Machu Picchu, one of the most iconic and popular tourist destinations in the world, attracts thousands of visitors each year. This ancient Incan site located in the Andes Mountains of Peru offers breathtaking views, stunning architecture, and a rich history that dates back to the 15th century. However, before you embark on your journey to Machu Picchu, there are a few important things you should know to make the most of your visit. In this article, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide on things to know before visiting Machu Picchu, including tips on the best time to visit, how to get there, what to wear and pack, regulations and restrictions, and much more.
1. Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu
The best time to visit Machu Picchu is during the dry season, which runs from May to September. During this time, you can expect clear skies and mild temperatures, making it the perfect time to explore the ruins. However, keep in mind that this is also the busiest time of year, so be sure to book your tickets and accommodations well in advance.
2. How to Get to Machu Picchu
To get to Machu Picchu, you have several transportation options to choose from. The most popular option is to take a train from Cusco or the nearby town of Ollantaytambo. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Cusco to Hidroelectrica and then hike the rest of the way to Machu Picchu. For those who are up for a challenge, you can also hike the Inca Trail or one of the other trails that lead to Machu Picchu.
3. Machu Picchu Entrance Tickets
To visit Machu Picchu, you need to buy a ticket in advance. You can buy tickets online through the official government website or in person in Cusco or Aguas Calientes. It’s important to note that there are different types of tickets, including morning and afternoon tickets, as well as tickets for different parts of the site.
It’s recommended to book tickets in advance, especially if you plan to visit during peak season (June to August). Tickets can sell out quickly, and you don’t want to miss out on the chance to see this incredible site.
4. Machu Picchu Regulations and Restrictions
When visiting Machu Picchu, there are several regulations that visitors should be aware of. Smoking, drones, and plastic water bottles are not allowed on the site. It’s also important to bring your passport or another form of identification, as it will be checked when you enter the site.
Additionally, you must stay on designated paths and not touch any of the ancient ruins. This helps to preserve the site for future generations and ensure that it remains a sustainable tourist destination.
Machu Picchu 2 day Tour
5. What to Wear and Pack for Machu Picchu
When visiting Machu Picchu, it’s important to wear comfortable and sturdy shoes, as there will be a lot of walking and hiking involved. You should also bring plenty of water, sunscreen, a hat, and insect repellent.
Layered clothing is also recommended, as the weather can change quickly at high altitudes. A rain jacket or poncho is also a good idea, as it can rain at any time of year.
- Comfortable hiking shoes with good traction
- Lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing for hiking
- Warm layers for the cool mornings and evenings
- Rain jacket or poncho
- Sun hat or beanie to protect from the sun and wind
- Daypack to carry essentials
- Refillable water bottle
- Insect repellent
- Personal medication, if needed
- Snacks, such as energy bars or fruit
- Camera or phone with camera
- Portable charger for electronics
- Binoculars for bird watching or viewing the site from a distance
- Travel pillow for the train or bus ride to Machu Picchu
6. Altitude Sickness at Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is located at a high altitude, which can cause altitude sickness in some visitors. It’s important to acclimate to the altitude by spending a few days in Cusco or another high-altitude location before visiting Machu Picchu.
If you do experience altitude sickness, it’s important to rest and drink plenty of water. Coca tea is also a popular remedy for altitude sickness in Peru. However, if your symptoms are severe or don’t improve, you should seek medical attention immediately.
7. Guided Tours vs. Independent Visits
When visiting Machu Picchu, you have the option to explore the site on your own or with a guided tour. Both options have their pros and cons.
Guided tours can provide valuable information about the site’s history and cultural significance, and can help you navigate the site more easily. However, they can also be more expensive and may limit your flexibility in terms of when and where you can go.
Independent visits allow you to explore the site at your own pace and on your own schedule. However, you may miss out on some of the site’s history and significance without a guide.
8. Machu Picchu Photography Tips
Machu Picchu is an incredibly photogenic site, but it can also be challenging to capture the perfect shot. It’s recommended to bring a wide-angle lens to capture the expansive views, as well as a tripod for stability.
It’s also important to take advantage of the early morning or late afternoon light, which can provide a warm, golden glow to the site. Finally, be respectful of other visitors and try not to block their views or disrupt their experience for the sake of a photo.
9. Tips for Visiting Machu Picchu
Visiting Machu Picchu requires some preparation and planning to make the most of your experience. Here are some tips to help you:
- Bring cash: While credit cards are accepted at some locations, it’s best to bring cash for small purchases such as snacks, souvenirs, and bathroom fees.
- Hire a guide: A knowledgeable guide can enhance your experience by providing historical and cultural context for the site. If you don’t speak Spanish, consider hiring an English-speaking guide.
- Stay hydrated: It’s essential to stay hydrated while at high altitude, so bring a refillable water bottle and drink plenty of water.
- Take breaks: The site is extensive and requires a lot of walking, so take breaks when needed. There are benches throughout the site where you can sit and rest.
- Bring sunscreen and a hat: The sun at high altitude can be intense, so protect your skin and eyes by wearing sunscreen and a hat.
- Use the restroom before entering: There are no bathrooms inside the site, so make sure to use the restroom before entering.
This tips are the best things to know before visiting Machu Picchu.
10. Other Sites to Visit Around Machu Picchu
While Machu Picchu is undoubtedly the highlight of any trip to the region, there are other fascinating sites and activities to explore. Here are a few examples:
- The Sacred Valley: The valley, located between Cusco and Machu Picchu, is home to several small towns and archaeological sites, including Pisac and Ollantaytambo.
- Inca Trail: The four-day Inca Trail trek is a popular way to reach Machu Picchu. The trail passes through stunning Andean scenery and ancient Incan ruins.
- Huayna Picchu: The mountain overlooking Machu Picchu offers breathtaking views of the site and the surrounding landscape. Note that access to Huayna Picchu requires a separate ticket.
- Cusco: The historic city of Cusco, the former capital of the Incan Empire, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers a rich cultural experience with colonial architecture, museums, and traditional markets.
In conclusion, visiting Machu Picchu can be an unforgettable experience, but it’s important to be prepared and informed before you go. From the best time to visit to the regulations and restrictions you should be aware of, there are many things to know before visiting Machu Picchu. By following the tips and recommendations provided in this article, you’ll be able to make the most of your visit and enjoy all that this incredible site has to offer. So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime at Machu Picchu!