4 Reasons Machu Picchu Is Still Worth It Even If You Don’t Hike the Inca Trail
1) Engineering marvel. The construction of Machu Picchu is a remarkable feat of engineering. The buildings are constructed of stone cut and fit together so perfectly, all without the benefit of mortar, that you can’t slide a credit card between the cracks. You can also see how the Incas pioneered earthquake-safe building techniques in the trapezoid-shaped doorways and inward-leaning walls throughout the site. Finally, the 700-plus farming terraces and elaborate water distribution system are still limiting erosion today in spite of frequent torrential rainstorms and hoards of tourists trampling through the site.
2) Mystery. Discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, Machu Picchu is still shrouded in mystery. It could have been a ceremonial site, a military stronghold, or a retreat for the ruling class. Perched on the steep slopes overlooking the Urubamba River, its location is suitable for any of these purposes. Since the Incas didn’t have a written language, though, there is no record of why they built it, how they used it, or why, in the early 16th century, they ultimately abandoned it. Finally, why the Spanish Conquistadores never stumbled across it as they criss-crossed the country is also a mystery.
3) Beauty. Machu Picchu is perched on the steep slopes of a lush green mountain. Llamas roam the ruins. Hummingbirds flit between flowers. Delicate orchids dot the landscape. Machu Picchu is astonishingly beautiful. You simply can’t take a bad picture here.
4) Magic. I know it sounds corny, but there really is a magical energy in Machu Picchu. My visits to Machu Picchu have quite literally changed the trajectory of my life.