Seven Wonders: Machu Picchu

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Imagine yourself at Machu Picchu, perched on a mountain ridge 2,350 meters (7,710 feet) above sea level, surrounded by jungle and clouds of mist. With its dramatic history, amazing stone architecture, and majestic natural setting, the Inca citadel is an enduring highlight of a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Peru.

For many visitors to Peru and even South America, a visit to the Inca city of Machu Picchu is the long-anticipated highpoint of their trip. In a spectacular location, it’s the best-known archaeological site on the continent. This awe-inspiring ancient city was never revealed to the conquering Spaniards and was virtually forgotten until the early part of the 20th century. In the high season, from late May until early September, 2500 people arrive daily. Despite this great tourist influx, the site manages to retain an air of grandeur and mystery, and is a must for all visitors to Peru.

The Intihuatana stone

This carved pillar on a square stone base remains a testament to the Incas’ knowledge and skill as astronomers. The name translates to the 'hitching post of the sun'. The corners point to the four cardinal points, and the stone still accurately indicates the positioning of the sun. If you happen to be watching at noon on either equinox, you’ll notice the stone’s shadow disappear for just a moment, as designed by its creators.

The Royal Tomb

This cave-like building is thought to be where sacrificial or burial rituals were performed, and there have been more than 100 skeletons excavated here. Just to the left of the tomb lies a series of ceremonial baths fed by a sophisticated aqueduct system - another reminder of the impressive masonry skill of the Incas.

Climb Huayna Picchu

You can climb Huayna Picchu, the witch’s hat of a mountain that stands guard behind Machu Picchu, as long as you book it well in advance as part of your admission ticket. Your ticket will show your allocated time slot to start the walk, and it takes about an hour to reach the top.

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