Almost a century after its archaeological discovery and thanks to recent studies of sixteenth century archival documents, there are good arguments to suppose that the citadel of Machu Picchu was - like the pyramids of the pharaohs in Egypt or the tomb of the emperor Qin Shi Huang in China - the luxurious and well cared for mausoleum of the Inca Pachakuteq, founder and first emperor of Tawantinsuyo.
No one doubts that it is a sanctuary of superior social position built in a privileged place seven or eight days' journey on foot from the city of Cuzco. In Machu Picchu there are remains of buildings that were covered with gold, presumably with fantasy gardens, idols and offerings like those of the temple of Korikancha in Cuzco.
There are also other temples and palaces still remaining, all adjacent and carefully constructed, crossed by a network of fine fountains of water carved into the rock, altars, cosmic observatories and multiple spaces for the cult of the dead; from them, on many days of the year, can be enjoyed the spectacle of rainbows which are born and die right in front of one's eyes. Machu Picchu is located some 112 km by railroad north of the city of Cuzco, at an altitude of 2360 m above sea level; that is, about 1000 m below Cuzco, which is at 3408 m altitude.
The place was known as Picchu, Piccho, or Picho during colonial times and consisted of two parts: Machu ("old") and Wayna ("young"). Picchu means "hill", "mountain" or "peak" and therefore the name is simply descriptive. It could well have been Patallaqta ("town on the heights"), which was the "town" or the "house" where the mummy of Pachakuteq was kept. In the citadel of Machu Picchu few people lived - probably no more than 200 or 300 - and, if what we suspect is true, all of them were of high rank and were linked to the lineage of the Inca, that is, they were descendents of the founder of Tawantinsuyo.
According to traditions collected by the Spanish, Machu Picchu must have been built under the direction of Pachakuteq. The sequence of the process of its construction is not known, but it seems to have the been the work of a single project tantamount to a sanctuary or "urbanization" where the spaces, levels and forms were previously established, even if during the course of its existence entrances were corrected or chambers added. The sanctuary of Machu Picchu is divided into two large sectors - one the agricultural sector and the other the urban or the citadel - of which the first surrounds the second. We could consider the peak Wayna Picchu as a third sector.
The principal road to approach Machu Picchu, which comes from Cusco through the south (Qosqoñan), crosses the crest of the mountain and goes to the entrance to the sanctuary after passing through areas with isolated constructions - such as what is now called the watchtower - posts for lookouts or guards, qolqa or granaries and abundant agricultural terraces. There were also other roads, such as that which made the river accessible from the sanctuary on the northeast. At present a road has been constructed for tourist visits, a road which did not exist before and now runs parallel to the Qosqoñan.
Note: You can choose to return to Cusco on Day 3, but we highly recommend to stay overnight in Aguas Calientes and return to Cusco on the following day - giving you more time to explore Machu Picchu and the surrounding area.
(B)=Breakfast ; (L)=Lunch ; (D)=Dinner
DAY 01 : Cusco
Arrival and Transfer to Hotel.
14:00 CITY TOUR + 04 "RESTOS ARQUEOLOGICOS"
Guided visit to the City's CATHEDRAL with magnificent colonial art and the Santo Domingo Church - KORIKANCHA which displays the best Inca stonework in Cusco, and 04 Archeological Ruins near the city: Indian sanctuary of SACSAYHUAMAN, The amphitheatre of Q’ENQO, the fortress of PUKA PUKARA and the spring-shrine of TAMBOMACHAY.
DAY 02 : Cusco. (b - l) THE SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS
09:00 Guided visit to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, begining in PISAQ, lunch buffet at URUBAMBA, then we continue to the Fortress of OLLANTAYTAMBO and finish visiting the Market and Church of CHINCHEROS
DAY 03 : Cusco. (b) MACHUPICCHU
07:00 Transfer to the Train Station in order to take the train to Aguas Calientes Station. There we take a special Bus to MACHUPICCHU.
FULL DAY MACHUPICCHU GUIDED VISIT.
17:00 Back to Aguas Calientes, then Cusco by train
21:00 In Cusco, transfer from the train station to the Hotel.
DAY 04 : Cusco. (b)
Transfer to Airport or Train Station.