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3-day Machu Picchu express

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Published: 14-03-2023

Throughout the years, academics, researchers, and tourists from around the world have expanded the general interest of Machu Picchu. Its prestige relates not just to its splendidly preserved architectural remains by also to the stunning nature of its location. Also, frankly, there is a strong, magic, and religious feeling around Machu Picchu. Exactly for these reasons, Machu Picchu is a Bucket -list item for many travelers, but sometimes we have a short timescale and have to visit in a hurry. Check out this 3-day Machu Picchu express itinerary for the perfect introduction to the Land of the Incas and its most important citadel, Machu Picchu!


Cloudy Machu Picchu




One of the most convenient and affordable ways to visit Machu Picchu is to organize a transfer service via a travel agency in Cusco. You can reserve online and you can browse through all the offers by different agencies and pick the best one for you. Most will include a city tour of Cusco on the first day. The reason most travelers end up in the historic, mountainous city is that they need a few days to acclimatize to the incredibly high altitude (about 3,400 meters!) before setting off on their multi-day treks. What they may not realize is how much the city has to offer tourists, regardless of their budget.


La Compañia de Jesus, Cusco


The historical capital of the Inca Empire is rich in history and culture, and there are plenty of opportunities to explore Inca ruins, eat delicious food, or shop for colorful textiles around town. Cusco is home to some of the world’s most iconic archaeological sites, such as Sacsayhuaman, Q’oricancha, and Machu Picchu. These ruins are a must-see for any history lover, and they offer a glimpse into the fascinating culture of the Incas. Cusco is located in the Andes Mountains, which means that it is surrounded by some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world.


San Blas Street, Cusco


Whether you plan to in the nearby mountains or simply explore the city, you’ll be sure to be impressed by the natural beauty of Cusco. The main square in Cusco, Plaza de Armas is a lively and vibrant place to spend an afternoon. The square is surrounded by colonial-era buildings, including the Cathedral of Cusco, which was built in the 16th century. There are also plenty of restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy a bite to eat or people-watch.


Plaza de Armas, Cusco


Machu Picchu


Today we will take a drive through the stunning Sacred Valley of The Incas to the town of Ollantaytambo, where you will board the train to Aguas Calientes. This is the starting point for the Machu Picchu visit that most people take and a visit to Machu Picchu inevitably means a visit to Aguas Calientes at some point! This 3-day Machu Picchu Express tour will take you by bus up to the iconic archaeological site for an afternoon visit to Machu Picchu. The main advantage of the Machu Picchu visit in the afternoon is that there are much fewer people visiting so you can completely appreciate this magnificent Inca site with fewer people. 


Empty Machu Picchu


This modern wonder of the world is one of the highlights of visiting Peru with over 1 million tourists coming every year, and for good reason. It’s staggeringly beautiful, steeped in history, and is one of the best-preserved archeological sites from the Incan empire. It’s situated on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley of the Incas and is surrounded by lush vegetation and stunning views. Machu Picchu is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and is located in the Urubamba region of the Cusco Province. It was built on a ridge between two peaks: Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu. The ancient city of Machu Picchu has an elevation of 2,430 meters (7,970 feet) and consists of more than 150 buildings. These include temples, palaces, baths, storage rooms, and residential houses. It’s the most well-known and best-preserved example of Inca architecture in Peru. It’s no surprise it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 


Entrance Door in Machu Picchu


Main Features


When visiting the site, you will notice that the structures are built with dry stone walls in classical Inca style covering an area that consists of approximately 8sq km. Many of the buildings at Machu Picchu have been reconstructed using the original elements and dry Ashlar masonry techniques used by the original Inca builders. This technique called for precisely positioning oddly-shaped stones together like pieces from a jigsaw puzzle, with no mortar. As you’ll see when you visit, there are no spaces between the stones.  The windows and doors have a unique trapezoidal outline that enhanced stability in this notoriously seismic region. In total, the complex consists of approximately 200 buildings, each with its specific purpose. Among the houses and smaller outbuildings, larger warehouses, and intriguing bathhouses, three major structures stand out. These are the Temple of the Sun (Torreon), the Intihuatana, and the Room of the Three Windows. Of these, the Torreon is perhaps the most impressive; it is an immense structure that may have doubled as an observatory. All three of the main structures on the mountain were dedicated to the sun god Inti. The site’s urban section is divided into an upper town and a lower town. As you may have guessed, the temples are located in the upper town. A massive square divides the ceremonial portion of the old citadel from the residential portion. The lower town was used for more mundane purposes; for example, you’ll find the remnants of warehouses there, along with simpler houses that were probably occupied by lower-class people. The entire site features massive terraces on which compounds were built. Stone stairways lead from one level to the next. In total, there are more than 3,000 stairs connecting the terraces to one another, and it’s easy to imagine ancient people going about their day-to-day business as you explore Machu Picchu.


Sun Temple, Machu Picchu




The first thing you should know about Machu Picchu is that it was built by the Incas, who were the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. They had a huge empire that stretched from Ecuador to Chile, and Machu Picchu was one of the many strongholds that they built. Incredibly, this pre-Columbian site is nearly intact, providing archaeologists with important clues about the people who lived there. Material and skeletal remains suggest that the massive fortress and its surrounding features were built as a royal retreat for Incan emperor Pachacuti, who lived between 1438 and 1472. Tupac Inca Yupanqui, who ruled between 1472-1493, is believed to have contributed to the site as well. Construction probably began around 1450. Evidence suggests that the royal estate was inhabited for just about 80 years before being abandoned – far shorter than many other Incan historic sites. While the mountainous retreat was never discovered by the Spanish conquistadors, historians theorize that abandonment occurred because of the conquests taking place in other parts of the Incan empire, or perhaps due to smallpox epidemics that occurred around the same time. Even though the site is close to Cusco Peru, the Spanish never found it as its location was somewhat difficult to get to and was a carefully guarded secret. The steep mountains that surround the royal compound, its town, and the terraced gardens were the ideal camouflage, serving as a natural fortress that prevented potential invaders from viewing the community from a distance.


Cusco Street


Find out more about this whistlestop 3-day Machu Picchu Express Tour here!