Last weekend, I took a trip to one of the most desirable destinations in the world, and one that I’ve always wanted to visit — Machu Picchu.   It was my 4th New Wonder of the World, and it surely did not disappoint.

I started the journey by taking a train directly from the Incan village of Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes (the town adjacent to Machu Picchu itself). There are a few train companies that offer the 2-3 hour service, and I went with Inca Rail.  They were a very professional and efficient company – it felt like I was taking a train in Europe! I recommend taking them on your journey to Machu Picchu.

*Travel tip – Book your train ticket AND entry ticket to Machu Picchu a few weeks in advance.  Especially during peak season, they sell out quickly!

Once we arrived in Aguas Calientes, we checked into our lovely Sumaq Hotel who accommodated us for 2 nights. If you are looking for a very nice and comfortable hotel to stay when you visit Machu, then I recommend giving them a look. It’s a bit pricey, but well worth it for the luxury experience.  Their 5 star restaurant is fantastic as well — my favorite meals in Peru were from their kitchen!

The very next morning, our alarms rang at 3:30 am, to make sure we had enough time to beat the tourists and catch the sunrise at Machu. I thought we woke up early enough, but there was already a line of 500+ people wrapped around the town to take the earliest buses to the famous mountain.  Thankfully, we only waited for about an hour or so before taking the 20 minute ride through the landscape and to the foothills of Machu.

*Side note –– you can do a one day trek from Aguas Calientes, or a 4 day trek from Ollantaytambo, but we didn’t have the time.  If I were you, I would at least do the one day!

As we were driving, I was amazed by how hidden Machu Picchu is in the midst of the Andes mountains. Due to the steep mountain ranges in every direction, it was impossible to know when we were going to reach Machu.  And that’s exactly the reason why the Spanish invaders never found out about it (there is no evidence that they conquered the land).   They likely would have likely destroyed Machu Picchu if they found it, much like they destroyed many other Incan territories.

*Traveler’s Tip – Once you arrive at Machu, use the bathroom BEFORE entering– as there are no bathrooms inside the citadel. This was a life saver for me.

From the first moment I laid eyes on Machu Picchu, I was in awe. I had the same butterflies in my stomach that I had when I saw the Taj Mahal, The Great Wall of China and The Pyramids of Giza.   No words can describe what I was witnessing in front of my very own eyes.

The Incas built Machu Picchu in the 15th century, by carrying 50ton stones up the steep cliffs and carving them into buildings, temples, baths and terraces. How on earth did they do this? I have no idea… it was mind-boggling to try to figure out.

We spent about 3 hours walking around the mountain (it’s rather small), up and down the terraces and through the stone-carved buildings. I could have easily spent 10 hours there, but all of the tourists really started to annoy me, so I had to leave.

If you are planning a trip to South America, you must stop at this world wonder and see it with your own eyes. I can’t wait to get back there sometime in the near future.

Have you been to Machu Picchu? What was your experience like?

Drew Binsky

A graduate from The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Drew Binsky has visited 190+ Countries since 2012.He first caught the travel bug while studying abroad in Prague, then taught English in Korea, and now he's on a mission to visit every country on earth.Follow his journey on YouTube & Instagram @drewbinsky 🙂

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