Ollantayambo ruins are steep with about 100 stone steps to the top of the fortress at an altitude of 9,100 feet. Train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes is about 1.5 hours. Bus drive from Aguas Calientes Town to the Machu Picchu ruins is about 4 miles; approx. ½ hour. Walking and standing for at least 5 hours; dirt and grass terrain; many staircases; sloping, paved sidewalks in town. We recommend wearing or bringing a long-sleeved shirt for insect protection.
Early breakfast at hotel.
We’ll transfer to the Ollantaytambo ruins, where we’ll learn about the engineering genius of the Inca demonstrated by the extensive terracing and irrigation at the site. Running water still flows through the town in aqueducts. The Inca emperor Pachacuti built Ollantaytambo in the 15th century as part of his royal estate. In the mid-15th century after Pachacuti’s death, the Spanish conquest of Peru began. The Inca emperor at that time was Manco Inca who used Ollantaytambo as a stronghold against the Spanish. His army won a small victory nearby against Spanish forces. Though, shortly afterwards Manco Inca decided the site was not secure enough and fled with the remaining members of his empire to Vilcabamba where the Inca famously made their last stand against the Spanish. After our field trip, we’ll transfer to Ollantaytambo train station where we will board a train to Aguas Calientes Station on our way to Machu Picchu. This scenic journey by rail follows the meandering path of the Urubamba River and provides travelers with spectacular views of the snowcapped Andes. Disembarking at the Aguas Calientes Station (6,693 feet elevation), we’ll transfer to our hotel and check in. After completing check-in procedures, we'll set out on foot - an approximately 5 minute walk - to the bus depot. There, we will board a bus that will take us up the mountain to the Machu Picchu ruins.
At a local restaurant outside of the ruins, we’ll have a buffet lunch.
After lunch, we will enter the site and spend the afternoon exploring in and around the Machu Picchu ruins with a local expert. Following our guided visit, there will be time for independent exploration. Hiram Bingham, a Yale graduate and former U.S. senator fascinated with Inca archaeology, is credited with discovering this lost site in 1911. Though, accounts have stated that locals knew about the site for some time before Bingham. this ancient and incredible Inca city was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham, a Yale graduate and former U.S. senator fascinated with Inca archaeology. Bingham actually found Machu Picchu, with the help of one of these locals, a farmer who knew about the ruins, while he was searching for Vilcabamba and Vitcos. Bingham hypothesized that the site was a “citadel” existing for strategic and defense purposes. He also speculated that the site was a refuge for Cusco's Virgins of the Sun, based upon the finding of skulls there, although not scientifically classified as female. Breakthroughs in archaeology since 1985 have, taken as a whole, supported the emerging view of Machu Picchu as a royal estate. Archaeologists believe the site was built around 1450-1460 at the orders of Inca ruler Pachacutec Inca Yupanqui. It is estimated that the ruler lived here with more than 750 laborers, servants, family and relatives and priests. built for ceremonial and administrative center for a very populous region. Machu Picchu was built, flourished, and fell into demise within a period of 100 years. The reason for its disuse remains largely a mystery, although archaeologists speculate it may have had to do with the Spanish conquest. Transfer back to Aguas Calientes for dinner.
At the hotel, we’ll have a plated 3-course meal with a non-alcoholic beverage included.
At leisure. Prepare for check out and transfer tomorrow morning.