04 Sep What You Need to Know to Tour Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu, the “Lost City of the Incas” that sits majestically atop a mountain more than 8,000 feet high, is on many people’s bucket list for good reason. This spectacular set of ruins discovered in 1911 is equal parts mysterious and grandiose, inspiring millions to travel to Peru to stand in complete awe. If you plan to visit, here are a few things you should know:
When to Go – If you go in June through September, which is Peru’s dry season, you are likely to run into crowds and higher prices. During the rainy season, October through April, prices drop and lines grow shorter, but the weather is unpredictable.
Getting There – Most people base their journey in the colonial city of Cusco. From there, a four hour train ride is needed to arrive in Aguas Calientes, where you then hop on a bus for a 20-minute ride to Machu Picchu.
The Inca Trail – An alternative to taking the train/bus from Cusco is to hike the Inca Trail. At 26 miles, the trail requires four days and a high level of fitness. You will need to hire a guide and to purchase a permit to use the trail months in advance since they limit the number of hikers to lessen the environmental impact.
Altitude Adjustment – Upon arriving in Cusco, which is actually higher than Machu Picchu, give yourself at least two days to adjust to the altitude. During those two days, drink bottled water rather than alcohol and caffeine to acclimate more quickly.
Guides for Hire – Once you arrive at the Machu Picchu admission gate, you will see many guides holding homemade signs advertising their services. Some visitors know the ruins so well that a guide is not warranted, but if you do choose one, agree on the price and duration of the tour beforehand.
An Unforgettable Sunrise – Most visitors to Machu Picchu–close to 80%–are daytrippers crowding the site from 8am to 4pm. We recommend that you spend one night in Aguas Calientes in order to see one of the most amazing sites you will ever witness: the sun rising over the ruins. To do so, you will need to be in line before the gates open at 5am.
Tours – Several companies offer tours to Machu Picchu that include transportation, tickets, meals, accommodations and guides. If that sounds more appealing than getting there on your own, talk to your travel consultants (that’s us!) for details.