The ancient Incan citadel of Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes is one of the highlights of any trip to South America. Inspiring as it is, this abandoned 15th-century structure provides a window into the Inca Empire's storied past. Machu Picchu is a fantastic destination for anyone, whether they're interested in history, seeking adventure, or just want to do something different on their next vacation. We hope that our travel guide will help you make the most of your time at this amazing site. Everything you need to know, from when to go and how to get there to what to see and do and how to be safe, is right here. Time to get organized for a vacation to Machu Picchu!
The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu sits in the Peruvian Andes, around 130 kilometers (80 miles) to the northwest of Cusco. The location is spectacular, perched on a ridge above the Urubamba Valley with panoramic views of the Andes in every direction. The city of Cusco serves as the region's primary entry point, making it the ideal starting point for a trip to Machu Picchu.
Taking a train to Aguas Calientes, the village at the foot of the citadel, is the most common means of accessing Machu Picchu. Travel time by train is around 4 hours, and numerous train companies and routes are available. From Aguas Calientes, visitors can take a bus or walk to the fortress. While the bus travel is quick (about 30 minutes) and frequent (about every 30 minutes), the hike is laborious (about 2 hours) and uphill the whole way.
It is also possible to reach Machu Picchu by hiking one of the Inca trails, which are ancient paths that lead to the citadel. These hikes can take anywhere from 4 to 7 days and are a great way to experience the natural beauty of the Andes and get a sense of what it would have been like to travel to Machu Picchu in Inca times. However, these hikes require to have a permit and also need to be properly prepared, physically and mentally. It's important to be aware that these hikes are not for everyone, and it's recommend to check with a tour operator about the difficulty level of the trail and to have a guide along the way.
Taking a luxury train to Machu Picchu is one of the more extravagant options for seeing the Inca site. These trains provide an interesting and relaxing alternative for visitors seeking a more luxurious means of reaching the citadel. Several different high-end trains travel to Machu Picchu, and each one has its own set of perks and services.
The Hiram Bingham is widely regarded as one of the best luxury trains available. Belmond, the company that runs this train, provides a luxurious and genuine journey. The train has luxurious Pullman cars from the Roaring Twenties era, replete with a full bar, a dining car, and live entertainment. The breathtaking scenery of the Andes and the Urubamba River enhances the already magical experience of the trek to Machu Picchu. A gourmet picnic lunch and a guided tour of the fortress are also available for passengers.
The Vistadome is an additional opulent train service. The Andean beauty rolls by in front of your eyes through the panoramic windows of this PeruRail train. On the way to Machu Picchu, guests can relax in the bar car or dine in the dining car. Additionally, there is a guide on board the train who provides interesting and educational commentary on the region's rich heritage.
There is no better or more luxurious way to see Machu Picchu than on board one of these trains. Aside from providing a luxurious ride, they also give visitors an opportunity to learn about the rich history and culture of the Andes. It's important to plan ahead because luxury trains are more expensive than standard ones and tickets and reservations sell out quickly.
When people think of South American hiking trails, they often think of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Hikers on this route, which is largely composed of ancient Incan roads and walkways, get to explore some of the Andes' most breathtaking scenery and isolated corners. The journey, which takes around four days to complete, takes hikers through cloud forests, high-altitude mountains, and sub-tropical jungle surrounded by stunning mountain scenery. There is a first glimpse of Machu Picchu at the trail's end, the Sun Gate.
If you're searching for a real, in-depth adventure, the Inca Trail is where you should go. While the hike may be strenuous, the benefits are substantial. Hikers can enjoy the stunning Andean landscape, get insight into Inca history and culture, and feel a sense of satisfaction by making it to the summit. As only a set number of licenses are given out daily, this is also a fantastic method to beat the throng. However, keep in mind that the Inca Trail necessitates a permit and a high level of physical fitness. Permits sell out fast, especially during peak times, so make sure to reserve yours early. Since the terrain might be difficult, it is suggested that you hire a guide and bring a porter to make the journey easier and safer.
The Salkantay Trek is another popular alternative to the Inca Trail that leads trekkers through some of the Andes' most breathtaking scenery. The hike is around 70 kilometers long and takes about five days to complete. It travels through a variety of landscapes, including high-altitude passes, cloud forests, and sub-tropical rainforest, and it provides stunning vistas of snow-capped peaks and glaciers. Hikers get to see the spectacular Inca city of Machu Picchu from a new vantage point once they reach the trail's terminus at the citadel.
If you're seeking a more real and adventurous experience, but are willing to sacrifice a few days of comfort in exchange, the Salkantay journey is for you. By hiking it, you can take in the stunning scenery of the Andes, gain insight into the region's rich cultural heritage, and feel rewarded when achieving your goal. It's an excellent substitute for the more popular Inca Trail if you want solitude. Keep in mind that the Salkantay trip, like the Inca Trail, calls for a healthy dose of physical fitness, and that it's wise to plan ahead and hire a guide. One must also pack sensibly in anticipation of varying climates.
The Lares Trek is another alternate trail to Machu Picchu that provides hikers a unique and immersive experience. The journey takes place in the Lares Valley, located north of Cusco, and it normally takes 3 or 4 days to complete. The trail winds through gorgeous Andean communities, lonely high-altitude passes, and lush cloud forests, and offers stunning vistas of snowcapped peaks and glaciers. Hikers get to see the spectacular Inca city of Machu Picchu from a new vantage point once they reach the trail's terminus at the citadel.
The Lares Trek is recommended for individuals who are looking for a more authentic and off-the-beaten-path experience. It offers the possibility to discover the Andean culture and way of life, by visiting distant settlements and mingling with the local people. It's also a wonderful alternative if you're hoping to avoid the crowds, as the trek is less trafficked than the Inca Trail or the Salkantay Trek. Keep in mind that the Lares Trek needs a strong degree of fitness, and it's advisable to book in advance and employ a guide. Also, it's necessary to be prepared for different weather situations and to pack accordingly.
The months of May through September, known as the dry season, are ideal for a trip to Machu Picchu. The weather is typically dry and clearer in the spring, making it a great time to visit the citadel and take in the sights. To counteract the chill of the Andean nights, the days tend to be warmer. Also, the dry season has less visitors, so you can take pictures and enjoy the scenery without having to squeeze in with everyone else.
May and September, traditionally the driest months, can nevertheless see a lot of precipitation in Machu Picchu. It's smart to pack a raincoat and waterproof shoes in case it starts to pour down outside. In addition, remember that Machu Picchu is situated in the Andes, at an altitude of 7,970 feet (2,430 meters), so it can feel chilly even in the dry season. Bring protective gear against the sun's rays at high altitude, like sunglasses and sunscreen, and dress in layers to stay warm.
For a less crowded Machu Picchu experience, travel between April and October. These are still good months to visit because of the dry, clear weather, but you won't have to fight as many people as you would during the busiest tourist season. Consequently, you will be able to take in the citadel's sights and scenery without having to fight your way through a swarm of other visitors. Also, the weather is mild in April and October, making it pleasant for strolling around and learning about the history of the area.
The best time to see Machu Picchu is early in the morning, before the crowds arrive. The first bus to the citadel departs at 5:30 a.m., and the gates open at 6:00 a.m. If you get there early, you can avoid the throng, enjoy the view without having to fight for photo space, and get some great shots. Getting your tickets and permits ahead of time will save you time at the site by allowing you to skip the lines. You should anticipate that tickets and permits will sell out rapidly during peak seasons.
Machu Picchu has a wide variety of lodgings to suit any traveler's needs and budget, from inexpensive dorms to opulent hotels. The surrounding town of Aguas Calientes is home to a number of five-star hotels and resorts, perfect for visitors in need of a relaxing and lavish stay. There are a range of conveniences available at these lodgings, including private bathrooms, plush bedding, and onsite dining and drinking establishments.
The Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, situated on the mountain just a few minutes' walk from Machu Picchu's entrance, is one of the most opulent options. The hotel's beautiful rooms and suites, some of which have own terraces, are furnished with traditional Andean fabrics and artwork and give stunning views of the citadel. After a day of seeing the citadel, guests can unwind at the hotel's spa, restaurant, or bar.
The Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel in nearby Aguas Calientes is another five-star choice, with its own restaurant, bar, and spa in addition to its spacious rooms and suites with private balconies. You can visit Machu Picchu without worrying about transportation because the hotel provides a free shuttle to the citadel.
Finally, the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, a cluster of bungalows in the center of the Inca citadel, is a choice for those wishing for a genuinely special and magnificent stay. Beautiful views of the citadel may be seen from the hotel's opulent rooms and suites, which are furnished with authentic Andean fabrics and artwork. After a day of seeing the citadel, the hotel offers a restaurant, a bar, and a spa to help guests unwind.
Cusco, the old capital of the Inca Empire, is one of the top tourist destinations. Visiting this city is like getting a look into the world of the Incas; it is steeped in history and culture. Temple of the Sun, Inca Bridge, and other ruins can be found all across the city, and tourists can also enjoy the local culture and quaint marketplaces while they're there. As a bonus, several tours and hikes in the area recommend Cusco as an excellent entry point.
The Sacred Valley of the Incas is a must-see destination not far from Cusco. Numerous Incan citadels and villages, including Pisac and Moray, can be found in this valley. The valley is well-known for its breathtaking scenery and authentic Andean settlements, where tourists can learn about and engage with the region's rich cultural heritage. A tour can be taken to these locations, or guests can explore the valley on their own and take in the breathtaking views of the Andes.
Another site around Machu Picchu is the old Inca fortress of Ollantaytambo. Among the most well-preserved Inca structures, this castle may be found in the Sacred Valley, which is located roughly 96 kilometers (60 miles) from Cusco. The stronghold, which was likely constructed in the 15th century, was a major administrative and ecclesiastical hub. It's a fantastic spot for discovering Inca artifacts and reading up on Inca history. The castle is famous for its spectacular stone constructions, such as the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Water, and its terraced agricultural lands. Ollantaytambo stands out among the other Inca ruins in the area because it was a major Inca military, religious, and administrative center but was never taken by the Spanish. The castle was not only a key military outpost for the Incas, but also a political and religious hub.
There are a number of logistical and safety considerations that must be made before a trip to Machu Picchu may be made. Altitude sickness is one of the most crucial factors to consider. As the height of Machu Picchu is 7,970 feet (2,430 meters), visitors may experience altitude sickness and other side effects. Spending a few days in Cusco or a similar city before traveling to Machu Picchu can help you acclimate to the high altitude and avoid the unpleasant effects of altitude sickness. Also, remember to take in enough of water and stay away from the tobacco and alcohol.
The weather is another factor that should be taken into account for your own safety. It is recommended that visitors to Machu Picchu pack a rain jacket and waterproof boots, as rain and mist can occur even in the dry season. Keep in mind that the early morning and late evening hours tend to be the chilliest, so you may want to bring along some warm garments.
Practical advice includes taking along the basics like water, snacks, sunscreen, and a cap in a daypack. Machu Picchu does not have any shops or vending machines, so be sure to carry everything you will need for the day with you. The place contains steep and rough terrain, therefore sturdy shoes are also recommended. There is no cover at the location, so make sure to bring sun protection such as sunglasses and sunscreen. In addition, remember that there is no first aid station nearby; if you are hurt, you'll have to go back to Aguas Calientes to get medical attention. Bring along a duplicate of your medical emergency contacts and travel insurance information.
Travelers dream of visiting Machu Picchu, the Inca fortress. This wonder should be experienced in elegance and comfort. Imagine waking up in a magnificent hotel with stunning views of the citadel and walking to Machu Picchu's entrance without crowds or lineups. After touring, unwind in the hotel spa or dine at the gourmet restaurant.
Take a luxury tour to Machu Picchu to explore Andean culture and history. Hiram Bingham, Vistadome, and Belmond Andean Explorer are other alternatives. These trains provide beautiful 1920s-style Pullman cars, fine meals, live music, and an open bar, making the Machu Picchu journey unforgettable. Travel to Machu Picchu in style on your luxury vacation.