Once mistakenly referred to as “The Lost City of the Incas” (which is actually a different location- Vilcabamba), Machu Picchu is anything from lost now. Found by multiple explorers before the modern day crowds, Machu Picchu’s location is incredibly well-known- and an incredibly interesting part of it’s history.
The archaeological site of Machu Picchu is located in the Cusco Region,Urubamba Province,Machupicchu Districtof Peru in South America. When looking at a map, you’ll see it located exactly 120 kms to the northwest of the city of Cusco, Peru on the Eastern slope of the Andes and resting in the Sacred Valley of the Urubamba River (the name given to the Vilcanota River in this area). It sits 7,970 feet (2,430 meters) above sea level, hundreds of feet above the Urubamba River and small mountainside town of Aguas Calientes (through which all tourists access Machu Picchu).
At 1465 km (910 miles) South from the Equator, the climate is unique and the temperature doesn’t vary too much, even though the rain levels between the rainy and dry season can vary greatly. It’s proximity to the Amazon jungle and river leads to locals calling it’s location the “eyebrow of the jungle”: More scientifically, it is located in the “low jungle”, and region where the jungle and highlands meet.
Resting in it’s location in the mountains of Vilcabamba, the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu constitutes one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, and Peru’s main tourist destination. Few things made by humans maintain such harmony with their natural surroundings and adjacent archaeological groups as Machu Picchu does.
The archaeological site is strategically located on the peak of the Machu Picchu Mountain (Quechua for “old” or “major mountain”) which is where the name for now famous Machu Picchu comes from. Facing this mountain is Huayna Picchu (“young mountain”), the peak seen in most every photograph of the site, which also hosts several related ruins of it’s own. Both peaks are surrounded by the mighty Urubamba River, all points of interest which had deep meaning to the Incas and their citadel.
The location of Machu Picchu, beyond simply the value of the setting itself, is important because of it’s location within South America. For the Incas, the location relative to it’s surroundings was believed to be important because it was relatively central for the Incas to travel between Machu Picchu and other locations, while also being high on the mountain and therefore protected.
The natural setting of the site is spectacular, and the location itself is as important a part of the draw of Machu Picchu as the ruins are. The significance of one greatly depends on the other, and all visitors to Machu Picchu will quickly see what a vital role the landscape plays in the layout of the architecture and in the Incan empire as a whole.
How far are South America’s major cities from Machu Picchu?
From Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Machu Picchu: approx 4000 kms / 2485 miles
From Sao Paulo, Brazil to Machu Picchu: approx 3600kms / 2236 miles
From Santiago de Chile, Chile to Machu PIcchu: approx 2850 kms / 1770 miles
From Buenos Aires, Argentina to Machu Picchu: approx 3300 kms / 2050 miles
From La Paz, Bolivia to Machu Picchu: approx 640 kms / 397 miles
From Asunción, Paraguay to Machu Picchu: approx 2700 kms / 1677 miles
From Montevideo, Uruguay to Machu Picchu: approx 3500 kms / 2174 miles
From Lima, Peru to Machu Picchu: approx 1100 kms / 683 miles
From Bogota, Colombia to Machu Picchu: approx 4000 kms / 2485 miles
From Caracas, Venezuela to Machu Picchu: approx 4600 kms / 2860.miles
From Quito, Ecuador to Machu Picchu: approx 3000 kms / 1864 miles