For many travelers who visit Peru, the main goal is to see the mighty Machu Picchu. So it was for us! Of course, there are many more things to do in Peru but these Inca ruins are a must see for everyone. To make your visit more pleasant you should be familiar with these 10 things to know before you go to Machu Picchu. Let’s dive in!
10 Things to Know Before You Go to Machu Picchu
Altitude sickness is the thing no one wants to experience. But don’t worry, the altitude at Machu Picchu is not so bad, especially after Cusco. To compare, Machu Picchu is at 2430 m above the sea level while Cusco is at 3399 m. Since you have to go through Cusco to get to Machu Picchu, you will already know how your body reacts to the altitude. The main thing to remember, if you are not feeling well – climb-down and take it slow!
There are several ways of getting to Machu Picchu. If you have planned plenty of time for this visit, you can hike the Inca Trail, which for many travelers is the dream to do in South America. It takes 4 days, costs about 650$ (560 EUR) and needs to be booked a few months ahead, so you must plan your visit carefully. You can find more information about available dates and prices here.
Faster and cheaper is to take a train. There are various choices to choose from. We took a colectivo from Cusco to Ollantaytambo and then a train to Aguas Calientes. Unfortunately, you won’t get so many memorable emotions as hiking all the Inca Trail, but the train ride is also very picturesque. All the information about the ticket prices and train schedule is here.
If you still want to experience a part of the Inca Trail, you can do a one day hike. In this case, take the train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes but disembark about 30 minutes before Aguas Calientes. You will end up a bit in a middle of nowhere at the stop KM 104. From there the hike will take about 5-8 hours. Prepare yourself for some steep climbs and tight curves, but it will be worth it. And don’t forget about the water! Stay hydrated, guys!
Aguas Calientes – Plan at Least 2 Days
To feel the real Inca life, don’t be in a rush. When reaching Aguas Calientes, we recommend planning at least 2 days there. Spend the first day wandering around the Machu Picchu Pueblo, sip that pisco sour, eat a delicious meal and just rest. You will need to be fresh and rested for the coming Machu Picchu visit.
Aguas Calientes is a little valley that consists of hotels, guest houses, cafes, and restaurants. That’s why it won’t be a problem finding an accommodation there. It all depends on the budget and wishes. You can book ahead a room through Booking.com or you can find a room on the spot, as we did.
Our favorite places to stay are:
Only $26 for a twin room in a clean, neat hotel in a great location. You can ask for a breakfast to go for your Machu Picchu hike! Great Budget deal!
Brand new, sparkling clean hotel with included breakfast for only $40 a night for a double room! This is an amazing budget option, if you want to have a bit more comfort but still stick to the budget.
Beautiful mountain and river views for less than $90 a night and an amazing breakfast included in the price. The beds are extremely comfy and the water pressure will make your day! Great mid-range option!
You can’t think about 10 things to know before you go to Machu Picchu without considering the entrance tickets. Prices vary from 41$ to 86$ (35 – 74 EUR) depending on the extras ticket includes. For the full price list check this page. Our advice is to take the Machu Picchu + Mountain ticket, as you will have the chance to climb the Machu Picchu mountain and see the Inca ruins like you would be looking at the dollhouse. If you choose to do so, climb the mountain first and then explore the ruins. Also, we recommend buying the ticket in advance, we bought ours on the previous day at the ticket office in Aguas Calientes.
When to Go Up?
Early morning is the best time to visit Machu Picchu, trust us! Even if it means you have to get up at night. Machu Picchu opens at 6 am and you have to be there on that time, you have to see that sunrise! We woke up at 4 am, had some quick coffee and sandwich on the go (nice ladies are selling some takeaway breakfast on the way to crazy hikers like us) and felt ready to climb that mighty mountain.
How to Go Up?
There are 2 ways how to get up to the Inca ruins. You can take a bus from Aguas Calientes until the entrance or you can hike up. Bus ticket for an adult costs 24$ (20 EUR) both ways. Hike costs nothing, takes about an hour and gives you a great workout and the views. If you are fit enough, definitely choose to go up on yourself.
Bring Plenty of Water
Another important point to keep in mind within 10 things to know before you go to Machu Picchu is water. Especially for those who decide to go up without using the bus. You don’t want to get dehydrated and exhausted before even entering Machu Picchu, right? Of course, there are some vendors who offer water but it costs much more than in a regular shop. So, be prepared, bring water.
Use a Bathroom
This may sound a bit silly but it’s actually a very important tip. There are no bathrooms beyond the ones at the main entrance. So, do not hesitate to wait in that queue to “do your stuff” before entering the Machu Picchu.
Think About the Clothes
Keep in mind the outside temperature differences at 4 am and 11 am. When leaving your guest house, it will be cold outside, but later on, the sun will warm you up. Linda’s recommendation – wear some shorts underneath the sweatpants and you are good to go! Keep in mind that it’s always easier to take something off than put on that damn hoodie which you left on your bed. And yes, you should also keep this in mind when thinking about 10 things to know before to go to Machu Picchu.
Related: 25 Best Travel Accessories!
Great hiking gear we love:
Every day 2500 people visit Machu Picchu and if you want to be one of them keep in mind these tips and your visit will be unforgettable. No doubt that Peru and Machu Picchu should be on every traveler’s list. Who doesn’t want to finally see this mighty Wonder of the World?! So, just read these 10 things to know before you go to Machu Picchu, make some notes, book your tickets and go – Machu Picchu is waiting for you!