17 Machu Picchu Facts You Won't Believe

Ever wondered what makes Machu Picchu a bucket-list destination? Well, you're in for a treat as we unravel 17 fascinating Machu Picchu facts that'll make you want to pack your bags right now and travel there with Skyhook Adventure.
machu picchu signage

17 Fun Facts About Machu Picchu

Ready to dive into the heart of the Andes and explore the secrets of this iconic landmark? Let's embark on a whirlwind tour of 17 mind-blowing Machu Picchu facts!

1. The Name's a Puzzle

Ever wondered what 'Machu Picchu' actually means? The name comes from the Quechua language, spoken by the Incas. 
In Quechua, 'Machu Picchu' translates to 'Old Mountain,' which perfectly captures the ancient grandeur of this iconic site. So, the next time you hear someone marvelling at the Machu Picchu Mountains, you can dazzle them with this little linguistic gem!

2. It Was Never Really Lost

Contrary to popular belief, Machu Picchu was never really 'lost.' While it gained worldwide attention after being 'discovered' by Hiram Bingham in 1911, locals were well aware of its existence. 
In fact, farmers were using the terraced fields when Bingham arrived! So, the term 'Lost City of the Incas' might be a romantic notion for adventurers, but for the locals, it was always right there on the map.

3. It's an Engineering Marvel

Prepare to have your mind blown by the Incas' architectural prowess! Machu Picchu showcases an advanced construction technique known as ashlar masonry. What's so special about it? 
Well, the stones are cut so precisely that they fit together like puzzle pieces, eliminating the need for mortar. This adds to the site's aesthetic appeal and makes it incredibly durable. So, the next time you marvel at those perfectly aligned stones, remember, it's not magic—it's Inca ingenuity!
llama in machu picchu ruins

4. It's Earthquake-Proof

Think modern engineering is advanced? Wait till you hear this: the Incas had earthquake-resistant technology down to an art! 
The secret lies in their ashlar masonry technique, which we just talked about. 
The precision-cut stones are not just snug; they're also slightly inclined, giving the structures a trapezoidal shape. This design allows the stones to move somewhat during seismic activity and then settle back into place. So, Machu Picchu isn't just a marvel to look at; it's also built to last!

5. It's a Cloud Forest Wonderland

Did you know that a lush cloud forest surrounds Machu Picchu? That's right! This misty paradise is teeming with unique biodiversity. 
From vibrant orchids to elusive Machu Picchu animals like spectacled bears, the area around the ancient citadel is a nature lover's dream.
It's not just about the Sacred Valley Cusco Peru ruins; the journey through this cloud forest adds another layer of magic to the whole Machu Picchu experience.

6. It's an Orchid Paradise

Machu Picchu isn't just an archaeological marvel; it's also an orchid paradise. Believe it or not, the cloud forest surrounding the site is home to over 300 species of orchids. 
From the vibrant Masdevallia to the elusive Wiñay Wayna, each orchid adds a splash of colour to this ancient landscape. So, when figuring out what to pack for the Inca trail, don't forget to add your camera; you'll want to capture these floral beauties!
Machu Picchu Train

7. It Has Two Ways In

Adventure or comfort? What's your travel style? When it comes to reaching Machu Picchu, you've got two main options. 
For the thrill-seekers, the iconic Inca Trail is a four-day trek that takes you through stunning landscapes and ancient ruins. 
If you're more about the destination than the journey, hop on a train to Machu Picchu and then take a short bus ride up to the site. Either way, getting there is half the fun!

8. It Has Its Own Passport Stamps

Who doesn't love collecting unique passport stamps? Well, here's a fun tidbit: you can actually get your passport stamped while on the Machu Picchu circuit
That's right, after exploring the ancient citadel, head over to the on-site office and add this one-of-a-kind stamp to your travel collection. It's the perfect souvenir to commemorate your adventure and make your friends green with envy!
machu picchu locals

9. Its Purpose is Unknown

Ah, the million-dollar question: what was Machu Picchu built for? Theories abound, but no one knows for sure. Some historians believe it was a royal estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti, while others argue it was a religious retreat. 
The lack of definitive records adds an extra layer of mystery to this already enigmatic site. So, whether you're a history buff or a conspiracy theorist, Machu Picchu gives you plenty of room for speculation!

10. It Has Alien Theories Surrounding It

While historians and archaeologists have their theories, some people can't resist attributing Machu Picchu's intricate construction to extraterrestrial help. Yes, you read that right—aliens! 
The idea is that the Incas couldn't possibly have achieved such architectural precision without some otherworldly assistance. While it's a fun theory to entertain, there's no concrete evidence to support it. But hey, it adds an extra layer of intrigue to an already mysterious place!
taking photos at machu picchu

11. It Has Numerous Annual Visitors

Think Machu Picchu is a hidden gem visited by only a few? Think again! In 2022, about 979,000 people made the trek to this ancient wonder. That's a significant increase from the 447,800 in 2021.
But don't worry. Efforts are in place to manage the crowds and preserve the site. 
In fact, a study was conducted to determine how many visitors could safely explore Machu Picchu without damaging the sanctuary or diminishing the tourist experience. So, while you'll be sharing the view with others, rest assured that it's all part of a carefully managed plan.

12. It Has a Bollywood Connection

Who knew Machu Picchu had a flair for drama? Believe it or not, this ancient citadel made a cameo in a Bollywood music video! 
The song 'Kilimanjaro' from the Indian film 'Robot' features scenes shot against the backdrop of these iconic ruins. 
So, the next time you're humming along to Bollywood tunes, remember that Machu Picchu has its own star-studded moment!

13. Its Altitude Matters

Feeling a bit lightheaded? It might be Machu Picchu altitude sickness! While Cusco sits at a dizzying 3,399 meters (11,152 feet) above sea level, Machu Picchu is relatively lower at 2,430 meters (7,972 feet). 
This difference can be a relief for travellers who find Cusco's elevation challenging. So, if you're planning your trip, it might be a good idea to acclimatise in this famous city and find fun Cusco things to do before heading to the ancient citadel. Just a helpful tip to make your adventure more enjoyable!
machu picchu llamas

14. The Llamas are there for the Tourists

Those adorable Machu Picchu llamas you see grazing around Machu Picchu? They're actually not native to the site! 
While they make for perfect Instagram moments, these fluffy creatures were brought in to keep the grass trimmed and, of course, to delight tourists. So, while snapping that perfect llama selfie, remember they're part of the modern Machu Picchu experience!

15. It Has the Sacred Sun Gate

Are you looking for that perfect sunrise at Machu Picchu? Make your way to the Machu Picchu Sun Gate, or 'Inti Punku' in Quechua. 
This vantage point offers a breathtaking view of the ancient citadel, especially during the summer solstice. 
On that day, the sun rises perfectly through the gate, casting a magical glow over Machu Picchu. It's a celestial spectacle that adds a touch of the divine to your adventure!
5 day salkantay trek (machu picchu)

16. It's The Topic of a Century-old Artefact Dispute

Did you know that Machu Picchu was at the centre of a century-long dispute between Peru and Yale University? 
When Hiram Bingham discovered the site, he took several artefacts back to Yale for study. Peru wasn't too pleased and demanded their return. 
It took nearly 100 years, but in 2012, the artefacts were finally repatriated. So, while you're marvelling at the ruins, remember that Machu Picchu has its own tale of international intrigue!

17. It's a No-Fly Zone

Ever thought of skipping the Machu Picchu hike and flying straight to Machu Picchu? Well, think again! Helicopters are strictly prohibited from flying over the site. The reason? 
To preserve the integrity of the ruins and minimise environmental impact. Plus, the noise could disturb the local wildlife. So, while a helicopter ride might sound like a quick and glamorous way to arrive, the rules are in place to keep Machu Picchu as pristine as possible.
machu picchu (7-day inca trail)
The best view of Machu Picchu.

Conclusion

From its enigmatic origins to its modern-day allure, Machu Picchu is more than just a stop on your Peru adventure with our vetted guides at Skyhook; we've got the best travel tips Machu Picchu for this epic Peruvian journey through history, culture, and natural beauty.
Whether you're a history buff, a nature lover, or an adrenaline junkie, this ancient citadel offers something for everyone.

Other Machu Picchu Articles