Exploring Peru’s Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu was not originally a sacred temple but a retreat where the 15th-century Incan emperor Pachacuti could get away from the harum-scarum capital, Cuzco. Five hundred years later, you’ll want to do the same – at least for a few days. Rather than join the hordes slogging the multiday Inca trail, head straight to a lodge near the ruins to relax in Incan opulence. The three-hour train ride from Cuzco steams along twisting rivers, jungle ruins, and Andean cliffs blanketed in numerous shades of green, depositing you at Machu Picchu, where you’ll base yourself at the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. Spend the first few hours exploring the hotel’s private nature reserve, which houses rare orchids and the endangered Andean spectacled bear. Don’t head over to the ancient rocks until day’s end, when the other tourists have retreated to their hotels and the last hints of sun paint the stone walls and surrounding peaks in sharp shades of yellow and purple. The next morning, hotel guides will lead you up Putukusi Mountain, 1,600 feet above Machu Picchu, to gaze below as the rising sun burns away the morning mists.
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