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Discover Machu Picchu

July 24 will mark the 100th anniversary of the rediscovery of Machu Picchu, Peru, by the American explorer Hiram Bingham. Machu Picchu, meaning “Old Mountain,” was built on a mountain ridge in the 15th century by the Incas who once ruled a vast territory in and around the Andes mountain range.A stunning archeological remnant of Inca culture, Machu Picchu is located in mist-covered green mountains dotted with striking rock formations. The complex includes walls, terraces, ramps, temples and residences made from large rocks that were somehow precisely cut and polished. In some cases, entire flights of steps are carved from a single block of granite.Some experts say Machu Picchu was a place of rest and relaxation for nobility; some say it was a sacred site; and others believe it was a fortress. Whatever its past, Machu Picchu was unknown to most of the world before Bingham brought it to international attention in 1911. Bingham came upon the remote mountain site while searching for the city of Vilcamaba, which was a refuge for the Incas during the Spanish conquest. The 100th anniversary of Bingham’s rediscovery provides a great opportunity to join Peruvians in celebrating the history and heritage of the Incas.While Machu Picchu was never found by any invader, today it is Peru’s most-visited tourist attraction. Visitors usually embark from the city of Cuzco, about 50 miles away, or from the smaller town of Aguas Calientes at the foot of the mountain. After taking a train, bus or taxi to Aguas Calientes, the only way to get to Machu Picchu itself is by bus or by foot. Walking the route is best left to the fit and adventurous, but is a wonderful way to fully enjoy the area’s majestic beauty. If you do hike up and down from the ruins, you can look forward to soaking in one of the hot springs for which Aguas Calientes is named before turning in for the night.To plan your journey to Machu Picchu, talk with a travel professional.

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