The Beauty and Mystery of Machu Picchu

No trip to Peru is complete without a trip to Machu Picchu. In our yearly Peru expeditions, we include Machu Picchu as an optional day excursion, but we strongly encourage you to explore this sacred site! 

When it was discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911, Machu Picchu was covered by jungle plant life. Archaeologists from Yale University began to excavate the ruins, which were among the few ruins in the world that had not been looted or destroyed. Up to this day, Machu Picchu continues to have new archeological areas discovered each year, widening its lower terraces even further below the main sanctuary.

Of all the Inca Ruins, Machu Picchu continues to be the center of great mystery and debate about its true purposes. It is even considered one of the new seven wonders of the world. The Temple of the Sun was a place for gatherings and ceremonies, especially on the solstices of June 21 and December 21.

Our Peruvian guides who accompany you through the ruins will describe the many facets of the park – the many nooks and crannies, crystalline caves, and the symbols carved on the rocks. Some claim that there are seven vortexes of energy there similar to our chakras. There are also lines of energy referred to as ceke lines that connect significant rocks and symbols. At one time, there were also calendar lines that extended along the mountaintops all the way to Cuzco.

In the Sacred Valley of the Incas, you are surrounded by two main Mountains – Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu. Machu means old, and huayna means young. There is also the sense that machu holds the masculine energy and huayna is the feminine mountain. You can hike to the top of Machu Picchu, following what seems like endless steps of carved rock on a constant journey up. Or, if you are early enough to be among the limited number of journeyers allowed to hike to the top of Huayna Picchu, there is a small cave passageway that you crawl through before opening into a bird’s-eye view of the entire site from the top. Many have compared it to a birthing tunnel and a place of rebirth and renewal. Far below near the valley floor, the Temple of the Moon carries a feminine quality and connects to the goddess traditions from the past.

In the main portion of the ruins is the Temple of the Condor. This is a rock carving of a single eye and a stylized body of a condor with two very large rock wings. It symbolizes the shaman’s journey of looking inward on his journey of becoming the visionary.

As you climb Machu Picchu to the start of the Inca Trail, there is a wide open area with a large stone carved in the shape of a barge and steps on one side. Many shamans use this stone to journey beyond death in a symbolic trip around the earth and back under the stars. Some speculate that this stone was also used for the Inca as they transitioned after their death. There is often heat lightning in the distant skies here. Lore has it that one is struck twice by lightning on the top of Machu Picchu to receive their call to become a shaman.

Whether you journey to the mountain tops of Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu, wander the sacred site, spend time at the Pachamama stone, or find your own quiet sanctuary to spend the day in meditation, no trip to Peru is complete until you experience this magical site.


Readers, be sure to explore the Machu Picchu optional day excursion in many of our Peru expeditions!


  1. Andrea – Great photos and a nice recap of your trip! How was the hike up to Machu Picchu? My mom went there about 10 years ago and did the hike. Reading your blog bhrogut back memories of her stories from Peru. I know she was really sad about all the children on the streets, and it sounded like she gave them pretty much everything in her purse that she could! I’m glad you guys stood your ground on the cab issue!!

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