Unveiling the Heights: Decoding the Mystery – Is Cusco Actually Higher than Machu Picchu?

Yes, Cusco is located at a higher altitude than Machu Picchu. Cusco sits at an elevation of about 3,400 meters (11,200 feet), while Machu Picchu is situated at approximately 2,430 meters (7,970 feet) above sea level.

Detailed response to your query

Yes, Cusco is located at a higher altitude than Machu Picchu. Cusco sits at an elevation of about 3,400 meters (11,200 feet), while Machu Picchu is situated at approximately 2,430 meters (7,970 feet) above sea level.

Famous explorer and author, Hiram Bingham, who rediscovered Machu Picchu in 1911, described the stunning view from the ancient citadel, “A grander scene than Machu Picchu itself is the broad expanse of the Santa Teresa Valley hundreds of feet below… I seemed to be looking across an immense canyon, into a country of snow-covered peaks.”

Here are some interesting facts about Cusco and Machu Picchu:


  1. Cusco was the historic capital of the Inca Empire and is renowned for its archaeological sites, Spanish colonial architecture, and vibrant culture.
  2. The city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for its rich history and preservation of Inca and Spanish colonial heritage.
  3. Cusco was originally built in the shape of a puma, a sacred animal in Inca mythology.
  4. The city is home to numerous impressive Inca ruins, including Sacsayhuaman, Qorikancha, and Tambomachay.
  5. Cusco serves as the starting point for many visitors embarking on a journey to Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu:

  1. Machu Picchu is often referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas” and is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world.
  2. The ancient city was built by the Inca civilization around the mid-15th century but was abandoned during the Spanish conquest and remained hidden until its rediscovery by Hiram Bingham.
  3. The site is divided into two main areas: the agricultural zone, with terraces for farming, and the urban zone, where temples, residences, and plazas were located.
  4. The Inti Watana stone, a unique carved rock at Machu Picchu, served as an astronomical observatory for the Incas, allowing them to accurately determine the solstices and equinoxes.
  5. Due to its architectural and historical significance, Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.
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While both Cusco and Machu Picchu offer incredible experiences and breathtaking views, the higher altitude of Cusco makes it a crucial stop for acclimatization before visiting Machu Picchu. The contrasting elevations between the two destinations not only create a mesmerizing journey but also impact the experiences and challenges faced by travelers. A table highlighting the altitude and key features of both Cusco and Machu Picchu can be found below:

| | Altitude (m) |

| Cusco | 3,400 |

| Machu Picchu | 2,430 |

In conclusion, Cusco is indeed higher than Machu Picchu, adding to the allure and distinctive characteristics of these remarkable destinations. As the late American historian Alfred A. Hahn beautifully described, “Cusco and Machu Picchu are timeless gateways to a fascinating world where ancient history seamlessly merges with breathtaking landscapes.”

Some more answers to your question

Since Cusco (just above 11,000 feet) sits at a higher altitude than Machu Picchu (nearly 8,000 feet), it’s recommended to travel down into the Sacred Valley (around 9,000 feet) after landing to acclimate at a less daunting altitude.

Climbing the stairs to your hotel room can sometimes feel like the last mile in a marathon in the first few days of your Peru trip particularly in Cusco which is at a higher altitude than say Machu Picchu or the Sacred Valley!

The elevation of Cusco is higher than Machu Picchu by about 3,180 feet (969 meters) so that change is quite dramatic.

The imperial city of Cusco has a height of 3,399 m.s., which is significantly higher than Machu Picchu.

Cusco is higher than MP and most of the sacred valley.

An interesting bit of information is that the Machu Picchu Hike put you at a lower elevation than in Cusco. The difference is by several hundred feet actually.

Answer in the video

In this video, Andy provides tips on how to prevent and treat altitude sickness in Peru, specifically in Cusco. He highlights that altitude sickness can affect anyone, regardless of fitness level, and suggests obtaining a prescription for Diamox from a doctor prior to traveling. Additionally, Andy recommends taking Sur ocean pills, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water, using oxygen shots, and consuming cocoa tea or candy. If symptoms worsen, he advises seeking medical assistance and descending to a lower altitude. Andy also advises eating light meals, avoiding alcohol and strenuous activities, and encourages travelers to visit Peru and embrace its beauty despite the challenges of altitude sickness.

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More interesting questions on the issue

Keeping this in consideration, Is Cusco the highest city in Peru? Response to this: Peru also has the highest major city in the world: La Rinconada’s 30,000 inhabitants live at an astonishing 16,728 feet above sea level! Cusco sits just lower than Bolivia’s La Paz, the world’s highest capital city at 11,975′.

Considering this, How bad is altitude sickness in Cusco?
This lack of oxygen, scientifically known as hypoxia, begins to manifest itself at 7,874 ft (2,399 m) above sea level. That’s why right after landing in Cusco, visitors can feel fatigued and have difficulty walking. Walking one block could feel like walking ten blocks carrying a backpack full of rocks.

Similarly one may ask, Is Cusco Peru high altitude? In reply to that: 11,152′Cusco / Elevation
Cusco is a city located in the Peruvian Andes at an altitude of 3,399 meters / 11,152 feet above sea level.

What is the most elevated city in Peru?
town of La Rinconada
Tucked away in the eastern Andes Mountains, about 5,000 meters (3 miles) above sea level, the town of La Rinconada is the highest permanent settlement in the world. The Peruvian town does not have running water, a sewage system, or garbage disposal.

In this way, How high is Machu Picchu? The response is: If you pay attention to a Machu Picchu map, you will see that the archeological complex of Machu Picchu stands at an elevation of 7,972 feet high. This means that it is located about, 2430 meters above sea level. The altitude of the Inca citadel does not compare with that of the city of Cusco, which is at a much higher altitude.

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People also ask, Is the Sacred Valley higher than Machu Picchu?
Response: In general, though, the Sacred Valley is 1,542 feet (470 meters) higher in elevation than Machu Picchu. We usually recommend coming to the Sacred Valley to do the initial acclimatization period since it is lower in elevation than Cusco.

Also, How to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu? Response: The easiest and most popular way to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu is by taking a train directly from Cusco to Aguas Calientes (which stops in Ollantaytambo along the way). This direct train route is offered by both PeruRail and IncaRail and takes about 4 hours one way.

Just so, How high is Cusco Peru?
Answer to this: The symptoms you might experience while in the city, how to prevent sickness under the Cusco elevation, and ways we can get over any negative symptoms. What is The Altitude of Cusco Peru? The Elevation in Cusco is 11,151.5 feet above sea level, which’s 3,399 meters above sea level for our metric system users.

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