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Tips For Visiting Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is a terraced Inca citadel with remains of temples, palaces, fountain and altars. The fabled “Lost City of the Incas” is thought to have been constructed by the Incas around 1450 and is an architectural marvel.

Machu Picchu is open year-round, but there are two things you can’t count on: dry weather and thin crowds. It can rain anytime, though officially, October to April is the rainy season. And while peak season is July–August, you should always expect crowds.

HERE SOME TIPS FOR VISITING MACHU PICCHU

  • ENTRANCE TICKETS. If you’re traveling independently, you can buy tickets here.
  • BRING. Water and a rain jacket, even if it looks like a beautiful day.
    Bus. Unless you want to do the steep, 90-minute walk from Aguas Calientes to the citadel, buses are your only option. They operate every few minutes starting at 5:30 a.m., and people start lining up well before that. The line to catch the bus back will be long. Be patient.
  • TIMING. If you’re spending a full day (and you should), is it worth taking a super-early bus? It depends. The crowds are slimmer in the early morning, of course. But you’ll never be entirely alone, and even during prime-time hours, it didn’t feel super crowded. Also, I was there on a very cloudy day; when I arrived at 7 a.m., I couldn’t see a thing. As in, anything that wasn’t a few feet in front of me. (Luckily, the clouds started lifting later in the morning.) For me, the best time was toward the end of the day.
  • HUAYNA PICCHU. You’ll need a separate ticket to climb this peak, and you need to book in advance—there are a limited number of tickets. It’s absolutely worth the money and time—the view looking down on the Incan ruins was one of the highlights of my visit. It is strenuous, though, and not for everyone. You’ll have the choice of climbing it at 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. Go at 10 a.m.; there’s a better chance any clouds will have lifted by then.
  • BRING SOME COINS. You’ll need them to use the bathroom.
  • BRING YOUR PASSPORT. To use the bathroom or grab food, you’ll have to exit the gates, then show your ticket and passport when you reenter. And just outside the entrance gates, there’s a barely marked station where you can get the novelty Machu Picchu stamp.
  • HAVE THE LUNCH. There’s a snack bar just outside the entrance gates, but the Sanctuary Lodge’s buffet lunch is your only sit-down-restaurant option. It’s very good, if pricey ($45 per person).
  • Machu Picchu peak This also requires a separate ticket—and good knees. The trail is almost entirely stairs. You’ll have the choice of starting your climb at 7 a.m. or 9 a.m. (48 soles/$15 per person).
  • At any time of the year the weather in Machu Picchu can change in an instant. Be prepared with a poncho or light raincoat just in-case.
    There is only 1 snack bar at Machu Picchu, go prepared with snacks and drinks to see you through the day.
  • Make sure you get your passport stamped with the Machu Picchu stamp. There is a small office just past the entrance where you can get this done.
  • You can buy your shuttle bus tickets for Machu Picchu at the ticket sales office in Aguas Calientes. Often the line can be long, so if possible buy them the night before. Shuttle bus tickets are valid for 3 days.
  • There are some biting bugs at Machu Picchu, wear long light clothing and use plenty of strong insect repellent. Avoid open toed shoes!
  • Only small backpacks of less than 20 liters are allowed into Machu Picchu. There is a storage office just past the main entrance that charges 3 Soles (US$ 1) to hold your things for the day.
  • The shuttle bus to Machu Picchu takes about 40 minutes. The ride is a little bumpy so be prepared with motion sickness medication if you have a tendency to get ill. Always seek the advice of a qualified doctor before taking any medication!
  • Walking sticks are not permitted in Machu Picchu. 1 Stick with a rubber tip is more welcome and less frowned upon.
  • The only public toilets are located outside the main entrance, underneath the snack bar. Don’t get caught short. A walk from the far side of Machu Picchu to the toilets can take 30 minutes.
  • Shuttle buses to Machu Picchu operate from 5.30 a.m. in the morning until 6 p.m. when the sun sets.
  • To the left of the entrance of Machu Picchu there is a pharmacy and a doctor’s service available. The service is operated by Clinca’s Pardo and San Jose (from Cusco).
  • Entrance to Huyna Picchu Mountain is limited to 400 people per day, 200 hundred at 7-8 a.m. and a further 200 from 10-11 a.m. Entrance tickets must be purchased in advance.
  • Be prepared with sun protection including a hat, sunglasses and sun block. Some people even take in small umbrellas! Feel free to look a little daft, but don’t get burnt!
  • If you don’t want to take the shuttle bus to Machu Picchu, there is a pathway that runs up the side of the switchback road used by the buses.
  • From Aguas Calientes follow the shuttle buses to find the start of the path. It takes about 1 hour.
  • 2 Days is recommended to enjoy Machu Picchu to the fullest.
  • There are several optional short hikes that you can do at Machu Picchu. The Sun Gate, 3 hours hike round trip – free to do. The Inca Bridge, 1 hour hike round trip – free to do. Huayna Picchu, 2 hours hike round trip, entrance tickets required. Huayna Picchu Mountain, 4 hours hike round trip, entrance tickets required.
  • If you have a fear of heights, it is not recommended to hike Huayna Picchu. At the top, the path is very narrow and very steep.
  • Take your passport with you to Machu Picchu you will need to pass through the control at the entrance. If you don’t have it you will be denied entrance.

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