5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Machu Picchu
Edited by: Karen Hidalgo Photos by: Shannon Mynheir
For most of us, money is tight these days which means that travel is often put on the backburner. It’s easy to say things like “I’ll do it next year” or “maybe another time.” However, after visiting Machu Picchu this summer, here are my reasons as to why you should visit Machu Picchu.
1. It Is One of The New Seven Wonders of The World:
Machu Picchu stands alongside six other famous man-made creations like the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Created by the Incans during the peak of their empire, Machu Picchu sits on top of its own mountain. The term Machu Picchu means “Old Mountain” in Quechua, the Incan language. This massive man-made structure scales both the sides of the mountain as well as covering the top portion. You have to see it to believe just how big it is. It was originally used as a temple for the Incan Empire which was why it was located near Cusco, the Incan capital.
2. You’ll Gain Knowledge of a Different Culture:
Peruvian culture is known for their seafood and Incan influences. You will be able to try Ceviche from its birth place or eat the ever famous Cuy or guinea pig. In addition to eating the delicious and unique Peruvian cuisine, you will inevitably encounter the Peruvian wildlife. In Cusco, you will see women walking around with llamas, alpacas, and other various. If you are lucky, they may even let you take a picture with them and pet one of the babies. You will come back with countless stories of the music, dancing, food, and views that will make you the life of the party.
3. It Has Huge Historical Significance:
The coolest part about Machu Picchu is that it is a recent discovery. Though it was built in the 15th century, it was hidden for over a hundred years from the time that the Spaniards conquered Cusco until 1911 when it was discovered and written about by Hiram Bingham. Before this discovery, only eight families which lived in Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of the mountain, knew about the existence of Machu Picchu. Now, it has become one of the must-see destinations in the world.
4. Just Getting There Is an Accomplishment Itself:
To get to Machu Picchu, you must first fly into Peru and then either take a 24-hour bus ride from Lima or fly into the Cusco airport. Once in Cusco, you have the option to take a bus to the train station and then a train to Aguas Calientes, or make the more adventurous decision of hiking. I decided to trek the Salkantay trek from Cusco to Machu Picchu. This trek was a 5-day/4-night trek that covered 36 miles and included scaling to the hiking summit of the Salkantay mountain. Salkantay means “the savage” in Quechua, and the hike lived up to its name. However, the journey to Machu Picchu ended up being just as incredible as Machu Picchu itself. I would highly suggest hiking to anyone who is physically able because the journey is one of a lifetime.
5. The Views Are Indescribable:
The moment you set foot in Cusco, you will know that you are someplace special. On the flight to Cusco, you will overlook the mountains that surround the Peruvian city, and when you land, you will be greeted with classic Peruvian music played on various piped instruments. The town itself is filled with beautiful architecture filled with Spanish influence and overflowing with historical significance. The mountain views will blow you away. If you choose to trek to Machu Picchu like I did, you will experience the just how incredible the Peruvian mountain ranges are. The treks may seem overwhelming, but the views themselves make every step worth it.
This is a once in a lifetime experience. There is nothing quite like hiking through the mountains of Peru, bathing in the hot springs of Aguas Calientes, eating Ceviche from its place of origin, or standing on the top of a mountain overlooking one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Machu Picchu is not just a place to see, it is an experience you don’t want to miss.
About the Author:
Shannon Mynheir is 22-year-old student majoring in English Literature and Spanish. In her pastime, she enjoys photography and traveling, this was her most recent trip to Machu Picchu accompanied by her mother. In the near future, she hopes to teach English as a foreign language in countries abroad. She currently resides in Florida. You can follow more Shannon’s adventures on her Instagram below.