Explore Machu Picchu through the eyes of an expert travel guide

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Anyone can navigate the principal sites of “Machu Picchu”:http://www.peruforless.com/destinations/machu-picchu-tours/ with a map. But it takes trained eyes to observe the smaller – sometimes hidden – details of this Inca masterpiece. No one knows this better than Fabricio Ortiz, the president of the Association of Tourist Guides in Machu Picchu and full-time guide for Peru For Less.

Fabricio has guided Machu Picchu tours since 2007. With the Inca citadel as his office, among the breathtaking views, he has also gained the gift of perspective.

“I have found many face silhouettes in Machu Picchu during different times of the day when the shadows and lighting change,” says Ortiz. “There is almost nothing written about them, but I am sure that they are not just a coincidence.”

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_(Photo: Fabricio Ortiz)_

Ortiz explains that the Inca had a deep respect for natural figures which they incorporated into the structures they built.

Curiously, Machu Picchu offers more questions than answers. Why this mountain top citadel was built, what purpose it served, and why it was abandoned are questions that remain mysteries. The Inca, without any system of writing, left no written documentation.

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_(Photo: Peru For Less)_

Like the face silhouettes Ortiz has observed, many interesting details at Machu Picchu are not on clear display. “There are some places that people do not usually go. For example, the rock quarry sides. The Incas were great stoneworkers and left clear examples of how they used to work in the stone and break them apart.” He adds, “There are also sculptures, like one of a snake, in the rocks that normally no one sees.”

Spark up a conversation with Fabricio and it doesn’t take long to pick up that his Machu Picchu know-how goes far beyond what you’ll read on Wikipedia.

Here are his words of Machu Picchu wisdom:

When is the best time to visit Machu Picchu?

Ortiz says: ” Really anytime is a good time. Most people visit during the dry season, but the rainy season is nice too when the orchids bloom. I always advise two days to visit Machu Picchu. This way you can take a tour on the first day, and then have more time to explore at your own pace on the second day and maybe do one of the optional treks. The weather changes fast at Machu Picchu, and maximizing your time there increases your chances of getting the best conditions.”

Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain?

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_(Photo: Peru For Less)_

Ortiz says: “To tell you the truth, I must say “Machu Picchu Mountain”:http://www.peruforless.com/blog/climbing-the-old-mountain-tips-and-advice-for-hiking-machu-picchu-mountain/. There’s a much better panoramic view at the top of Machu Picchu Mountain and it takes just a little difference in time. At the top of Machu Picchu Mountain you look down on Huayna Picchu and when it’s clear you can even see snowcapped mountains in the distance.”

What do you suggest everyone carry in their daypack?

Ortiz says: “Don’t pack really warm clothes. Machu Picchu is about 1000 meters less than Cusco, and the water never freezes. You’ll be moving up and down the stairs a lot, so dressing in light clothing and layers is the best. I recommend bringing a raincoat or a plastic poncho when it rains because umbrellas can obstruct the views at Machu Picchu for other people.”

Tips for taking a good photograph at Machu Picchu

Ortiz says: “In the mornings, from about 7 to 8, and then 3 to 4 p.m. are usually the best times to take photos because of the lighting. The panoramic view from the Guardhouse is one of the nicest places, but it gets really crowded after the train arrives.”

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_Enjoying the top of Machu Picchu Mountain (Photo: Britt Fracolli)_

For Peru, Machu Picchu is a great source of national pride as well as a valuable tourist attraction. Learn more about these famous Inca ruins on our “travel blog”:http://www.peruforless.com/blog/, and then start planning your own adventure!

_Britt Fracolli is an editor and writer for Peru For Less. She is a travel enthusiast on a mission to explore the length and width of South America and always plotting out her next adventure. Interested in a trip to Peru? Contact_ “www.peruforless.com:”:http://www.peruforless.com/ _the Peru and Machu Picchu travel experts._

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