The incredible ruins of Machu Picchu are among the world's top tourist attractions, and for good reasons. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the vast complex is surrounded by incredible views of tall peaks and mountains. And with a fascinating history behind it, it's no surprise that the ancient Inca settlement is on the bucket list of many adventurers. If you are a family who loves adventures and looking for ideas on your next quest, consider visiting Machu Picchu. Need more convincing? Below, check out the five reasons to visit Machu Picchu with the family.
The Fascinating History
One of the reasons to visit Machu Picchu is its fascinating history. It dates back to the 15th century, built during the Inca Empire, the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. Also called the "Lost City of the Incas," it was abandoned a hundred years after its construction due to the Spanish conquest in the 1530s. In 1911, American historian Hiram Bingham rediscovered the ancient citadel, guided by local farmers. They named it "Machu Picchu," which means "old mountain" in the native Quechua language.
Nowadays, Machu Picchu is one of the world's most significant heritage sites. On your visit, you and your kids will learn more about its incredible history, including that of the Incan Empire, from its rise until their fall.
Despite various speculations, Machu Picchu's actual function remains a mystery. Some say it serves as a university, while others as a retreat place of the Incan royalty. However, the most common theory is it was an estate for the Inca Pachacutec, the founder and first emperor of the Inca Empire. Given Machu Picchu's long and rich history, you will surely enjoy exploring this famous attraction, especially if you're a family who loves ancient history.
To Unwind in Nature
Surrounded by lush forests, millions of visitors would trek to Machu Picchu each year to unwind and reconnect with nature. It occupies an area of over 30 thousand hectares, where you will find varied flora and fauna, including wooded areas, snow-capped peaks and steep mountains.
Thanks to Machu Picchu's location in the Andes mountains and the Peruvian Amazon, several species have thrived in the area. It occupies over 30 thousand hectares of wooded areas and snow-capped mountains, with the Urubamba River crossing from east to west. Aside from the various tree species, you will also find colorful orchids that make for an even more fascinating experience.
You can also expect to see incredible wildlife during your visit, such as the white-tailed deer, Andean fox, and spectacled bear. Of course, the cute llamas will be the highlight. In addition, the area is also home to over 400 species of birds, which makes it an ideal spot for avid birders.
Rising over 2,000 meters above sea level, the views above Machu Picchu will surely blow you away. The citadel sits between two mountains, Huauna Picchu and Machu. It is covered in a lush forest, making the views look more breathtaking. You will also see the Urubamba River Valley from above, with the steep and dramatic mountains of the Cordillera del Vilcanota.
The hike to Machu Picchu is full of breathtaking scenery, a favorite of avid photographers. There are many stunning viewpoints along the way, with many incredible scenes waiting for you to capture. You will enjoy taking photos from different angles and unique perspectives. In addition, you will come across cute llamas during your trek. These creatures are very photogenic, and with Machu Picchu on their background, you will have photos that are sure to induce envy in your Instagram followers.
The sense of adventure will be greater if you hike through the Inca Trail. The popular trail is famous worldwide and is on the bucket list of many avid explorers. Hundreds of tourists would walk the trail each year, so it has become necessary to book months in advance. Your hike will take you through the abandoned ruins of the Incan citadel, surrounded by breathtaking natural landscapes, guaranteed to leave you and your kids with memories to treasure for the rest of your lives.
To See the Architecture
One of Machu Picchu's remarkable aspects is the precision of its architecture and how the stones are cut and fit together. Its construction is considered one of the world's most monumental feats of architecture and engineering, requiring innovative techniques ahead of the Inca's time. You will learn more about these during your visit.
The Incas integrated numerous construction methods to construct the magnificent structures that makeup Machu Picchu. They merely relied on local materials and their knowledge of the natural environment to build such a fascinating site. The Incas implement a technique known as "ashlar masonry," which involves cutting and shaping individual stones and fitting them together perfectly without using mortar.
Aside from the ashlar masonry, the Incas have implemented other techniques in building the Machu Picchu. They employed terracing to make good use of the steep slopes of the mountains, creating flat platforms for building and farming. Another technique used is cyclopean masonry, which fits large stones of irregular shapes to construct walls and buildings.
To Ride the Machu Picchu Train
The train ride to Machu Picchu is one of the world's most scenic train rides, and that's one of the reasons to visit the Inca citadel on your next family adventure. While some people will choose to trek, others will prefer a comfortable train journey to Machu Picchu, best suited for families with little kids.
The ride starts in the colonial city of Cusco, operated by Inca Rail and PeruRail. It transports hundreds of visitors to Machu Picchu daily, passing through a narrow gorge before dropping to the Sacred Valley. The scenery changes dramatically, and witnessing the Andes transform into a lush cloud forest is a fascinating experience.
The last stop of the train is Aguas Calientes. To get to Machu Picchu, visitors have to take a bus ride for about 25 minutes to reach the mountain.