What is your dream destination for a walking holiday? Kathmandu? The Great Wall of China? Mount Kilimanjaro?
There are plenty of great places across the world to try out a new pair of hiking boots, but for me, Peru is the ultimate location to stretch my legs. Those of us who have been lucky enough to trek the colossal Inca Trail en route to Machu Picchu will understand why the great citadel remains a magical place and well worth the long stroll. It has been 100 years since Hiram Bingham made the scientific discovery of the Peruvian landmark – but the sense of achievement we get when we finally reach the ancient site can make us all feel every bit as proud as the great US explorer did back in 1911. In fact, many might argue that the Trail itself – right through the Andes Mountains – is every bit as exciting as stumbling across Machu Picchu.
But what is it that makes this part of Cusco so special for us adventurers? I often think of the difficulties that town planners face in the UK – tasked with setting up infrastructure to please everyone in the city on limited budgets. Whatever inconveniences modern day councillors in Manchester, Birmingham or London face, imagine how difficult it must have been for the Incans to set up an urban sprawl 2,430 metres above sea level with a mere fraction of the resources available to architects nowadays.
Thinking about how the natives managed to set up a community from scratch – especially in a place that provides such awe-inspiring views – really does send shivers down my spine.
It seems I am not alone in my love for the South American country either. The remnants of the manmade terraces, walls and ramps still attract visitors in their droves today and, in my opinion, Machu Picchu is rightly recognised as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.