Things to Know Before Your Trip to Machu Picchu
How to Get There:
If your primary intent of traveling to Peru is to see Machu Picchu, we recommend flying into Cusco. It is wise to account for one to two days spent in the city, to allow your body to acclimate to the elevation before your Machu Picchu tour. You can spend this time exploring the nearby ruins, Spanish colonial architecture and flourishing nightlife.How you get to the wondrous Machu Picchu ruins themselves, is a matter of preference and travel style.
Looking for the simplest route? There is a train line that runs directly from the city of Cusco. It makes a stop in the town of Ollantaytambo, which is home to its own Inca ruins including the Sun Temple and Princess Baths fountain. The ride then continues through picturesque mountain passes until you reach Machu Picchu Village, the end of the line. There are a few different train companies that operate on this line, which vary from budget to mid-range, and luxury cabins. The ride is gorgeous regardless of train used, but we usually recommend at least booking the mid-range Vistadome train in order to enjoy the larger windows. The vistas on the way are worth it!
Once you arrive at the foot of the mountain in Machu Picchu Village, you’ll either meet your Global Basecamps guide or head directly to the bus line of buses. These buses routinely shuttle tourists up the mountain to the archaeological site. Looking for a little more adventure? Skip the bus and walk the hour trek up the mountain along the ancient Inca Trail.
For the truly adventurous and dedicated, you can skip the modern transportation altogether and take the Inca Trail
, typically beginning in the Sacred Valley. If you intend to only trek the Inca Trail, the hike will take around five-days and provide you with some breath-taking views of the Andes. It’s worth noting that in order to preserve the trail, the Peruvian government regulates the number of people that are on the route at a time. Limited permits are sold everyday and are typically sold out months in advance every year.
When to Go:
Machu Picchu is open 7 days a week, every day of the year ( including holidays), so there really isn’t a time when you can’t visit. However, if you’re particular about clear blue skies or thinner crowds then you’ll want to take into consideration the time of year you’re traveling. May to October is the dry season, meaning less rain but more tourists and lines. If heavy mists and afternoon rains don’t offend you, then the rainy season ( November to March) is a good time to visit. The only thing to note is that the Inca Trail ( but not the archeological site) is closed for maintenance every February. Regardless of your preferences, if your heart is set on hiking the Inca Trail it is important that your start planning and booking well in advance. Permits for the whole year go on sale in January and often sell out fast. We recommend booking
at least 8-months out to ensure you get one of the limited spots.
Tips about the Trail:
While any trekking expedition comes with its share of risks, we hold our travelers’ safety as the highest priority. Luckily, the Peruvian government is on the same page. The Inca trail is heavily overseen by government appointment guards and tour operators are required to abide by strict safety protocols including carrying satellite phones and bringing oxygen tanks for altitude sickness.
There’s no need to “rough-it” during your time on the Inca Trail. While you will most likely be staying in tents some nights , you’ll find your camps equipped with shower, bathroom and dining tents and be served a chef prepared hot dinner at the end of your day of hiking. For those whose preferences air more on the side of glamping, we also offer a lodge-to-lodge Peru trek
which goes along the Salkantay and Lares routes and bypasses any sleeping on the ground.
Tips about the Archaeological Site: ( 2019 )
New entrance regulations have been put in place as of 2019. According to our great friends at Mountain Lodge of Peru:
Visitor tickets will now have a specified entry time every hour from 6am until 2pm that includes a two-hour cushion allowing for some flexibility. However, neither entry before the specified time nor late arrivals that surpass the two-hour window will be honored.
All visits will be limited to four (4) hours if touring the citadel, or six (6) hours if hiking Huayna Picchu and/or Machu Picchu Mountain are included in your Machu Picchu tour plans.
Access to Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain will be staggered differently:
- Machu Picchu Mountain: You will need to purchase tickets for entry to Machu Picchu at 6am, 7am, or 8am. For tickets marked 6am or 7am, entrance to the mountain will be granted at 7am, but will only be valid until 8am. Visitors with tickets marked 8am will have access to the mountain at 9am; these will only be valid until 10am.
- Huayna Picchu: You will need to purchase tickets for entry to Machu Picchu at 6am, 7am, or 8am. For tickets marked 6am or 7am, entrance to the mountain will be granted at 7am, but will only be valid until 8am. Visitors with tickets marked 8am will have access at 10:30am; these will only be valid until 11:30a. Availability permitting, MLP will purchase tickets for the 8am entry.
All visitors are required to visit Machu Picchu with a tour guide. If you plan to return the following day, the guide is not mandatory; however, you must show your ticket from the previous day.
Working together with an amazing company like Global Basecamps, it’s easy to explore Machu Picchu in a responsible manner on your next South America vacation. Our travel experts will work within your budget to come up with a price you can be comfortable with. Together you will discuss how you wish to arrive to Machu Picchu, whether it be hiking the Inca Trail or one of the alternative treks such as the lares or Salkantay, or more traditionally by train to Machu Picchu Pueblo (formerly known as Aguas Calientes). You will discuss guided tours of Pisac Market and Ollantaytambo Fortress, the Incan ruins that surround the city of Cusco, more adventurous activities such as mountain biking, kayaking, ziplining and whitewater rafting, or even perhaps time spent with local artisans. We can even help arrange your flights into Lima and Cusco and anywhere else in Peru you wish to visit. Come visit Machu Picchu, let it’s mysteries envelop you and it’s energy lift you into an ancient Inca world!
Beyond Machu Picchu
While we understand vacation time is often limited, but it’s important to note that Peru is so much more than a hike and a world heritage site. From the immense Lake Titicaca to the dense Amazon rainforest, Peru
has a plenitude to offer and is asking to be explored.