As site that is famed as one of the best preserved remnants of the Incan culture is none other than Machu Picchu in Peru. Its elevation may have been its saving grace during destructive Spanish raids. The buildings that scatter the area bear few marks of damage that are consistent with those made during this devastating period. Because of its hidden location it may have been one of the last areas to be discovered or perhaps not encountered at all by the conquistadors.
The site is shrouded in mystery. Several years passed during which historians believed it to be the remains of a city. Now evidence implores that it was in fact the estate of a ruler set high in the hills. This is yet unconfirmed but more and more sources are swayed by the argument with each passing year.
In truth the area did not see much use. Studies have revealed that the edifices were abandoned less than 100 years after their initial construction began. The cause of this remains unknown but many attribute the quick decline of the area to increasing hostility on the part of foreign explorers and the introduction of those killer diseases that came with them.
Now it is relatively simple to plan an adventure that revolves around this wonder of the ancient world. Flights to Peru can begin around $900. It is most probable, and generally cost effective to fly into the capital city of Lima. Once there, arrangements will need to be made for a trip the the elevated city of Cuzco.
Plan on spending a couple of days in this remarkable area in order to adjust to the elevation. Altitude sickness in this part of the world is a very real possibility. This risk becomes even more so once individuals set out on the Inca Trail. Take a bit of time to let the body adjust and enjoy the culture this area has to offer. Local food is rumored to be very delicious and quite healthy as well. Expect flavorful dishes using traditional South American cooking techniques.
There are many options when it comes to visiting Machu Picchu. Various lengths of the Inca Trail can be undertaken by adventurous travelers. Guide companies usually offer 4 and 5 day treks. A decent company will have high quality equipment including tents and sleeping bags. Typically English speaking guides are provided who can enlighten their guests with some interesting history regarding the natural spectacle that surrounds this mountain path.
For those who simply wish to view the site there are day trip options. This still involves a bit of a hike but is well worth the effort as an early morning in the mountainous city has an almost ethereal atmosphere. South American vacations can be one of the best bets for combining culture with breathtaking scenery.