Going to Peru is one of the most unforgettable experiences you can have travelling in South America, largely because you are able to go on a Machu Picchu trip. However, there are other ruins to see here, such as Espiritu Pampa - the true final outpost of the Incas.
Luckily, you don't have to choose between them when you decide to go trekking in Peru, as there are tours available that will lead you past both historic sites, so you can enjoy the two of them. However, when Machu Picchu is known the world over, why are so few people familiar with Espiritu Pampa?
Also known as Vilcabamba - Lost City of the Inca - this spot was the final safe haven of the ancient South American empire, before the civilisation finally toppled to the Spanish settlers. Once the Incan settlement had fallen, it was burnt to the ground and little by little became a forgotten page of history.
That is, until US explorer Hiram Bingham rediscovered the legendary kingdom in 1911 and rejuvenated interest in it with his book on the subject. However, even he did not appear to realise just how significant the patch of jungle peppered with carved walls and bridges he was exploring was, perhaps as his attention was so captured by neighbouring Machu Picchu, which he believed was the Lost City. It was not until many years later that other scholars confirmed Espiritu Pampa was Vilcabamba, the last true city of Incas.
Yet so few people visit the site, or have even heard of it. However, you can reverse this trend by calling in there during your time trekking in Peru. You will begin the experience in Cusco, where you can warm up your legs with a walking tour that allows you to get a taste of the vibrant culture the city is known for. Make sure you sample plenty of tasty treats like cuy - a roasted guinea pig.
Next, you will set off on your journey to the Sacred Valley in earnest, and reaching Machu Picchu is certain to be one of the highpoints. This citadel is a place of myth and legend. Although it is one of the best-preserved examples of an Incan settlement, very little is known about it. Perhaps the greatest mystery is why it was abandoned so hastily, with such little evidence of the cause of this flight. The fact that its inhabitants vanished just 100 years after it was built in 1450 only adds to the legend.
While your time here will undoubtedly be among the most memorable moments of your trip to Peru, there is still much more to see, not least the stunning natural surroundings. You will make your way deep into the Amazon Rainforest, one of the most diverse and important ecosystems on the planet, where you will be dazzled by new flora and fauna at almost every turn.
Deep in the jungle lies Espiritu Pampa, but it really couldn't look more different to Machu Picchu. Perhaps it is because it was burnt down and then reclaimed by the jungle that it took so long for explorers to realise the true significance of Vilcabamba as being the Lost City of the Incas. You could take a full day to explore it and will camp overnight so you'll have plenty of time to uncover some of the ancient ruins hidden under the greenery.
As you make your way down the final stretch of the trail, you may almost feel like Tupac Amaru as he fled from this final outpost. He was the last ruling Inca to be captured by the Spanish invaders before this once glorious empire was lost for good.