Carretera al Machu Picchu

The road to Machu Picchu is pure adventure

Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca site at an elevation of 2.430m (7,970ft) above the sea level, located in the Urubamba Province of Peru.

Can you drive to Machu Picchu?

The road to the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu is totally unpaved. It’s called Carretera a Machu Picchu, also known as Hiram Bingham Highway. The road is dedicated to Hiram Bingham (November 19, 1875 – June 6, 1956), who was a Hawaiian-born American academic, explorer, treasure hunter and politician. The zigzag road, which carries tourist buses to the site from the Urubamba River, is only authorized for allowed vehicles. The road was inaugurated in October 1948 and today it is nearing risk of collapse due to deterioration.

How long is the road to Machu Picchu?

Set high in the Eastern Cordillera of Peru, the road is 8,9km (5.53 miles) long starting at Aguas Calientes (Spanish for "hot water" or "hot springs"), sometimes referred to as Machupicchu Town. There are many hotels and restaurants for tourists, as well as natural hot baths, which give the town its name. The baths were destroyed by floods many years ago, but have been rebuilt.

Is the road to Machu Picchu challenging?

Tucked away on the southern part of the country, the road is pretty challenging made up entirely of 14 switchbacks, very narrow and steep, hitting a 27% of maximum gradient through some of the ramps. Not for the faint of heart. At some points, when 2 buses meet, they have to stop and reverse partway up the hill (on the ‘outside lane’ to get to a spot wide enough for the two buses to pass (barely) one another. The hairy road will make you give a sigh of relief for having survived the drive when you get to the road end. On its route it crosses a bridge over the Vilcanota River.