Machu Picchu Mountain – June 10th, 2016
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu
Why This Mountain?
Machu Picchu Mountain was a last minute addition to the 52 Peaks adventure. In 2015, TJ Hiker led a group (including Tami) to the sacred site via the 4 day Inca Trail through the Andes mountains. The 2015 group hiked Wayna Picchu but did not have a chance to hike the longer Machu Picchu Mountain. This year we were able to get tickets and will hike the mountain after arriving on the Inca Trail through the Sun Gate. Machu Picchu is also a TJ Hiker event that happens each year in May-June and will happen again in 2017. Read and view the great pictures and sign up to join TJ in 2017.
Mountain & Route Facts
Machu Picchu Mountain is a mountain in Peru around which the Urubamba River bends. It is located in the Cusco Region, Urubamba Province, Machupicchu District. It rises over Machu Picchu, the so-called lost city of the Incas. The peak of Machu Picchu is about 3,082 metres (10,111 ft) above sea level.
The mountain trek offers unparalleled views of the famous Inca sanctuary and panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountain scenery. At its summit Inca priests once performed rituals on special dates as well as liturgical greetings to the Salkantay Apu.
The route to Machu Picchu will be the 4 day Inca Trail. Located in the Andes mountain range, the trail passes through several types of Andean environments including cloud forest and alpine tundra. Settlements, tunnels, and many Incan ruins are located along the trail before ending the terminus at the Sun Gate on Machu Picchu mountain.
The Machu Picchu Mountain trek is considered to be a moderate to challenging trek. Unlike Huayna Picchu or Putucusi Mountain treks, the Machu Picchu Mountain trek is wide and well-marked. After the wardens hut the trail follows a fairly even ascent of about 30 – 35 degrees in angle for about 1 hour. Gradually and steadily gaining altitude, the views of Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains become ever-more impressive. There are several view and rest points along the way. As the trail gets closer to the base of Machu Picchu Mountain, the steps become steeper, narrower and more challenging. Winding on for another 30 minutes or so, the trail passes through a stone gateway, before following a narrow mountain ridge to the summit. A small round hut provides shelter and seating, whilst the view point (a few more yards on) offers aw-inspiring views of Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu and Putucusi Mountains. The decent follows the same route, but takes about 20 – 30 minutes less
Historical and Cultural Information
Tucked away in the rocky countryside northwest of Cuzco, Peru, Machu Picchu is believed to have been a royal estate or sacred religious site for Inca leaders, whose civilization was virtually wiped out by Spanish invaders in the 16th century. For hundreds of years, until the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham stumbled upon it in 1911, the abandoned citadel’s existence was a secret known only to peasants living in the region. The site stretches over an impressive 5-mile distance, featuring more than 3,000 stone steps that link its many different levels. Because the site was never discovered by the Spainards, it is believed to be one of the only true historical representations of the once mighty Incan Empire.
Historians believe Machu Picchu was built at the height of the Inca Empire, which dominated western South America in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was abandoned an estimated 100 years after its construction, probably around the time the Spanish began their conquest of the mighty pre-Columbian civilization in the 1530s. There is no evidence that the conquistadors ever attacked or even reached the mountaintop citadel, however; for this reason, some have suggested that the residents’ desertion occurred because of a smallpox epidemic.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983 and designated one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, Machu Picchu is Peru’s most visited attraction and South America’s most famous ruins, welcoming hundreds of thousands of people a year.