available: 100 places to enter Machu Picchu from 06am and start the trek from 07am to 08am, 100 places to enter the same time in Huayna Picchu but in the city only after the trek, and last 200 tickets to enter Machu Picchu from 08am and Huayna Picchu from 10am to 11am.
You could stay a total of 6 hours but the excursion to Huayna Picchu takes about 3 hours.

Huayna Picchu is the “young mountain”, 2693 meters high, famous for appearing behind the archaeological site in classic panoramic photos.
The ascent takes place on a narrow, steep, zigzag path, with sections where the stairs are directly carved into the rock.
This trek is not recommended for those who suffer from vertigo because its precipices and access is only allowed to +12 years.
You should reach the top in about 1 hour, but I haven’t climbed it so cannot confirm this information.


Peru - landscape of Huayna Picchu Mountain and the Andes Mountain from Machu Picchu Mountain



Let’s take a closer look at the archaeological site of Machu Picchu.
The royal Inca city of Machu Picchu is located in the Andes Mountains, between the prominent peaks of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, on a high mountain ridge with steep precipices as far as the Urubamba River and near the springs of the Amazon River. It’s also located in a highly seismic region, constantly affected by strong earthquakes and subject to heavy rainfall throughout the year.

Despite this, the city is still intact, demonstrating the high technical and scientific knowledge of the Inca civilization, which hadn’t written language and didn’t know the wheel or the iron.

The complex is divided into two large areas: the urban area and the agricultural area, separated by large squares.
The site is, however, largely to be deciphered, the names and functions of the structures are hypothetical and still under investigation.

Peru - landscape of Machu Picchu Square and Huayna Picchu Mountain with Andes Mountain

The urban area

Houses were built here and civil and religious activities were also done.
The Temple of the Sun is one of the best examples of organic Inca architecture and the only circular building in Machu Picchu.
In the lower part there are symbols and steps, inside a sculpture and niches used for ceremonial purposes related to the cult of the dead.
In the upper part, a large sculpted rock served as an altar while the windows were used for observing astronomical events.
For a Sardinian it’s immediate to associate it, both in shape and use, with a nuraghe.

Under the Temple of the Sun, almost hidden, there is a natural stone cave known as the royal tomb because some scientists suppose that it was the mausoleum of the Inca emperor Pachacutec.


Peru - Machu Picchu - Temple of the Sun


The capanna del custode is one of the few renovated buildings.
Its high thatched roof is the most accepted hypothesis of how the original roofs of the houses were.



Peru - caretaker's hut Machu Picchu


The agricultural area

The secret of its longevity is the drainage system.
The urban area has 129 canals that prevent landslides and erosion, canalising all the water to the agricultural area of the city and to the spring area, providing a perennial spring of water.
Here the foundations of the agricultural terraces have been built with stone retaining walls, a thick layer of surface soil and, deep down, larger stones, gravel and chiselled stone shavings.


Peru - agricultural terraces Machu Picchu


This perfect engineering work ensured the necessary drainage to prevent rainwater stagnation and erosion of the hills.
There was no irrigation system on the terraces because the Incas considered rain to be sufficient for this purpose.


Peru - Machu Picchu - into the city



In this computation I prefer to omit the costs, too variable and subjective, to arrive from any place in the world to the city of Cusco. So I focus on how to reach Machu Picchu from Cusco.

Cusco: the city certainly deserves a few days dedicated but, beyond that, it’s better to sleep here after visiting the archaeological site. You could still stay in Aguas Calientes but, as said, there the costs are much higher while in Cusco you can find a bed for USD 5.

Train: the price varies depending on the travel period, the booking date (I booked the last day in Cusco because I didn’t think that the prices seen online were real) and the departure station.
In general you have to pay about USD 150 from Cusco to Aguas Calientes and USD 100 from the intermediate station of Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes.
So USD 300 or USD 200 round trip.


Peru - Ollantaytambo Station


Colectivos: the alternative to the train is to use the colectivos (vans with which you share the trip with other people) to reach the town of Hidroelectrica in about 7 hours and from there continue on foot along the railway tracks for almost 15 kilometres until you reach Aguas Calientes.
The colectivos can also be used for the Cusco – Ollantaytambo route.
In both cases the amount is around USD 5 or 10.

Aguas Calientes: you must sleep here at least one night and it’s difficult to find accommodation for less than USD 20.
Everything (souvenirs, drinks or simple empanadas) is at least three times more expensive than what you would pay in Cusco. So get organized in advance so as not to leave crazy amounts at the market or in a restaurant.


Peru - city of Aguas Calientes base to go to Machu Picchu


Bus: access to the site at 06am implies a wake-up call well before the sunrise, in order to be at the bus stop at least at 03.30am An excessive delay means having to queue for kilometres which, just seeing it, could make you burst into a desperate neurotic cry.
Buses leave from Aguas Calientes from 05.30am to 3.30pm and come back until 5.45pm.
The cost of the ticket is about USD 20 round trip.
The alternative is of course a 10 km walk. I have heard that it takes at least 2 hours, also considering that the climb is long and the buses have no regard to run raising dirt and dust.


Peru - Machu Picchu - Aguas Calientes bus queue


Access ticket: as I explained before (and waiting for updates) the price ranges from about USD 60 to USD 80.

Guide: when I went, the guide was optional. Now it would seem obligatory at a cost of USD 75.
However, it seems that you can still access the site without paying this additional fee.

To recapitulate, we can therefore consider 4 price ranges:

1. Gipsy experience : USD 100 ( + about 80 km on foot)
colectivos Cusco – Hidroelectrica + 30 km walk to Aguas Calientes + walk up to Machu Picchu + entrance to the site + return in the same way.

2. Expensive comfort: USD 450
night in Cusco + colectivos Cusco – Ollantaytambo + train Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes + night in Aguas Calientes + bus to Machu Picchu + entrance to the site + return in the same way + various expenses.

3. Inca Trail: from USD 650 to USD 1.500
according to the durability and comfort required.

4. Business class: ∞
as someone said, “to infinity and beyond”.



Is it worth going to Machu Picchu?
Yes, of course! Despite all the negative notes I mentioned, it’s a place to see.
Machu Picchu is still a historic place, one of those destinations that represents a point of arrival.
What makes it unique is the place itself, a city built on top of a mountain, surrounded by the Peruvian Andes mountain.
Its beauty can be elevated by the mystical and mysterious atmosphere that creates clouds, fog and sun.
It’s probably a destination more for tourists than for travellers, but it’s a place where each of us, once in our lives, should go.


Peru - landscape from Machu Picchu Mountain




Peru - light in Machu Picchu

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