This full-color guide to Machu Picchu includes vibrant photos and helpful planning maps.
Dawn reveals ancient stonework backed by the towering Andesthe fusion of natural and manmade beauty, built in perfect harmony with the earth and skies. This is Machu Picchu, center of the lost Inca empire. And it's yours to explore.
This is the trip of a lifetime. It will leave you with a new sense of wonderand some great stories to share. In this book, expert traveler Ben Westwood tells you everything you need to know to make this trip possible:
How to choose guides, tours, and means of transportation
How to plan a trek in the Andesincluding deciding which of the Inca trails is right for you
How to get there, how long it will take, and where to stop along the wayincluding information on Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and stopping over in Lima
About the Author
Ben Westwood started dreaming of being a writer and musician at an early age. Growing up in England, he pursued both of his passions by studying music at Westminster University and working as a journalist at national newspaper The Independent.
After graduating, Ben decided to follow his passion for travel. With an English-language teaching qualification under his belt, he set off for South America in 1998, traveling through Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru. In Peru, he hiked the Inca Trail and fell in love with Machu Picchu; he still considers it one of the most awe-inspiring places he has ever visited. After returning to the UK to study at the country's top journalism school, City University, Ben worked for five years at The Daily Telegraph as a travel journalist and online travel editor. He wrote articles on everything from encounters with Maoist guerrillas in Nepal to encounters with drunken Brits in Greece.
After a brief stint working in adventure tourism, Ben moved to South America with his wife and children in 2007 to write guidebooks and teach at UEES, one of Ecuador's best universities. Since then, he has authored Moon Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands and Moon Galápagos Islands, and has contributed to The Rough Guide to South America on a Budget. He also freelances for British newspapers, including The Guardian, The Independent, and The Daily Telegraph.
Ben now divides his time between Britain and South America. When he's not writing or teaching, he's usually playing music and has released one self-funded album, Keep Dreaming.
Read an Excerpt
The Best of Machu Picchu
This classic loop starts off in the lush surroundings of the Sacred Valley, where you will explore ruins, experience indigenous culture, and adjust to the altitude. Then you take the train to enjoy the cloud forests and magnificent stonework of Machu Picchu. At the end of the trip, there are two days to take in Cusco, the Spanish Renaissance city built atop Inca foundations. There is much to do and see in this colonial townmuseums, art galleries, weaving stores, Inca ruins, Spanish architecture, nightclubs, volunteer opportunities, and language schoolsso reserving extra time to explore Cusco’s nooks and crannies is advisable.
Begin by flying into Lima, the capital of Peru. Most planes arrive here at night, so you’ll have the choice of either staying at a Lima hotel or hanging out at the airport for an early morning flight to Cusco. Arrange with your hotel ahead of time for transport from Cusco to Pisac, a well-preserved Inca village in the Sacred Valley.
On day 2 settle in and explore your surroundings. In Pisac, see the Inca ruins, which include a sun temple and fortress complex. Then hike down the mountain back into town to take in the market and dine in the main square.
Now that you understand your immediate surroundings, head out and explore farther afield. An excellent option is to explore the weaving village of Chinchero before hiking or mountain biking from the enigmatic circular Inca terraces at Moray to the crystallized salt mines at Salineras. Descend to the Sacred Valley for transport to Ollantaytambo, which has plenty of good restaurants for dinner.
In Ollantaytambo, explore the ruins in the early morning to beat the rush. Head first to the sun temple above town. It’s a great place to understand the layout of both Ollantaytambo and the Sacred Valley, and you can see where the Inca and Spanish battled for control. In the late afternoon, catch a train to Aguas Calientes and stay overnight.
Take an early-morning shuttle bus to Machu Picchu. Wander around the ruins in the morning before the crowds arrive. Then head off mid-morning to climb the nearby peak of Huayna Picchu and explore the Temple of the Moon. Alternatively, walk to the Inca bridge or up to Inti Punku, the Sun Gate. In the afternoon, return to Aguas Calientes for a late lunch and a mug of coca tea. Then board the train to Ollantaytambo and board a comfortable tourist bus back to Cusco.
Now that you’re used to Cusco’s altitude of 3,400 meters (11,150 feet), you can walk this city’s cobblestone streets all day long. Start with a morning walk through the neighborhood of San Blas and see the Inca sun temple or Coricancha. Save the afternoon for visiting other museums and art galleries.
Today you choose between shopping, exploring more museums and churches in Cusco, or taking a walk above town from the ruins of Q’enqo and Sacsayhuamán, the Inca fortress overlooking Cusco.
Fly from Cusco to Lima early in the morning. Since most planes depart for North America around midnight, you’ll have a day in Lima to explore. Start in central Lima to see the Catedral de Lima, Palacio Arzobispal de Lima, Palacio del Gobierno, and the catacombs at Santo Domingo. If you’re hungry and want to shop, skip downtown Lima and head straight to the swanky neighborhood of Miraflores for a cebiche lunch overlooking the Pacific Ocean and an interesting variety of museums, shops, and art galleries. In the evening, head back to the airport for the flight home.