Always near the top of any list of top adventure travel destinations is "The Lost City of the Incas," Machu Picchu. An important and extraordinary archaeological site, Machu Picchu was discovered in a search through dense Peruvian jungle by Hiram Bingham in 1911.
There is still debate as to whether Machu Picchu was built as a ceremonial center, astral observatory, or a military citadel. The site's purpose today is clear, however, with several thousand tourists each day exploring the ruins. Most make their way by rail from Cusco to the town of Aguas Calientes (where the majority of the accommodations are situated), and take a short bus ride to the ruins.
Many visit the ruins for just a day, but spending two nights here allows you to delve deeper into the ruins when there are fewer visitors (in the morning) and to explore day hikes in the area.
You can stay at the exclusive Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, which is the only hotel adjacent to Machu Picchu ruins, or you can spend the night in one of the many hotels in Aguas Calientes.
For the especially adventurous, a multi-day hike on the Inca Trail is the defining experience for travel to the site. This remarkable trek past Inca ruins, through cloud forests, and dramatic mountain scenery takes 2 or 4 days to complete depending on the departure point, ideally timed to arrive at Machu Picchu for a truly memorable sunrise.
The altitude has a significant effect on many who do this trek, so allow time to acclimatize and enjoy Cusco. It also helps if you're physically fit and willing to camp along the way.