Weekend Excursion to Cusco & MachuPicchu
A major appeal for tourists looking to travel to Peru is by far the beautiful ruins of Machu Picchu. It was built around the year 1460, but abandoned as an official site for the Inca rulers a hundred years later, at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. Although it was known locally, it was said to have been forgotten for centuries when the site was brought to worldwide attention in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, an American historian. Since that time, Machu Picchu has become an important tourist attraction. Visiting these ruins first requires flying to Cusco from Lima. Although there are buses that travel to Cusco from Lima, many prefer to fly as flights leave frequently throughout the day and are available at reasonable costs. LAN PERU is the most common airline with flights leaving about once an hour from Cusco to Lima. Check out the following website to see about flight and rate availability. www.lan.com
Once in Cusco there is much to visit before heading off to the majestic ruins. The plaza de Armas in the midst of the city of Cusco is beautiful with two cathedrals hovering over the square and the grand mountains conquering overhead. The ancient Incan culture can be seen in the daily lives of the people who live here. With local markets, nearby ruins and customs dating back hundreds of years, Cusco is a must see destination while visiting Peru.
Cusco is home to many tour agencies offering treks such as the Salkantay, the Inca Trail and the Ausangate all leading to the ruins of Machu Picchu. Check out Dos Manos Travel Agency that offers an array of options for those looking to hike to Machu Picchu. www.dosmanosperu.com
By far the simplest method of getting to Aguas Calientes is to buy a round-trip train ticket from Cusco. Peru Rail currently offer only 2 departures a day to Machu Picchu from the station in Cusco. One of these departures is on the Vistadome service and one departure on the Backpacker service.
If you are looking to make a weekend excursion out of your visit to Cusco and to Machu Picchu, look to fly out early on Friday. Flights from Lima are only about an hour. Once in Cusco you can spend the day parading around the city, gazing at some of the local ruins and tasting some of the delicious local cuisine. Hop onto a train on Saturday morning to Aquas Caliente where buses can then take you up to the exquisite Machu Picchu. After spending a day touring the ruins, return back to Aquas Caliente where you can soak in the hot baths and take part in some souvenir shopping. There are bright and colourful tapestries, alpaca goods, and lovely jewellery to tempt all tastes. From there, trains will take you back into Cusco where you can enjoy some of the local nightlife, discos and happening bars to relax after a long day. Plan on staying in Cusco for the night on Saturday. There are loads of hostels and nearby hotels at reasonable prices. If you are travelling in off season you will have no problem booking a hotel room at last minute. However, to be better prepared, it is always good to investigate a bit beforehand. Hop on your return flight to Lima on Sunday with a whole new perspective not only on your travels, but on life. Machu Picchu, one of the wonders of the world, is a must-see while in Peru and will open you up to the scope of the imagination and to the endless possibilities that lay before you on your journey.