Machu Picchu is the most important tourist destination in Peru and South America. There is no other place that combines the history, nature and magic that is breathed there.
The experience is incredible: arriving in Cusco, traveling by train surrounded by mountains, sleeping at the foot of Machu Picchu, touring the citadel, climb to Huayna Picchu…
Do not hesitate, prepare your trip to Machu Picchu and keep in mind the following tips:
- Date for travel. The best date is between May and August, which corresponds to the dry season (it rains a lot less). When we do not recommend going is from December to March, the fog and rains are quite intense at that time.
- What clothes to bring? Comfortable clothes to walk and visit the citadel and Huayna Picchu. We also recommend wearing a sun hat and a good raincoat. The mosquito repellent is also recommended. Although it is not a zone of deep jungle, there is enough vegetation. And do not worry about diseases, it’s not a dangerous zone.
- Entrance to Machu Picchu. There is a daily quota of 3,267 visitors to Machu Picchu, 400 in the case of the visit to Huayna Picchu. That’s why we recommend you buy the tickets online well in advance. On the website you can choose the time and type of entry you prefer:
- Citadel: You can only visit the ruins of Machu Picchu and the area of the agricultural terraces.
- Citadel + mountain: It includes the visit to the ruins of Machu Picchu, the agricultural terraces and climb to the mountain of Machu Picchu, from where you can take photos from more height (600 meters above the citadel).
- Citadel + Huayna Picchu: You can visit the ruins of Machu Picchu, the agricultural terraces and you can climb Huayna Picchu mountain.
- Machu Picchu + museum: Includes a visit to the citadel, the agricultural terraces and the “Manuel Chávez Ballón” Site Museum (1.7 km from Aguascalientes), where you can see archaeological remains of Inca culture.
There you can hire the guide to explain the place. Another option is to hire the tour with an agency and she will take care of everything (they have quite an availability of tickets).
- Arrive to Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu can only be reached from Cusco by the Inca Trail, hiring the route with a local agency, or by train, through one of the 2 train companies that cover the route: PeruRail or Inca Rail. In both you have several types of trains to choose from. In the case of PeruRail: Expedition, Vistadome and the luxury train Hiram Bingham. With Inca Rail: Presidential, first class and executive.
Our recommendation is to go by bus or van to Ollantaytambo, visit the archaeological site and continue by train to Aguascalientes, a village at the foot of Machu Picchu, where we spend the night. From there to Machu Picchu you can take the bus or walk (although it is quite tired).
- Inca trail. If you prefer a different visit, with more adventure, you can reach Machu Picchu by the Inca Trail (used in antiquity). There are several options, each with different days and tours. We did the one-day variant. We left Cusco very early, got off the train before arriving in Aguascalientes and traveled the trail during the day, arriving in Machu Picchu in the afternoon. We were able to take some photos, without tourists being closed to the public, and we went down to Aguascalientes to rest. Next day we visited the citadel of Machu Picchu. If you opt for this option you should hire an agency with guarantees, not all are very formal.
- Visiting hours. The first shift starts at 07:00. It is advisable to enter at that time for two reasons: fewer tourists and to have more chance of good weather. As the morning passes the weather can become more unstable.
The ride from Aguascalientes is short, 20 minutes, and there is quite a lot of buses, so do not worry too much about the queues.
- Huayna Picchu. In order to climb this mountain you have to buy the entrance that includes the visit to the citadel and Huayna Picchu. There are only 400 seats per day: 2 shifts of 200 each (07:00 to 08:00 and 10:00 to 11:00). The views from the highest point of Huayna Picchu are impressive, but keep in mind that the climb is a bit tired and you should not suffer from vertigo (there are vertical falls at the edge of the trail).
- Altitude sickness (soroche in Quechua). It is a set of annoyances due to the lower density of the air. It produces tiredness, headache and some difficulty breathing until the body acclimatizes itself to the height. In the case of Cusco, which is at 3,400 meters above sea level, you may be affected by something (it depends a lot on each person) but in Machu Picchu, you will not have a problem (it is at 2,438 masl). If you get annoyed, take paracetamol or the soroche pills that sell there (basically paracetamol).
- Cusco and its Archaeological sites. While Machu Picchu is the biggest attraction in Peru, you must also visit the city of Cusco and its impressive archaeological sites.
- Ollantaytambo. A village and archeological site located 90 km from Cusco. In addition to different buildings (fortress, fountains, terraces, and tanks) it has good views of the sacred valley.
- Sacsayhuaman. Fortress formed by stones of impressive sizes. It is located 2 km from the city.
- Qoricancha. Ancient Inca temple that was partially reconverted in the convent of Santo Domingo.
- Tambomachay. Archaeological site, located 10 km from Cusco, which served mainly for the worship of water.
- Pisac. Village and archeological site located 30 km from Cusco. You can visit the remains of temples and observe the agricultural terraces.
- Moray. Archaeological site located 50 km from Cusco. It stands out for its agricultural terraces. It is located near the village of Maras, famous for its salt mines(pink salt of Maras).
- PukaPukara. Archaeological remains of a military fortress that defended the city of Cusco (located 10 km).
- Qenqo. Archaeological site located 6 km from Cusco. It is a monument in the form of an amphitheater, which includes tunnels and underground altar, whose exact meaning is unknown until today.
- Chinchero. Small village that is located 30 km from Cusco. It has archaeological remains of an Inca temple and a church from the colonial era.
To enter these archaeological sites you need the tourist ticket, which can be purchased in Cusco in the tourist information office (Avenue Sol No. 103 Office 102) or in authorized agencies.
- Other trips nearby. In addition to visiting Cusco, you can continue your journey through southern Peru.
- At 6:30 hours by bus you have the city of Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca . You can also arrive by plane to Juliaca (1 hour) and from there, take a van to Punto (about 50-60 minutes).
- Puerto Maldonado, in the jungle of Madre de Dios, is 50-60 minutes by plane.
- Arequipa, the second city of the country, is located at 5:30 hours from Puno by bus. There you can visit both the city and the Colca Canyon.
Also, plan your trip through Peru with our configurator and do not miss other must-see places.
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