Things to Know Before Visiting Machu Picchu

Getting There

If you're looking for the cheapest route to Machu Picchu, you'll have to go by car until the Hydroelectric Station, and then walk the last couple of hours. (Click the link for more details.) Don't choose this route if arriving in Cusco a day late would upset your plans- it's only appropriate for those with flexible itineraries.

The Inca Trail, Salkantay, and Lares are the best routes to Machu Picchu for hiking enthusiasts, although adrenaline seekers will prefer the Inca Jungle Trek because it involves downhill biking, hiking along Inca trails, optional rafting, and ziplining. The Inca Trail has daily departures but sells out far in advance, while most other trails depart only when a large enough group is assembled.

If you're going by train, limit yourself to a small bag with a change of clothes, your toiletries, and some snacks so as not to run afoul of the weight limits. (Cusco's hotels and hostels allow travelers to store luggage during their excursions to Machu Picchu. This is usually included at no extra cost.)

Once your dates are settled, buy your tickets in advance, especially if you hope to climb Huayna Picchu for a view overlooking the citadel. Remember that November through March is the rainy season, with short but frequent rains. You can get great discounts during this time, despite the foggy views, but be sure to bring a poncho.

If you're one of those people that longs to see a world-famous site without anyone else around to obstruct your views and photos, consider your schedule carefully. Everyone says to leave as early as possible to avoid the crowds, but the crowds themselves leave as early as possible. The bus station is mobbed just before the first bus from Agusa Calientes leaves at 5:30am, and plenty of people have set out on foot before then. Everyone wants to see Machu Picchu when first light hits, and yes, it's worth it. However, the lunchtime lull is when Machu Picchu truly depopulates. If you can resist the urge to return to Aguas Calientes early for lunch, you'll have the place to yourself.

At Machu Picchu

A guided tour in Machu Picchu only lasts two hours, which means that you can enjoy the guide's insight and still have plenty of time to take photos and do your own thing. If you arrived at Machu Picchu independently, you can still arrange for a guided tour at the park itself by asking guides how much it would cost to join their group.

Bring some snacks and water to the ruins with you, even if told that it isn't permitted. The early morning wakeup, altitude, and hiking up Huayna Picchu tend to combine to make some people feel faint. As long as you leave no refuse behind, you'll be able to keep your sugar up without adversely affecting the site in any way.

Inca World Team
Publication date: 11 Set 2014
Sources: <a href="">Carla Colon</a>

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