We give you the information to plan your trip to Machu Picchu, and the possible options. We tell you what we saw in the Inca city.
A wonder of the world, a monument that will leave you speechless: Machu Picchu. When you know that you will travel to Peru, you already know that making a trip to Machu Picchu will be almost mandatory. Surely doubts assail you, how to organize the visit to Machu Picchu? What things should I take into account? How to get there? Here we are going to put the cards on the table so that you can visit this wonder of the world and say WOW.
- How to get to Machu Picchu?
- Buying entrance tickets to Machu Picchu
- Visiting the mountains
- About Machu Picchu
- Our visit to the Archaeological Site of Machu Picchu
We made the visit to Machu Picchu in 2015 and many things have changed since then, not in the monument itself, but in the entry rules. All the practical information that we leave you below is updated. In fact, we emphasize some of the differences that we had in our time.
That day we went with great enthusiasm to meet this beautiful archaeological site, but we were attacked by a horrible stomach ache. Oh well, as you will see, a trip to Machu Picchu requires a lot of organization and no matter what, we could not postpone it. So even with that we went to visit it.
How to get to Machu Picchu?
One of the most famous routes to walk to Machu Picchu from Cusco is the Camino Inca. It is a 4-day trek in which the almost 40 kilometers of distance between the two places are covered.
Places on this tour are limited and must be booked in advance.
Here you can hire the 4-day tour from Cusco or if you don’t have much time, but still want to do the trekking, you can hire the 2-day tour from Ollantaytambo.
There is also the option of taking an organized tour that takes you from Cusco and already includes everything, the arrival at Machu Picchu, the guided tour and the entrance fee. It is a valid option in case you have little time for your trip to Peru and also do not want to buy the tickets on your own, since this package includes everything. You can hire it here.
The disadvantage of this option is that the time in the monument is short, only during the morning and something like two and a half – three hours. But well, it will depend on the situation of each person and it is better to know that this option exists.
Either from Cusco or from Ollantaytambo, you can get to Machu Picchu by train, well, actually you get to Aguascalientes (the closest town to the monument). The two companies that carry out the route are Perurail or Inca rail. We contracted it with Perurail.
There are different schedules and train options, the price changes depending on how luxurious the train is. The one we had had part of the roof with glass so you could see the sky.
The other option is to arrive by train to Aguascalientes a day before and sleep there, to get to Machu Picchu very early in the morning.
Once you get to Aguascalientes by train, you have to take a bus to get to the site, or you can walk (travel between 1:30 – 2 hours). Given our state we did not even consider that possibility, the bad thing is that it meant to make the long, slow line to buy tickets, oh well.
The price of the bus is 24 dollars round trip, the journey lasts half an hour.
If you have the possibility to buy the tickets before, I recommend it, that way you skip that line. They can be purchased on the page of the only provider that is consettur. (if only I had known before XD )
Buying entrance tickets to Machu Picchu
Tickets must be purchased well in advance, they can be purchased online. If you hire an all-inclusive tour, the tickets will already be purchased.
VERY IMPORTANT: Don’t forget to bring your passport, which has to be the same one you used to book the tickets!
Visiting hours: they must be chosen when purchasing the ticket. You can only stay 4 hours on the site and here are the times to choose from:
|1||6 AM||10 AM|
|2||7 AM||11 AM|
|3||8 AM||12 PM|
|4||9 AM||1 PM|
|5||10 AM||2 PM|
|6||11 AM||3 PM|
|7||12 PM||4 PM|
|8||1 PM||5 PM|
|9||2 PM||5: 30 PM|
I have to say that this was not the case when we visited, our ticket allowed us to stay all day and in fact we could go out to eat and go back in. You could re-enter up to two times on the same day.
Cost: 152 soles. You can buy the ticket directly on the page of the Peruvian government here.
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Can you visit Machu Picchu without a guide?
When we visited the site it was possible not to take a guide, although in reality the little information given on the site made it necessary. Given our state, we preferred not to take it, since we did not feel like keeping up with the pace.
BUT ALL THAT HAS CHANGED. Nowadays you DO have to have a guide, basically they will not let you enter the site if you don’t bring a guide with you (or are part of a group of a guide).
The visit to Machu Picchu has become much more restrictive, true, but all this responds to the fact that the site was degrading and was about to be placed on the list of “endangered monuments” by UNESCO.
Visiting the mountains
In addition to visiting the site, there are two types of tickets that include a visit to the Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu mountains. Like the tickets to the site, they have defined hours, but more extensive since you have to go up and down the mountain, you have to choose which one when buying the ticket.
We didn’t climb either of the two mountains, and it’s a good thing I didn’t buy it since we couldn’t have done it, but here’s the information.
Climb Huayna Picchu
This is the mountain that is seen in all the postcard photos of Machu Picchu, it is said that the climb is somewhat difficult and proof of this is that children under 12 are not allowed. A point to consider for those traveling as a family, it is also not recommended for people who are afraid of heights. Another thing to take into account is what landscape you want to see. Going up this mountain you can see the Temple of the Moon.
You can hire here the complete excursion from Cusco: Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu
Visiting hours: they must be chosen when purchasing the ticket. You can only stay 7 hours on the site and here are the hours to choose from:
|1||6 AM||Entre 7 AM y 8 AM||1 PM|
|2||7 AM||Entre 7 AM y 8 AM||2 PM|
|3||8 AM||Entre 10:30 AM|
y 11:30 AM
Climb the Machu Picchu mountain
From this mountain you can see the classic landscape with Huayna Picchu in the background. This climb is allowed for children and is recommended for families and people who do not have an excellent physical condition.
You can hire the complete excursion from Cusco here: Machu Picchu + Montaña
Visiting hours: must be chosen when buying the ticket. You can only stay 8 hours on the site and here are the times to choose from:
|1||6 AM||Entre 7 AM y 8 AM||2 PM|
|2||7 AM||Entre 7 AM y 8 AM||3 PM|
|3||8 AM||Entre 9 AM|
y 10 AM
It is by no means a coincidence that Machu Picchu is located among these enormous mountains. Keep in mind that the Incas worshiped the mountains, which they considered sacred.
About Machu Picchu
It was a llaqta built before the fifteenth century at 2430 meters above sea level. According to many scholars, its original name would have been Llaqtapata.
It is still not very clear if its use was mainly religious or palatial, there are even those who lean towards the military. It is still not entirely clear and the place is still being studied. What everyone agrees on is that it is a marvel of Inca engineering.
Llaqta is a term that defines the ancient towns of the Central Andes, especially those that functioned as administrative centers during the Inca Empire.
The origin of the Machu Picchu name
In the Quechua language, its name means “old mountain”. In fact Huayna Picchu means “new mountain”.
In 1983 Machu Picchu was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. And in 2007 it was recognized as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Our visit to the Archaeological Site of Machu Picchu
Postcard photos and the guardian’s house
After the tortuous double queue to catch the bus and arriving at the crowded entrance, I was really beginning to wonder if it was worth it. Quickly the doubt was dispelled when having the first vision, in person, of the postcard photo of Machu Picchu. Of course, that vision had to be shared with a lot of other people crowded on the terraces who were also making the trip to Machu Picchu that day.
We headed towards the guardian’s house, and there we began to notice how things were made for us to hire a guide: really no information about the places. For example, in Chichén Itzá (and in almost all the archaeological sites in Mexico) there are information panels of the INAH.
Although that no longer matters so much: now it is mandatory to enter with a guide.
And in a lucky moment we took advantage of the fact that the space had been freed up, and we took more photos, well Vincent had to act as a photographer, these were the ones that I liked the most (although remember, with an uncomfortable stomach I didn’t have much inspiration either, this was what came out).
The llamas of Machu Picchu
On the site you can see several llamas in freedom, they come and go where they want. Needless to say, all visitors rush to take photos of them, including me.
If you want to see more about the llamas of Machu Picchu here we made a gallery.
If you like llamas, and you want to take a picture with them, just pay attention to the signs to know if they are about to spit on you, because if that happens you are bothering them. They generally allow you to approach them, but you have to be patient and calm. Here I managed to take two “llama selfies“.
Touring the Inca city
And so we walked the llaqta calmly, there was a marked path and when we finished the tour it was already noon so we went out to eat. At that time it was possible, in fact the ticket we had purchased had the food included in the restaurant.
At that moment we saw how most of the people who were on the site left. They lined up to catch the bus back. And we entered again, what happiness, there were much fewer people on the site. A really happy moment in this trip to Machu Picchu. I was starting to feel good in my stomach so I had more energy, but Vincent was still feeling bad, so we chose a strategic place where he sat down and I was going to take photos of the walls, the landscapes and, of course, the llamas . In that we met a nice Argentine family, we talked for a long time.
I have to say that if we had only made the trip to Machu Picchu in the morning, yes, we would have said how beautiful it is. But we would have been missing something, in the morning we felt the wholesale massification. In the afternoon, on the other hand, you felt a different vibe, not so crowded, and you could enjoy the place much more. Now with the duration restriction, I don’t know how the situation is, I hope it has improved and that such a pleasant afternoon vibe exists all day.
When it was almost closing time, we left the place. Of course, without forgetting to stamp the passport. A memorable stamp, for a memorable trip. At the entrance they have the seal of Machu Picchu that can be stamped.
The end of our trip to Machu Picchu
But, before we left, I couldn’t help but use my last ticket (you could re-enter twice) to get one last look at the scenery. Now there was practically no one. And I took one last farewell photo of this trip to Machu Picchu that I will never forget (despite the stomach pain).
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