Machu Picchu, discovered in 1911, is the most famous Inca Site is South America. As it’s such an important historical and archaeological site, there have been many discoveries about Machu Picchu. We set out on finding all the interesting facts about Machu Picchu to help you prepare before your trip to Peru. Who knows? You may end up teaching your tour guide a few things!
10 Machu Picchu History Facts
- Machu Picchu was an astronomical observatory.
There is a stone within Machu Picchu called the Intihuatana stone. At midday on exactly March 21st & September 21st, the sun stands directly over this stone creating no shadow.
- Hiram Bingham brought the site world attention.
With the support of Yale University and the National Geographical Society, Hiram “rediscovered” Machu Picchu and brought it back to popularity in 1911. It’s believed that the Germans were the first to discover it in the 1800s but did not think it was that important. The Peruvians maintain that they had known about the site long before the Germans or Americans discovered it.
- The city was never actually the “Lost City of the Incas.” When Hiram Bingham arrived at the Machu Picchu citadel, there were three farmers living on the site.
- Machu Picchu was constructed between 1450-1460.
There no real way to predict when exactly Machu Picchu was built, but archaeologists presume it was built between 1450 and 1460 with construction starting around 1438.
- Machu Picchu means “Old Peak” or “Old Mountain.”
In Quechua, the native langue of Peru, the term Machu Picchu means “Old Mountain” or “Old Peak”
- Spanish Conquistadors never conquered Machu Picchu.
There is no evidence, including letters or travel diaries, that the Spanish made it to Machu Picchu, but there are some\ assumptions that disease reached Machu Picchu from the Spanish resulting in its abandonment.
- The Inca Empire was much more widespread than Peru.
The Inca Empire encompassed Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile in addition to Peru. At its peak in 1533, the empire had more than 20 million people and did not begin to decline until after the assassination of the emperor Atahualpa in 1533.
- At the Incan Empires peak, many influential world events had not taken place.
Martin Luther had yet to be born (1483), Columbus has yet to sail the “Ocean Blue” (1492), Leonardo da Vinci has not yet painted the Mona Lisa (1503), Michaelangelo had not sculpted David (1504), and St. Peters Church in Rome has yet to have its cornerstone placed (1506).
- The official purpose of the site is unknown.
As the Incans had no written language, we cannot be sure as to the original intent of Machu Picchu. However, many theories range from a royal estate for the Incan King, a pilgrimage site, or a ceremonial site. Only nobles, priests, and “aqllas” (virgins of the sun) populated the city. There was a population of peasants who worked in the agricultural fields but did live inside the citadel.
- The famous Inca Trail was a religious path to Machu Picchu.
Many paths lead to Machu Picchu; however, the most famous today is the Inca Trail. This was thought to be a spiritual path to the citadel. After the Spanish conquistadors invaded in the 1500s, the Incan people destroyed most of the paths leading to Machu Picchu. They even destroyed the majority of the stones on the Inca Trail leading to Machu Picchu. This prevented Machu Picchu from being discovered for so many years.
10 Machu Picchu Architecture Facts
- Machu Picchu can’t fall.
Peru is known for earthquakes, and cities have been flattened due to them; however, Machu Picchu still stands. This is because the stones were put together so tightly and without mortar that when an earthquake happens, they wiggle and move, but always fall right back in place. The technique was called ashlar. The stones were cut to fit so tightly together that not even a knife can fit between the spaces. A design feature that’s not only incredible to look at but engineered to greatness.
- The wheel wasn’t used to transport the stones.
The wheel hadn’t been invented by the yet by the Incas yet, but there are thoughts they used logs to push the stones which weighed over 50 pounds each.
- There is an extensive network of water channels and conduits.
The system of water channels and conduits combined make up more than 1 kilometer. The water runs into the Machu Picchu from the mountains above.
- There are more than 150 buildings in the complex.
Machu Picchu was a massive city that had more than 150 buildings. The buildings include baths, houses, temples, and various sanctuaries.
- Most of what is seen at Machu Picchu today is original.
As a testament to the incredible masonry skill the Incans had, up to 80% of the structure still standing at Machu Picchu is original. However, restoration does continue to this day to return the complex to its original form.
- 60% of the construction is underneath the surface.
Much of the structure located underground includes the structures for buildings and the extensive rain drainage and water canals for irrigation and consumption.
- There are two different zones in Machu Picchu.
The southern part of the city was used as the agricultural area while the north side was the urban center.
- At 13 kilometers it was a relatively small city.
The city housed a little over 1000 people. Because of the number of people in such a small area, the Inca architects had to be very efficient in it’s design when factoring in agriculture, housing, spiritual sites, and housing for the noble.
- Huayna Picchu Mountain housed the high priest and the local virgins.
Huayna Picchu, which overlooked Machu Picchu citadel had the Temple of the Moon built into it. The Temple of the Moon was one of the three major temples located at Machu Picchu. It also has the Stairs of Death which is the path taking one to the top of Huayna Picchu Mountain.
- Machu Picchu was created using two different types of stone.
It is mostly made up of carved granite stones, and the rest is held together using limestone. The Inca were such master crafters that they constructed a lot of the city around immovable granite boulders and made statues out of them.
10 Machu Picchu Geography Facts
- Machu Picchu’s elevation is lower than Cusco.
A common misconception of Machu Picchu is that it’s insanely high and while it might be higher than Denver Colorado, it’s not as high in elevation as Cusco City or even Rainbow Mountain. Machu Picchu sits at 2,430 meters high (7,970 feet) above sea level. This means it is approximately 1000 meters (3,300 feet) lower than Cusco, which sits at 3600 meters (11,600 feet) above sea level.
- A grass bridge provided a secret entrance into Machu Picchu for the army.
This Incan grass rope bridge spanned the distance across the Urubamba River.
- In the Incan Times, there were only two ways in and out of Machu Picchu.
Both routes required high-altitude mountainous trekking. The first was via the secret grass bridge. The second was through the Sun Gate leading to the Inca Trail.
- It sits on two different fault lines.
This is pretty amazing when you take into account that earthquakes can’t destroy it. Cusco and Lima have both been leveled by earthquakes, but Machu Picchu stands untouched.
- There are wet and dry seasons.
The majority of the annual rainfall is between October into April. June, July, and August, the high tourism season, has little to no days of rain.
- Because of the dense cloud forest, there is still much of Machu Picchu to be discovered.
Discoveries are being made all the time at the Machu Picchu site. The thick cloud forest that overtakes the area in the morning makes it difficult for discoveries as visibility is low. A new set of terraces was discovered and opened to the public in 2011.
- The location of Macchu Picchu was significant to the Incas.
The site of Machu Picchu and its buildings was influenced by the location of the nearby holy mountains. For example, an arrow-shaped stone at the top of Huayna Picchu points directly through the Intihautana Stone to Mount Salcantay, which was one of the most important mountains in Inca cosmology.
- Machu Picchu is in the Vilcanota Mountain Range within the Sacred Valley.
The mountain range hosts Machu Picchu National Park which is a sanctuary for its species of hummingbirds, puya palm trees, ferns and over 90 types of orchids.
- It can rain pretty heavily in Peru. In January 2010 heavy rains caused flooding destroying much of the railways and roadways that lead to Machu Picchu.
As a result, more than 2,000 tourists and 2,000 locals were stranded, requiring rescue efforts.
- Machu Picchu is on a hill surrounded by three mountains and the Urubamba.
It is precisely the center of a ring of the mountains and the river.
10 Machu Picchu Traveling Facts
- Machu Picchu is not the only archaeological site in Peru.
Machu Picchu is one of the busiest places (concerning visits) in Peru; however, it’s not the only one. Peru has over 90 sites to visit.
- There are only two ways to get to Machu Picchu today.
You can get to Machu Picchu by train from Ollantaytambo or by hiking. These are the only two ways. There are no roads that lead to Aguas Calientes which is the city situated at the base of Machu Picchu.
- There are two hikes in addition to viewing Machu Picchu.
If you’re feeling like a hike, you can pay extra (in advance) to either trek Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu.
- On average 1.3 million people visit Machu Picchu yearly.
That’s right 1.3 million people go to Machu Picchu a year! That’s 25,000 a month! (after new regulation set in place end of 2017, numbers will decrease over the next few years)
- Only 2,500 tourists are allowed into Machu Picchu a day.
This changed on July 1, 2017, after a compromise between Peru and UNESCO. UNESCO had initially wanted to reduce the allotment to 900 people per day. The Machu Picchu ticket does sell out, so if you’re going to make sure you see Machu Picchu, it’s best to book your tickets well in advance.
- Don’t forget your Machu Picchu passport stamp.
At the entrance, there is a stamp for your passport with a lovely little image of Machu Picchu. This is a nice little souvenir to show all your friends that you have been to this natural wonder.
- You can follow Hiram Bingham’s original path from 1911 leading to his “discovery” of Machu Picchu.
If you choose not to take the bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu and prefer to travel by foot, you will follow the same path that Hiram Bingham took when he came to Machu Picchu.
- There are no bathrooms beyond the entrance.
Peru has done it’s best to preserve the original design and layout of Machu Picchu. That means there are no bathrooms once you get past the entrance. It will cost you two soles at the gate to use the bathroom before entering.
- There are hourly time slots for entrance to Machu Picchu.
There are hourly time slots starting at 6:00 am and ending at 2 pm. You are allowed 4 hours for your visit. But who’s keeping track?
- The Temple of the Sun, or Torreon, is one of the three important temples that visitors can see.
It has an elliptical shape similar to the sun temple located in Cusco City. Inside there is a rock which serves as an altar, and during the June Solstice, the window, sun, and altar directly align. Below the temple is a large cave, which its use is unknown.
10 Machu Picchu Fun Facts
- Machu Picchu in Peru is one of the 7 New Wonders of the World.
In 2007 Machu Picchu was voted into the New Seven Wonders of the World.
- It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
in 1983 Machu Picchu was announced as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- There is a no-fly zone over Machu Picchu. In 2006, there were plans to institute helicopter tours over Machu Picchu. However, after complaints by environmentalists stating that rare animals and plants, such as spectacled bears and vicunas, would be affected by the low-flying helicopters, the Peru Transport and Communication Ministry reversed its decision. As a result, this also means no drones are allowed to fly.
- You cannot visit wearing your countries folkloric attire.
The Peru government wants to preserve the sanctity of the famous site. Therefore you can’t show up in a Scottish Kilt, Japanese kimono, or German lederhosen to name a few.
- Machu Picchu is on the World Monuments Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites.
Finland agreed to trade 25% of Peru’s outstanding national debt (nearly USD $6 million) in exchange for conservation programs.
- The Intihautana stone was irreparably damaged in 2001 after a Peruvian beer company sneaked equipment onto the site to shoot a tv ad.
The camera crane operator was sentenced to 6 years in jail.
- Hiram Bingham’s team excavated more than 40,000 artifacts during his exploration and stored them at Yale University.
There was a protracted dispute over these items between Peru and Yale University. Those items were finally returned to Peru in 2011 to mark the Centennial of Bingham’s discovery.
- There is a yearly marathon foot race along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
The fastest time ever recorded was 3 hours and 34 minutes by a Peruvian man named, Roman Tinta, in 1997. For comparison, a well-fit person can expect to finish the Inca Trail marathon between 6 and 8 hours.
- There is a hidden temple to explored for those hiking up to Huayna Picchu.
This temple is in a cave which is called Templo de la Luna, or Temple of the Moon. It is a ceremonial shrine that is thought to have held mummies. The temple is off a trail that wraps around the peak.
- A local family claims that they continue to own Machu Picchu and they may have proof.
A descendant of one of the farmers living on the land when Hiram Bingham “discovered” the site, Roxana Abrill Nunez, has filed several lawsuits worth more than over $100 million in compensation and a cut of future tourism profits. Peru had continued to deny her claim despite having the deed showing the family purchased the land in 1910, a year before Bingham arrived.
Machu Picchu Facts FAQs
Who built Machu Picchu?
Machu Picchu is believed to have been built by Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, the ninth ruler of the Inca, in the mid-1400s. The Inca ruled the western part of South America in the 15th and 16th centuries.
50 Unbelievable Facts about Machu Picchu
David Kosloski: 00:03 Hello and welcome to the Peru Travel Podcast. I’m your host, Dave Kosloski alongside me is Kevin Groh. Kevin been chilling on the gmails. I just started without you even paying attention.
Kevin Groh: 00:15 I see that. It’s nice to be actually in the studio for once.
David Kosloski: 00:19 Studio, which as you can see is an office because we’re filming for the first time. Thank you guys for joining us. If you’re watching on YouTube, we have dogs around us. We have beautiful pictures, a printer that, for whatever reason, just wants to make noises throughout the show camera gear. You name it. This is my office.
Kevin Groh: 00:42 Yeah, I figured that since we’re doing the video for the first time, I actually had to throw something nice on. Because they used to say, you have a face for radio. But now we’re actually filming.
David Kosloski: 00:52 Yeah, I look like garbage anyways, but whatever. So today we’re going to be talking about 50 facts about Peru. Kevin, you actually spent a lot of time writing this up and so did I. We couldn’t believe that we found 50 facts. It was actually quite difficult.You’d think that it would be pretty easy, but it wasn’t.
Kevin Groh: 01:10 Yeah, I did a lot of digging just to be able to fill out 50 facts. I think I got about 41 or 42 and I was just struggling.
David Kosloski: 01:24 But there’s some pretty good stuff here. There’s definitely some facts that are obviously like most people kind of know, but then there’s some facts that are freaking bizarre and I’m excited. So we got 50 of them so we probably get into it. Some of you may not know, but Machu Picchu is an astronomy observatory. So, that’s pretty neat. Hiram Bingham also brought the site world attention. It’s kind of a weird story too because Hiram Bingham, gets a lot of credit for discovering Machu Picchu, but really he didn’t discover it. There was three farmers already there ahead of time when he got there. Isn’t that kind of what you found out?
Kevin Groh: 02:04 Yeah, it was pretty crazy. So when I was doing a little bit of research, everyone gives so much credit to Hiram. There’s actually quite a few other explorers that could be given credit for discovering Machu Picchu. There was one guy in the 1800s from Italy that actually came across the site and didn’t really think much of it. Then another group of Germans in the 1800s could have taken credit for discovering it, but just didn’t really bring it to attention. But it was actually Hiram, who was at the time looking for what was the Lost City of the Incas. And he thought he had discovered when he came to Machu Picchu, but, it wasn’t the actual city that he was looking for and just didn’t really know what he had found to have a few years later. But he was the one that actually got the credit because he took all the artifacts that his team excavated and brought them back to Yale.
Kevin Groh: 03:13 Yeah, that’s crazy. It’s funny, I will give credit where it is due. I mean people did discover it. He’s definitely the guy who thought it was special and brought it to its spotlight, which it is a pretty cool place. There were three farmers there. We talked about that. Machu Picchu was constructed between 1450 and 1460. Machu Picchu, the meaning means “Old Peak or Old Mountain.” This one I always thought was interesting too because David talked about this when we were actually on the Inca Trail the first time we were hanging out with them. Spanish conquistadors actually never made it to Machu Picchu and never conquered it. But there are theories that it’s possible that they brought disease to sort of wipe them out. Biological warfare would you say at its finest, if you will, back in the day, as awful as that sounds.
Kevin Groh: 04:06 Just to piggyback off that a little bit. They know for sure that the Spanish didn’t find it for a number of reasons. When they went back through various Spanish texts, they never found any mention of the Machu Picchu site in various diaries and various texts that the Spanish had written up. On top of that the Spanish when they had come in and conquered the Inca they had previously at other Inca ruins deface them and destroyed them. And there is absolutely no evidence of any defacing that had happened at Machu Picchu.
David Kosloski: 04:48 That’s interesting. That’s crazy. A little little tip outside of the 50 facts. Let’s see what else we got here, it’s a long long list. So we’re trying to, we’re going to try to simplify some of these, but the Incan empire was much more widespread than Peru. They actually made it to Argentina and Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile. By the way notice how I said Chile instead of Chile. And the reason I did that is because some mean rude person left a bad review stating that I don’t pronounce Spanish words well. Well you know, I don’t speak Spanish. I do the best that I can do. Thank you very much. I appreciate your criticism, but I will try harder.
Kevin Groh: 05:26 Yeah. I’m always like, Dave, you gotta you gotta pronounce it right.
David Kosloski: 05:30 It’s Ridiculous. Maybe it’s not ridiculous. I just, if you got something nice to say, I’d appreciate that too. Right? Like, these guys are great.
Kevin Groh: 05:40 There’s, there’s a couple of times where I’m listening to the podcast, going back through it and I’m just like, “oh, he didn’t, he didn’t say that, right? He’s saying he’s saying a Pachamama.
David Kosloski: 05:54 That’s all right though. It happens. We’re not all perfect. The general consensus is right. We talked about the Incan empire was more widespread. At the peak of the Incan Empire, many influential world events hadn’t taken place. It’s kind of an interesting one because when they were at the biggest they ever were, Columbus hadn’t come to America yet, the Mona Lisa wasn’t painted. So that’s kind of interesting.
Kevin Groh: 06:19 Yeah. Even, the famous St Peter’s Church in Rome it’s cornerstone hadn’t even been laid yet. It wasn’t even built yet.
David Kosloski: 06:32 The official purpose of the site is unknown. There are many theories as to what it was. But the Incas didn’t actually have a written language, so there’s no way of really knowing what it was for. The famous Inca Trail was a religious path to Machu Picchu. It was something we talked about in the past about what the Inca Trail is, but it was a religious path, or spiritual Because really when more religious, it was more of their spiritual.
David Kosloski: 07:00 Machu Picchu cannot fall.
Kevin Groh: 07:04 Yeah, that’s one that’s, I find pretty crazy. There’s earthquakes. It right on two different fault lines. So there’s gonna be tons of earthquakes there. In fact, Cusco and Lima have both been completely leveled, but Machu Picchu just remained untouched.
David Kosloski: 07:22 It’s interesting how that, how that plays out. I read about how it’s the way the stones are placed, but there’s no more so there’s no mortar. And so there’s a phrase the stones dance when an earthquake happens or something like that. They jiggle and you could see them move and it looks like they’re dancing and really it’s because there’s no mortar around it that they’re able to move and kind of slide around and still land in perfectly in place, they’re just so heavy.
Kevin Groh: 07:50 Yeah. The only thing I really know about that is that the technique was called Ashlar. So that’s the name of the technique that they use, but basically, it has something to do with how they placed the stones.
David Kosloski: 08:06 How big do you think those stones were?
Kevin Groh: 08:07 Each stone?
David Kosloski: 08:08 Yeah, just curious because I’m going to T you up here for the next one.
Kevin Groh: 08:13 I mean it totally depends on the stone. Each stone that they actually brought into Machu Picchu was at least 50 pounds, but a lot of the rock that they use in Machu Picchu, it was unmovable rock. So all they did was carve the granite rock and made statues out of the rock that they couldn’t move and just left it there.
David Kosloski: 08:36 It was crazy. Yeah. Because at the time the wheel had not been invented, at least for Peru. So they moved it. There’s a lot of different theories and David had kind of given us one or two, but no one really knows again. It’s kind of one of those weird phenomenon. So the official purpose of the site is unknown. The famous Inca Trail was religious. We went through that. The wheel hadn’t been invented. Okay. So there’s an extensive network of water channels and conduits within the grounds. That one is actually kind of surprising to me because when you are walking through Machu Picchu, it didn’t actually dawn on me until I was reading this and going through it how there are these little trails. There’s these lines of concrete, but its stone and water is just trickling right through and that was something we saw by Rayan Community where there’s just water flowing from the mountain through and I can’t comprehend it because I don’t know much about how to build that. But it is fascinating to see. I’m like, “Where is this water coming from? I remember specifically being like where’s this coming from?” David’s like, “Oh there’s a spring in the mountain.” And I’m like, “What? Who does that?”
Kevin Groh: 09:53 I, remember that too when we were in Machu Picchu just going around the site and just seeing these little channels running under where we walking through, under the stone that we’re walking on and going to a different part of the city and Machu Picchu.
David Kosloski: 10:09 There are more than 150 buildings within the complex. Most of Machu Picchu is made up of granite. The rest is held together by limestone. Most of what’s seen at Machu Picchu today is original. That’s pretty cool. Sixty percent of the construction is located underneath the surface. Do you have any more info on that?
Kevin Groh: 10:29 So basically all the info that I was able to find about that was a lot of it has to do with, the irrigation. So when we’re talking about the channels and the conduits, basically what they did was they crushed a lot of rock and put it underneath the surface. On top of that, I mean there’s caves that are underneath Machu Picchu, which contained some temples. There’s places that they had some rooms. So, for example, the Temple of the Sun, which is one of the main temples in Machu Picchu, there’s a cave sitting under it with altars there and they’re not really sure whether what it was used for, but it’s there,
David Kosloski: 11:10 We can’t go to it.
Kevin Groh: 11:12 as far as I’m aware of visitors can’t go to it, but there, but there’s scientists that go there and try to figure out what it was for.
David Kosloski: 11:20 So crazy. First of all, what jerk said, I can’t go see that. Now I’m so curious. Me sitting over there next time we go back and I’m just going to be knocking on the stone. Like, I know what’s here and I want to go in. It’s like Batman’s cave, you know? So Machu Picchu is split or was split into two different sections. And that means that the southern part was used for farming while the northern side was used for buildings, sort of like where people would hang out and live, etc. Machu Picchu is only 13 square kilometers, making it a fairly small city. Huayna Picchu Mountain housed the high priest and the local virgin. What’s the deal with the local virgins?
Kevin Groh: 12:05 I’m not sure about the local virgin situation.
David Kosloski: 12:08 We don’t have that right now. There’s not a home where local virgins are just chilling. That’s so weird.
Kevin Groh: 12:17 The only people that were allowed to live in Machu Picchu was the noble, the high priests, the local virgins. And then there were some other people that lived there.
David Kosloski: 12:27 Wait. So if you’re a virgin, you were a noble distinction. So you’ve never had sex. So you’re at the top of the food chain. That is so messed up. Whatever, dude. It’s cool, do your thing.
Kevin Groh: 12:41 But so with the agricultural center. The part where we said we were talking about where it’s split up in between the city and the agriculture. There’s a lot of people or peasants, I guess. The people that weren’t the nobles would actually come to hike up every day, to be able to farm.
David Kosloski: 13:15 Chasques I was reading something that they would go and they would get fresh fish from the ocean. I’m thinking, how the heck did they do that every day? There’s no way, right? How is that possible? I mean they must have had like multiple, right? It just doesn’t make sense to me.
Kevin Groh: 13:33 I’m not sure. If you think about how widespread the Incan empire was, The Incan empire in Peru, taking up Argentina and Chile. You got 20 million people, you’re going to have resources from the ocean coming into Cusco. You’re gonna be able to get it there.
David Kosloski: 13:57 So I don’t know if it’s from the ocean. Maybe it was from potentially like a lake or a river, but it is bizarre to me that a chasque’s job was to bring fresh fish. It’s just baffling to me, it’s a very crazy task because there’s not many fish up in Machu Picchu. When the Spanish invaded, the Inca destroyed nearly all the roads and leading to Machu Picchu in order to protect it, including a lot of the Inca Trail.
Kevin Groh: 14:36 So there \were various roads or trails that had led to Machu Picchu and when the Spanish had invaded they obviously wanted to protect Machu Picchu because as we had talked about before, is some sort of religious or spiritual site.
Kevin Groh: 14:54 So as you know, when you’re, getting conquered and all your people are dying, you’re going to do what she can to protect your most sacred sites. So what they did was they went around and basically ripped up all the stone that they had placed on the roads to Machu Picchu. For example, if you’ve actually hiked the Inca Trail, the first day, it’s all dirt. And they did that to hide Machu Picchu. It’s not until the second day on the Inca Trail that you’re actually walking on something they had placed.
David Kosloski: 15:28 It’s kind of sad to think about. Machu Picchu’s elevation is lower than Cusco. Obviously getting acclimated in Cusco makes Machu Picchu, a lot easier. A grass bridge provided a secret entrance into Machu Picchu for the army. And that is still something that you can walk today, not necessarily around Machu Picchu, but there is a grass bridge.
Kevin Groh: 15:50 So the bridge is no longer there, but you can see the trail that had led to the grass bridge.
David Kosloski: 15:55 Isn’t there a duplicate or something, or a replica of some sort.
Kevin Groh: 15:58 So there used to be, but in 1996, there was a fire at Machu Picchu and the grass bridge actually burned down.
David Kosloski: 16:05 Isn’t there another one in Peru?
Kevin Groh: 16:05 So there’s another one near Cusco but there’s not one in Machu Picchu. So there’s a similar type of type of bridge that you can actually walk across. And if you think about walking across a grass bridge, that’s pretty scary to do. When I was doing the research, the main reason that they had to use a grass bridge… Because if you think about where Machu Picchu is at, it’s sitting in the middle of three mountains and there’s really not many trees up there. So what I found out is if, you’re going to make a bridge… they even did this for the houses in Machu Picchu. So they had houses that were two stories, but you didn’t really have wood. If you’ve been there, you’ve seen the houses are all stones. So you didn’t have wood to build a ladder or build stairs to the second level. So what they did was they took the grass and they made basically a rope ladder, to get to the second floor. So they did the same exact same thing for the bridge, for the army going across this huge, you know, across the Urubamba River.
David Kosloski: 17:12 It’s so nuts. Every time I hear about that like David is like, “yeah, it was a grass bridging across.” I’m just saying I don’t know if I want to do that. I’m not walking across no grass bridge. Really talented and I’m a lot bigger than a lot of those Peruvian dudes, you know. So in the Inca times, there are only two ways in and out of Machu Picchu, which is kinda cool because it’s still how it is today. Two ways in and out there.
Kevin Groh: 17:38 And that actually provided a defense mechanism. So if you have done the Inca Trail, you’re coming in through the Sun Gate, which is a fair amount of ways from the actual Machu Picchu city. So those two ways and the other way in via the grass bridge. There may have been one more bridge that had entered into Machu Picchu. So the reason that they had these entrances so far away is if someone was invading it was very easy to destroy the entrance to get to Machu Picchu because you could see them coming and it would be very easy to block the entrance.
David Kosloski: 18:24 Yeah, they were big on defense. There are wet and dry seasons. We actually have a blog about that telling you what the best time of year to go. I’m going to plug that right now, we have a very intuitive blog that talks about the best time of year to go to Machu Picchu, three different options and kind of goes in scale in terms of what it is that you’re looking for. And it talks about the season and it talks about the costs and it talks about crowd control. So just check that out. It’s on the webpage. And then also I’m going to plug another thing is our Peru Tips for Travelers Facebook group. It’s a supportive group. A lot of people that have traveled with us before are in the group and just kind of like a small community helping each other. If you have questions about Peru, so if you want to check it out, go check it out. That being said, let’s move on. So because of the thick cloud forest… This one is stupid to me, I believe it, but it’s just golly. So because of the thick cloud forest, which is all the clouds around Machu Picchu, there is still much of Machu Picchu to be discovered. When I first heard that, no way, then I found out in 2011 we discovered more terraces around Machu Picchu.
Kevin Groh: 19:42 Yeah. It’s pretty crazy that you could probably walk off the trail and who knows, you may find some other terraces or some other house or whatever. It’s crazy.
David Kosloski: 20:02 It is crazy. Especially today. Now I know we’re not sending like drones, over Machu Picchu. There’s a no-fly zone. I know that we’re not probably picking out satellites, but in my head, I’m thinking, how do people not see this stuff out?
Kevin Groh: 20:17 It’s just the clouds are so dense, especially in the morning that it makes visibility pretty difficult.
David Kosloski: 20:24 What I should say is I get it. I understand. I just am surprised. There’s so much tech. I’m just, it’s just crazy to me think that. Maybe I just think we’re too awesome and we’re not. Maybe we’re not just that great. Machu Picchu was extremely important to the Incas. It was a spiritual site. Machu Picchu is located in the… See this is where it gets difficult. And I know someone’s going to just hate mail right now. I’m going to do my best. Vilacanote.
Kevin Groh: 20:53 I’m with you. I’m not totally sure, but I believe it’s a Vilacanote.
David Kosloski: 20:59 Vilacanote Mountain Range, is where it’s located. Machu Picchu is located on two fault lines, which is what we talked about earlier. And Machu Picchu actually flooded in 2010.
Kevin Groh: 21:10 So in 2010 there were super, super heavy rains and about 2000 and 2000 citizens or people that live in Aguas Calientes got trapped because all the railroads got destroyed. So they had to send helicopters in. Aguas Calientes is at the base of Machu Picchu. So, it wasn’t Machu Picchu just itself. Aguas Calientes was involved as well because you’re down by the railroad where it’s gonna flood. But a lot of people had to be rescued by helicopter because 4,000 people are there.
David Kosloski: 21:54 Machu Picchu is not the only archaeological site in Peru. Peru is not like a massive country, but there’s so much stuff to do. We haven’t even tapped Peru. There’s so many things. We haven’t done a lot of what Peru has to offer. There’s a rain forest, there is an oasis. There’s Lake Titicaca, the Nazca Lines. There’s so much to do in Peru. It’s absolutely insane. So yes, there are a lot of sites.
Kevin Groh: 22:32 There’s a lot of archeological sites that people aren’t even seeing. I mean we have Rayan Community. And you hike up this Incan ruin up there that no one’s ever seen.
Kevin Groh: 22:46 Rayan community, there was no one there. No one showed up there and it’s a site that we were so blessed to be able to see. We were the only three people there. It was, it was unreal.
David Kosloski: 23:01 That’s why we were able to film it. There are only two ways to get to Machu Picchu today. We talked about that. There are two hikes in addition to viewing Machu Picchu. Those are Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain. On average, 1.3 million people visit Machu Picchu yearly. Only 2500 tourist are allowed into Machu Picchu a day. Does this change or is that the new rule?
Kevin Groh: 23:22 So the 2,500 people per day is the new rule as of July 1st, 2017.
David Kosloski: 23:27 So the 1.3 million was potentially like an old stat that was obviously pulled in.
Kevin Groh: 23:33 Yep. So that was old. So the 2,500 people per day are people that are just coming to show up Machu Picchu. There’s going to be additional people there because people come in and through Inca Trail.
David Kosloski: 23:49 That it’s something that we got hit up about is “Hey I went to Machu Picchu without a guide.” Sure. Honestly, that stuff is so hard to regulate. There might be more people than 2,500 tourists that find a way to get into Machu Picchu.
Kevin Groh: 24:03 Right. So the official regulation says that you’ve got to have an official tour guide. But like you’re saying, there’s so many people there. And when we were even there this year in April, we had a guide but no one was really checking.
David Kosloski: 24:22 Did I not hear or see though that there are possibly making a tour, you have to follow a path?
Kevin Groh: 24:28 So that’s also part of the new regulation of July 2017. There’s supposed to be a path that you follow. So people go along in the same direction. Basically, this just a lot of techniques that they’re trying to use to conserve Machu Picchu. They’re so worried about it being destroyed with all the traffic.
David Kosloski: 24:47 Which is going to lead to the next one coming up here. Actually not quite yet. But you can get a stamp of Machu Picchu at the entrance to Machu Picchu for your passport. We’ve never done that.
Kevin Groh: 24:57 Never did that. Both times that we were there we left and we were like, “We didn’t get the stamp.” Gosh.
David Kosloski: 25:03 You could follow Hiram Bingham’s original path from 1911 leading to his discovery of Machu Picchu. Is that from Aguas Calientes?
Kevin Groh: 25:09 Yeah. So if you’re not taking the bus, it’s a hell of a hike.
David Kosloski: 25:16 There’s some things I just don’t want to do. I go back and that’s one of them.
Kevin Groh: 25:20 I’d rather take the bus. So you can either take a bus from Aguas Calientes up to the Machu Picchu entrance, it’s like 20 bucks. Which is the path that I’m going to take if I’m going to Machu Picchu. But if you’re cheap and you to do the hike. This is a very, very steep hike and you’re looking at a minimum of 90 minutes to get all the way.
David Kosloski: 25:46 Here’s the deal, if you’re going to do that hike and you just decided to opt out of the Inca Trail, or Salkantay Trail go home. Because I Would rather do the Inca Trail than that damn hike. Maybe I’m wrong, I’ve never done it. So, we could be wrong, but it looks like it looks like hell.
Kevin Groh: 26:04 It’s a lot of stairs. But, it is the original path that Hiram did take to discover Machu Picchu.
David Kosloski: 26:09 Yeah. For all you people who have to go to the bathroom a lot. Those people going early to at the restaurant and like, I got to see the bathroom. Well,l guess what? There are no bathrooms beyond the entrance of Machu Picchu. So just know that, inside of Machu Picchu, there are no bathrooms. There are two times slots to enter Machu Picchu, morning and afternoon, which those times are 6:00 AM and 11:00 AM if I’m not mistaken. So, even though it says afternoon until 11:00 AM, want to be there with a less amount of people, morning is your best shot. The Temple of the Sun is one of the three most important temples that visitors are able to see. Machu Picchu is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is a no-fly zone over Machu Picchu, which we talked about and you cannot bring your drones.
Kevin Groh: 27:06 What’s crazy about that is in 2006, there was a company that actually got a permission to do helicopter tours over Machu Picchu. But a lot of environmentalists protested it. And a week later, the Peruvian government took their certificate or their permission and reversed it.
David Kosloski: 27:28 I feel at times when I go to places that involve natural beauty when I’m hiking, we did Waimanu in Hawaii. I have a feeling that when I see helicopters it kind of ruins it.
Kevin Groh: 27:41 Yeah, totally. I mean it’s a place that Peru has actually done really well to preserve the original intent of Machu Picchu. And this is why we recommend having a tour guide because there are no signs when you’re going around explaining what things are. They kept it to the original intent of Machu Picchu. I agree with you, if you’re having helicopters flying overhead it really takes away the beauty of Machu Picchu.
David Kosloski: 28:14 Maybe someday we can come up with an app or a tour guide, photo type thing, that will explain where you are as you’re walking. If you want that and you’re listening to this, you just hit up, we’ll find some developers. You got gotta email us though. Tell us that you want it. That’s how bad you should want it. Really though, guys, a guide is super cheap and you’re actually helping the local economy. So I would highly recommend it in general. This one’s funny, I love this one actually because I have German friends. So you cannot visit wearing your country’s folkloric attire. So if you’re German coming from Germany, you cannot wear a lederhosen. Sorry, you got to leave that crap at home, man. I butchered the German accent. I say if you’re Scottish, can’t wear a kilt.
David Kosloski: 29:03 If you’re Irish, can’t wear a kilt.
Kevin Groh: 29:05 If you’re Japanese, can’t wear a kimono.
David Kosloski: 29:07 If you’re American, you can’t wear overalls or something. If you’re American, you can’t wear a shotgun. Can’t walk up in there with a shotgun. Boy, I tell you what.
Kevin Groh: 29:19 Charlie wouldn’t be able to wear his American flag swim trunks.
David Kosloski: 29:23 So Machu Picchu is on the World Monuments Watchlist of the 100 Most Endangered Sites. So this one’s actually pretty cool because Finland kind of jumped in on this one, right? They agreed to trade. You’re the economic guy. So why don’t you take this?
Kevin Groh: 29:47 So they’re on the World Monuments Watchlist of the Hundred Most Endangered Sites and the main reason for that is because of all the traffic that is at Machu Picchu. They just want to preserve the site. and
David Kosloski: 30:01 What’s the situation with the debt?
Kevin Groh: 30:07 I’m not sure why Finland agreed to do it.
David Kosloski: 30:11 So they agreed to trade 25% of Peru’s outstanding national debt. That’s nearly $6,000,000 US, by the way, in exchange for conservation programs. What does that mean? Why would you do that as a country in terms of economic status?
Kevin Groh: 30:28 Honestly, I’m not really sure, it could be that maybe Finland cares about natural beauty or earth or nature. And so they were like, “If you do conservation efforts to maintain Machu Picchu, we will take away 25 percent of the debt that you owe us.
David Kosloski: 30:50 So what does that mean? That basically they give you money?
Kevin Groh: 30:53 No, they just, they just basically wiped it clean. So Peru owed Finland money as part of their debt. And Finland said, “if you make a lot of policies to preserve Machu Picchu, we will forgive, six million dollars. At one point Machu Picchu had been taken off the endangered list because they did such a good job of conserving it but it is actually back on now.
David Kosloski: 31:29 Why is that? Tourists?
Kevin Groh: 31:30 Tourists. It’s getting more popular.
David Kosloski: 31:34 Owning a Peru travel company, we’re always curious as to how this is going to impact us and impact David and the families that we work with. Ourselves, I mean, this is our job. There’s this conflicting idea, support the locals, well that’s essentially what we’re doing. The difference is that we’re doing in an organized way where our people are being paid well and adequately. We’re helping with English speaking courses and helping communities. But besides the point of us bragging, I think the thing that is difficult is knowing what’s going to happen in the next 20 years. Right?
Kevin Groh: 32:15 See they’re trying to strike the balance of tourism and Machu Picchu is, their job is their livelihood in Peru.
David Kosloski: 32:29 It’s got to take a big part of their income.
Kevin Groh: 32:32 Oh yeah. If you’re reducing the number of people that can go to Machu Picchu, you’re reducing the number of people that are employed because there is fewer tourists to go there.
David Kosloski: 32:41 You’re strangling Aguas Calientes.
Kevin Groh: 32:45 UNESCO actually had wanted to reduce the number of people entered per day to 900 people per day. Peru said, no way, this is a big source of income for people and the country. And so they kind of came to the compromise of the 2,500 people per day.
David Kosloski: 33:04 I don’t know much about it. We should look into something like that. Just to understand more of why it’s endangered. What’s can people do to help? For example, we go hiking and pack it in, pack it out. Leave no trace. Yeah. It pisses me off more than anything in the world when I was in Lake Havasu falls and I see trash. Clean your crap up. Like, stop. It is what it is. It’s a very sensitive topic and it really becomes difficult when you’re in a place like that. I know there’s punk kids in Machu Picchu trying to break stones or do something. Which, we’re going to get to one example actually right now, that is very frustrating. And, it just pisses me off to no end if I’m going, to be honest. Do you want to pronounce that word right there?
Kevin Groh: 34:06 I’m probably butchering it a little bit too. But the Intihuatana stone.
David Kosloski: 34:11 We’re not saying it right at all, but that stone, which is basically was something used for the solstices.
David Kosloski: 34:22 Summer solstice and the winter. The sun is eventually over at one point throughout the year. I don’t think we mentioned this. At one point throughout the year the sun is directly over this stone and casts no shadow, and it’s at a specific time of the year every single year. Anyways. That stone was damaged permanently in 2001 after a Peruvian beer company sneaked equipment onto the site to shoot a tv ad. Like how crappy is that? Can you imagine? The camera crane operator was sentenced to six years in jail. In my honest opinion, I feel like the entire beer company should have been in big trouble.
Kevin Groh: 34:57 I mean if you think about right there, I mean that’s totally a violation of the leave no trace motto that you try to follow when you go somewhere.
David Kosloski: 35:07 You damaged something that was designed and made by someone and can never be repaired. Never again. And it can’t be replaced in general. I would feel like a horrible human. That’d be gut-wrenching for me. It’s bizarre that they were that careless. Hiram Bingham’s team excavated more than 40,000 artifacts during his exploration and stored them in Yale University. So it kinda makes me laugh. It’s because it’s kind of crappy, but back then that’s kind of what happened.
Kevin Groh: 35:38 There was actually a big argument between since 1911 when he discovered it, Peru and Yale, who actually owned the artifacts and then finally in 2011, to mark the centennial of the discovery of Machu Picchu, Yale actually returned all the items to Peru. So they’re no longer in Yale. They’re back with Peru.
David Kosloski: 36:05 This is brand new.
Kevin Groh: 36:07 2011.
David Kosloski: 36:08 We might need to note that actually then that’s a really good fact. So there is a yearly marathon foot race along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Kevin Groh: 36:21 Every year there’s a marathon and if you think about the elevation that you’re at and going up and down
David Kosloski: 36:27 Can Americans do it?
Kevin Groh: 36:29 You can do it. You can sign up to do it. I believe it’s somewhere around $3,000 for the event.
David Kosloski: 36:35 I thought Chasques did that though.
Kevin Groh: 36:42 The Chasques must get it for free because the guy that’s the record holder is a chasque and he set the record in 1997. He did the Inca Trail Marathon in 3 hours and 27 minutes. Which is blazing fast when you think about it.
David Kosloski: 37:00 Could you have done it?
Kevin Groh: 37:01 No way. There’s no way.
David Kosloski: 37:02 At your peak performance, could you have done it.
Kevin Groh: 37:04 No way. And I wouldn’t even want to risk it because think about where you almost fell over the ledge.
David Kosloski: 37:09 And so you were at your peak, right? A little-known story. At one point Kev, you were training for the marathon for the Olympic Trials.
Kevin Groh: 37:17 So not for the trials. But I had run a 2:48 marathon.
David Kosloski: 37:23 And you don’t think you’d have been able to do that?
Kevin Groh: 37:25 Not on that, because one, you’re at elevation, you’re pretty high up.
David Kosloski: 37:29 So this guy would’ve come here and kicked your ass.
Kevin Groh: 37:32 Oh yeah, sure. Yeah, definitely. He would he would smoke me. You’re going over all that, cobblestone. You’re going up and down elevation. the highest point you’re going up to 14,000 feet, so you’re going to be winded because of the higher elevation. And then, a fit person, they’re probably going to do it in between six and eight hours. And this guy, in 1997, a chasque did it in like three hours.
David Kosloski: 38:01 97? Oh, sorry bro. Had a heart attack. I thought you were saying he was 97. I’m like, “what is going on?” Three hours and 27 minutes. That’s crazy. There is a hidden temple that can be explored for those hiking up Huayna Picchu. Do you know much about that?
Kevin Groh: 38:20 So, that’s the Temple of the Moon. And a lot of people actually don’t really go to discover it. They basically go up to Huayna Picchu and take a photo. Just take a photo of Machu Picchu below and kind of look around. So the Temple of the Moon is kind of off trail and there are various levels that you can go to. It’s just situated sitting in a cave. It’s a cave but it’s a temple. It’s pretty cool.
David Kosloski: 38:49 We’ve never done Huayna Picchu. And the reason for that is because every time we’ve gotten to damn Machu Picchu we’ve been exhausted. Dead. Give me a minivan to take me up to Huayna Picchu cuz I’m fried.
Kevin Groh: 39:03 Maybe next time instead of doing four-day hikes, we’ll just take the train.
David Kosloski: 39:07 Maybe we can just like convince David and just hanging out at Aguas Calientes just for three days. I like that town. I really do like Aguas Calientes. First of all, I love sleeping there. If you’re a person who loves white noise, the hotel that we stay in, that river flowing, it is just amazing. Did you experience that?
Kevin Groh: 39:28 I couldn’t hear the river where I was.
David Kosloski: 39:31 Where I was sleeping, dude, I could snuggle up in them sheets. It was amazing.
David Kosloski: 39:36 So now we’re onto our last fact. That’s 50 of them. I don’t even know how long this episode is, hope it’s not super long, but this one is really interesting. I think at some point we should do a big research project. Maybe bring it back to the podcast to talk about this because this is freaking nuts. Maybe at some point, if it’s possible we need to find this person.
Kevin Groh: 40:05 Yeah, well we have the name.
David Kosloski: 40:06 Yeah. We could find her and contact her and get her on the show. That would be incredible. We’ve got some contacts, right? We went to the local Nashville Peruvian cultural event that happened here. If you didn’t know we’re based out of Nashville. This one is freaking so crazy and I keep talking about, but it is absolutely bonkers. So a local family claims that they currently continue to own Machu Picchu and that they may have proof. What the hell, Kevin, break this down.
Kevin Groh: 40:44 This really blew my mind. Where we were talking about before, Hiram really did not discover Machu Picchu. The way Hiram discovered Machu Picchu really was a local Peruvian lead him. So when they got up there, there were actually three different farmers that were living on Machu Picchu, farming the land. One of the descendants of one of the guys that were living at Machu Picchu, farming the land, she has brought multiple lawsuits against the country of Peru. Claiming over $100,000,000 and trying to get future profits. But based on what I read, she actually
Kevin Groh: 41:34 has the deed and it does show that her grandfather bought the land in 1910, the year before Hiram discovered it.
David Kosloski: 41:41 Is this not blowing your minds right now? There’s some human who probably owns Machu Picchu and every time that she goes to court, I’m assuming they just throw it out.
Kevin Groh: 41:50 I’m sure they do. If you think about how big Machu Picchu is, of course, they’re going to deny it.
David Kosloski: 41:56 How do you feel? Just a moral compass? I’m just curious, how does that make you feel? What do you think is right in that situation?
Kevin Groh: 42:02 Honestly, I have no idea because it’s this massive world cultural site.
David Kosloski: 42:09 What do you think happened when Hiram Bingham showed up? Do you think he just kicked all the farmers off? That’s the question.
David Kosloski: 42:19 If she had to deed to this place, why would somebody agree? Yeah, that’s the other interesting thing. I mean I got a pretty cool house, found a volcano underneath it and you wanna start doing tourism I’d be like, you’re gonna have to start paying me some money. I got a dinosaur underneath my basement. You know what I mean? Wanna figure something out? That is weird. I don’t understand how that plays out. It’s good stuff. Fifty facts on Machu Picchu. Guys, we’re going to plug a couple things real quick just to keep this short and sweet. We got a cool blog that we’ve been doing lately. We’ve got things on elevation. We’ve got things on best time to go to Machu Picchu, how to get your Machu Picchu entrance ticket.
David Kosloski: 43:01 If you don’t want to book through a company. We’re kind of giving you the house. Educate as best we can because it in a day we want you to go. If you don’t book through us, hey, you don’t book through us. But we’re going to give you all the information available to help you make an educated guess because we believe a more educated customer is a better customer anyway. So if you do all your research and you realize, I want to go these Cachi guys, because they gave me everything and they’re really good dudes and they’re helping locals out the best that we can. Help us grow and help support us. Check out Peru Tips for Travelers on Facebook. It’s a Facebook group. Like we said earlier, helping people get together and kind of ask questions.
David Kosloski: 43:40 Maybe there’s something that you have a question about that we aren’t going to answer like Ahayausca. I’m not going to answer that. No, not at all. Maybe there’s a question that you have. Kevin’s like, I hate you. There’s a question about the Nazca Lines. We don’t do tours there, but there is a community there that will probably help you answer those. And if we can’t find the answer, we’re always good about looking into it for you.
Kevin Groh: 44:01 At the end of the day, we just want you to enjoy Peru. Because it’s an amazing place. It’s worth seeing and we just want you to enjoy it.
David Kosloski: 44:10 Absolutely. And if you have anything in particular that you want to just reach out to us, do a video call. We’ve got a lot of different times that we’ve set up with people just to have a conversation. Set up an hour of our time. Whatever is that we’re doing throughout the day at 3:00, 4:00 PM. Sit on a call with you to talk about Peru and kinda what ideas you’ve got laid out.
David Kosloski: 44:29 And if you’ve traveled to Peru already, shoot us your photos. We love seeing the cool stuff that people put together. There’s so many cool things that people see that we haven’t seen we’re like,” oh, we want to go check that out next time we go.” Side note, there is a guy who’s been listening to the podcast who’s booking his trip and I was thinking of possibly getting him to talk about the questions that he has just to get them on here. Ask all his questions and maybe they’re not thinking about them and then he goes, comes back and gives us a status update. So what was true, what was wrong, what’s changed, what’s not because things change and we can’t keep up. But anyways, I’m rambling. Thank you guys so much for listening. Again, I’m David Kosloski.
Kevin Groh: 45:10 And I’m Kevin Groh.
Kevin Groh: 45:11 That’s right. And we hope to see you soon or talk to you soon. Take care.
I didn’t have any knowledge of Macha Picchu until Googling it an hour ago. Ive been so touched reading the information about it. Thank you. I don’t imagine I will ever be able to go there, but vacariously I have just now. 🙂 Susan, Hayward, CA USA
Someday we’ll get you there! 🙂
Thanks for checking us out Susan!