Of all the jaw-dropping places to visit around the globe, few are as sought-after as Machu Picchu—the ancient but breathtaking ruins uncovered in the Peruvian jungle in 1911. The site is located in the Cuzco region of southern Peru and dates back to the 15th century.

Machu Picchu is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. A visit to this site will delight any traveller, providing fantastic photo opportunities and once-in-a-lifetime views.

What Is Machu Picchu?

There’s no way to know for sure what the ruins at Machu Picchu were when they were first built and used. Most historians believe that the Incans used the rocky steps and stone rooms as a royal estate or a sacred religious site for tribe leaders. The Incas lived in southern Peru until diseases brought by Spanish invaders in the 1500s wiped out their civilization. Nestled in a green mountainside in the jungle, Machu Picchu stretches over five miles and includes 3,000 stone steps between its various tiers.

How Do I Get There?

There are several different ways to access Machu Picchu after arriving in Peru. For the adventurous, there are two- and four-day hikes that will take you right to the site. This allows you to experience the site the way the early explorers did, coming across it in the jungle. Alternatively, you can go by train using one of two rail lines: the Inca Rail and the Peru Rail.

What Is There to Do at Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu is among the most unique sites in the world. Simply wandering around through the stone ruins is a fascinating experience in and of itself. The ruins are a stunning place to watch the sunrise or sunset. You can also visit the Temples of the Sun and Moon and discover the place where ancient people once stood. There are also hikes and trails available, including the best-known: Huayna Picchu, a lush mountain that stands over Machu Picchu. The hike takes about two hours, and you have to book it in advance.

Photo: nicolamargaret via gettyimages.com

What’s the Best Way to Visit?

Machu Picchu is one of the most popular tourist destinations globally and is frequently crowded, especially from June through August. As many as 5,000 people visit the site in a day during the peak months. To avoid the bulk of the crowd, consider staying in one of the smaller towns closer to the site—like Ollantaytambo or Aguas Calientes—rather than the larger Cuzco. Thousands of people take the train to see Machu Picchu from Cuzco.

Know Before You Go

Because of the site’s popularity, new rules are in place to keep crowds to a minimum and preserve the beauty of the ancient ruins. Entrance tickets are divided into two time slots: 6 a.m. to midday and midday to 5:30 p.m. You’ll have to pay the entrance fee twice if you want to stay for the entire day. Additionally, a guide must accompany all visitors to the site. Guides provide a two-hour-long tour along a given route, with time to explore on your own after. Bring your own water and sunscreen, rain gear, and sturdy walking shoes. For tourists coming from outside Peru or the neighbouring countries of Colombia, Bolivia, and Ecuador, tickets range in price from $35 to $78, depending on age and what attractions to plan to see.

It may require a fair bit of work to get to Machu Picchu, but your efforts will be rewarded at this one-of-a-kind ancient site situated in Peru’s jungle.