In about 1450 at the height of the Inca Empire this incredible fortress/city was built. it was abandoned about 100 years later as a result of the Spanish Conquest. In 1911, Hiram Bingham, a Yale professor of history, travelled to Peru and based upon recommendations from local people arrived at it. He returned again in 1912 - with funding from the National Geographic Society and a team with local labor did a lot of clearing of the overgrown site.
There is lots of controversy about its history and role made difficult because the Incas had no writing so there are no records. Bingham is sometimes slammed because people think he gets too much credit for the discovery - but it seems his effort with the National Geographic Society allowed it to be preserved (many other Inca ruins have been wrecked) and become an incredible tourist destination. I'd say just as Columbus discovered America, Hiram Bingham discovered Machu Picchu.
On the first day there it was sunny and clear; on the second day it was cloudy and misty which led to some pretty nice mountain scenes.
Click here for some pictures from our June trip
Coca leaves help one cope with altitude. Every place serves coca tea and you can chew the leaves.