Machu Picchu


From Andrew Harper

Cradled by jungle-covered mountains at an altitude of 7,900 feet, Machu Picchu is a labyrinth of mysterious gray stones; the surrounding rock spires seem to form a  kind of gigantic natural cathedral. The fabled “Lost City of the Incas” was unknown to the  outside world until Yale professor Hiram Bingham brought it to global attention in 1911. The  Incas built this extraordinary sanctuary — its precise function is still in dispute — in the  mid-1400s, but abandoned it almost a century later. Untouched by the Spanish conquistadors,  Machu Picchu survived intact for centuries, hidden by dense vegetation. 

Machu Picchu can be reached in a civilized manner via the Hiram Bingham train  owned by Belmond (formerly Orient-Express) and operated by PeruRail. Named in honor of  the American explorer and Yale professor, the evocative train consists of two dining cars,  a bar car and sumptuously appointed blue-and-gold observation carriages seating up to 84  passengers. The 100-minute ride ends at Aguas Calientes, where passengers board a waiting  bus for the final 30-minute leg up a switchback to Machu Picchu. 


All recommended hotels in Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge
Belmond Sanctuary Lodge

Ideally situated, this 31-room lodge is the only hotel adjacent to the ruins, a location that grants privileged access.