Machu Picchu is nestled between the peaks of the Andes thousands of feet above ground in the Cusco Region of Peru. The ancient ruins are a UNESCO world heritage site and attracts tourists and history buffs from across the world. If you are visiting for the first time then here are a few things you need to know before tackling the trail:
- When to go
The best time to visit is late May to August. The weather is driest in July and August, so if you want less rain and fog then this is the time to go. However, as it is a subtropical region, there will probably be some rainfall whenever you go. Between May and August is peak season and it can get annoyingly busy from 10am up until 2pm. During these times, visitors come on day tours from Cusco or Ollantaytambo. If you stay locally, then you can avoid the crowds and discover the ruins in your own time outside busy periods.
- How to get to the ruins
Visiting the ruins is the experience of a lifetime. If you are energetic and adventurous person, then the most exciting way to visit is on a hike. However, it can take 4 days and it is not for the feint hearted and legally you must travel the ruins with a tour agent or sanctioned group. If you decide to discover Machu Picchu this way then it is best to book well ahead of your trip, as these tours get booked up months in advance.
If you want a more leisurely trip to the ruins, then you can travel by train from either Cusco or Ollantaytambo to AguasCalientes. The Machu Picchu Train, Inca and Rail Perurail all run to AguasCalientes, better known as Machu Picchu. There are different levels of service available on the trains to suit all budgets.
When you get to AguasCalientes, then you will need to catch a bus to the ruins. The stop is about 5 minutes by foot from the train station and the buses run every 15-20 minutes, so you will not have to wait long.
- Where to stay on your trip to Machu Picchu
If you hike up the Inca Trail, then you will set up camp with your guide and group, so you will not need to worry about finding accommodation. However, if you want a less arduous trip then it makes sense to stay in AguasCalientes. As it is so close to the ruins, it will give you plenty of time to explore at your own pace without having to rush back to get your train. There are plenty of accommodation options in AguasCalientes, including: budget hotels, hostels, and even luxurious hotels.
- You will need a ticket
The ruins of Machu Picchu are a tourist hotspot, so as you can imagine many people want to visit. As such, the amount of tourists that are allowed to visit the site each day is limited and you need a ticket to get in. These tickets sell out quickly, thus to avoid disappointment make sure you book yours in advance.
- Consider your clothing
When considering what to pack for Machu Picchu you need to decide when you are going and what you will do when you get there. If you are hiking you will need clothes that are more robust and some good camping equipment. However, if you travel by bus then you will just need comfortable hiking shoes, a rain mac, long trousers, and a lightweight t-shirt.