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Machu Picchu Travel Guide

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Machu Picchu, without a doubt, deserves to be where it is. A 100% cultural destination for those travelers who love history, culture and adventure (like me), and who has been named as one of the New Wonders of the World. 

Machu Picchu is an ancient Inca city located at 2,490 meters (8000 feet), commonly referred to as "The Lost City of the Incas." It is one of the most famous and amazing ruins in the world and a necessary step when choosing Peru as a travel destination. 

All Machu Picchu travel information that summarizes all the concerns for years, among the people who make the Peru Machu Picchu trip, in Peru. Whether you want to get to Machu Picchu by the Inca Trail, by train or walking along the train tracks. 

If you are planning a trip to Machu Picchu, here we leave you this travel guide to Machu Picchu with the best tips to keep in mind and enjoy time in Machu Picchu

 

Visa for Peru 

In general, if you are Latin American, North American or European you will not need it. If you are a Mercosur citizen, all members can enter Peru just by carrying their ID or with a valid passport.

If you are from a country that is not part of Mercosur, then you will need a valid passport and, in some exceptional cases, depending on your country of origin, a visa.

If you are a minor you will need to spend in the company of your parents. If you are a father and you travel with a child (s) you will need a marriage certificate, birth certificate of the child.


Vaccinations Required For Travel To Peru

No vaccination is mandatory but the Ministry of Health of Peru "recommends" getting vaccinated against Yellow Fever to go to certain regions of the jungle. Normally no one does it, so it stays with you whether it's worth the risk or not. In several countries this vaccine is free and when it costs, it is not expensive. 


Peru travel warnings 

In Peru, the city of Cusco is safe in places where you see yourself surrounded by tourists, the center, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu. Avoid walking alone in the markets at night or too far from the center with things of value and tourist appearance. Be attentive to your pockets at fairs or areas where you are very close to people. In one of the most tourist cities in the world it is predictable that there will be minor thefts and scams. To avoid this simply do not leave your valuables alone or confess in free things. Do not trust the excesses of unjustified kindness from strangers who usually will always want something from you.  

Hygiene is very important to maintain health. Always try to see how the foods that serve you are treated. It is common for tourists to get sick from the stomach for trying everything. To avoid it, be cautious, and avoid things that sell on buses and street vendors, especially fried foods and artisanal cheeses that can be carriers of dangerous bacteria. Boiled, freshly cooked or washed food will almost always be fine. Long walks on stony ground can make you easy prey to dislocations or similar injuries. Wear good shoes. Cusco has good medical care places that cater specifically to tourists. To access them do not forget to have a traveler's insurance.  


Best Place To Stay When Visiting Machu Picchu 

Peru is one of the cheapest countries in South America so you can get rooms at ridiculously low prices. However, what you get is directly related to what you pay. 

On the other hand, we do not suggest carrying a tent. Not only there are no campsites enabled but also is not something that is done in the Peruvian highlands. In general, camping in the Peruvian highlands is often insecure and you will end up hating the idea of carrying a heavy tent with you in Cusco, a place where you will hardly need it. 

 

Machu Picchu Temperature 

If you are Argentinian, Colombian or come from a place where it is hot in Summer as much as possible in Cusco is the opposite. Do not think your summer replicates in this region. The periods of intense and cold rain are between December and February while in the capital it is very hot. Whether summer or winter, in Cusco at some time of the day it is cold. Always wear a coat. It is typical that in places of sun you feel warm and in places of cold shadow. The sun is radiant, and with the climate of the place it can damage your skin. Take sun block and / or buy in the pharmacies cacao paste pills that are very cheap and useful.  

MachuPicchu, unlike the city of Cusco is located in the jungle, that is to say in a hybrid point where the mountain meets the jungle and the vegetation changes showing at times characteristics of both regions. The best visiting season is usually between July and October (high season) when there is not so much rain and always blue skies, however this place is visited all year round and never disappoints. 

 

Altitude Peru Machu Picchu  

Maybe you have never experienced the lack of oxygen. This is commonly felt in Cusco due to the height and makes it all cost you triple the effort so do not count on your usual physical resistance which will be diminished. Your digestion will be a little slower and your sleep dense and deep. The ideal is to stay calm the first day to acclimatize. It is very normal for all pharmacies to sell pills for altitude sickness. Coca tea also helps as well as candies. 

 

Cusco Peru Inca Trail 

Doing the "Inca Trail" is not mandatory to get to Machu Picchu. Many people are terribly confused about it. This is just a tourist route that can only be accessed through authorized travel agencies. There are trekkings of two and four days and it is essential to have an excellent physical condition. The walk ends in "one of the entrances to Machu Picchu" (Intipunku), which is why many believe it is the way to get there. Only a small group of visitors can access, so reservations must be made in advance. 


How to Get to Machu Picchu Peru 

All the roads are excellent, full of the same incredible nature and almost the same landscapes are seen. It is not essential to do the "Inca Trail", and not doing so does not deprive you of things that you are not going to see all over Cusco. In fact, Cusco is full of routes of the authentic road that formed the Inca Road Network. You will see during your stay the same ruins, mountains and landscapes. 

To get to Machu Picchu on your own you can do it in the following ways: 

 

  • By train from Cusco city or Ollantaytambo (closer) through IncaRail or PeruRail. 
  • In bus to Ollantaytambo (5 dollars) and then another bus that leaves you at Km 83 of the train tracks. From there walk the remaining kilometers to reach Machu Picchu Town (Aguas Calientes). It is the cheapest route of all but also the most exhausting (after the Inca Trail) since you have to walk about 10 hours to get there. 
  • Route Cusco > Santa Maria > Santa Teresa > Aguas Calientes: Perhaps the preferred route for backpackers who want to save the cost of the train. It is a bit longer but allows you to enjoy the scenery in the most economical way and make a trekking as interesting as the Inca Trail but less exhausting. 

 

Book Machu Picchu Hike 

Formerly with a single entrance you could visit the entire Machu Picchu complex. Now they have divided the visit into sections. If you want to climb the mountain Huayna Picchu you must book your ticket in advance and arrive before noon (It is the mountain behind the citadel where the Temple of the Moon is located). Same for the Machu Picchu mountain. 

From Machu Picchu Town (Aguas Calientes) you can climb up to the ruins of Machu Picchu. Two ways: 

 

  • On foot: Not recommended for people who want to reserve energy to climb the Huayna Picchu 
  • By bus. There are buses that go up and down people all the time. 

 

Unmissable: Take a walk to the Mandor Falls. If you came by train it is sure that you have not passed by there. If you came by foot from Ollantaytambo either. 

If on the contrary you came from Santa Teresa then you passed near the route that deviates towards this place. It is a nice alternative trekking to consider.

 

Discounts 

If you are a student, you should take the ISIC card (International Student Identity Card) that allows you to have discounts in hostels, besides getting the ticket to go up to MachuPichu (it costs 128 soles) at half price, as well as the tourist ticket in Cusco (costs around 18 dollars). 

 

Machu Picchu Travel Itinerary 

Route: Cusco > Santa María > Santa Teresa > Aguas Calientes > Machu Picchu

STEP 1: IN CUSCO  

Take a bus to the city of Quillabamba and get off at the town of Santa María. During the trip we will see the vegetation changing slightly from sierra to jungle. 

Cusco > Santa María: 5 hours approx. 221 km 

Agencies offer bicycle tours from Abra Malaga (4,350 meters) to Santa Maria (1130 meters), where you can see the beautiful landscape while descending and changing vegetation, as well two imposing snow-capped mountains: the hill Verónica and the Apu Sankantay (sacred hill of the Incas). 


STEP 2: IN SANTA MARÍA (1,280 MASL) 

From here the climate is hot in the day and temperate in the night. A collective is taken by an affirmed road to the town of Santa Teresa. In this section you can see the God Salkantay 

Santa Maria > Santa Teresa: 1 hour 45min.

 

STEP 3: IN SANTA TERESA (1,600 MASL)

In Santa Teresa you can rest and visit the Thermal Baths of Cocalmayo, much less crowded than those of Aguas Calientes; and then to the "Hydroelectric". It can be reached on foot or by taxi 

Santa Teresa > Hydroelectric: 1 hour and 30 min on foot, 6 km road; 20 minutes by car 


STEP 4: IN HYDROELECTRIC  

From here it is highly recommended to walk to the town of Aguas Calientes as it passes through tunnels, bridges and great landscapes. You just have to go by the rails of the railroad. Impossible to get lost. Another option is to go by train to Aguas Calientes and then return a few kilometers and see the landscape and the waterfall. The same nature is appreciated and is less tired.  

Hydroelectric > Aguas Calientes: 2 to 3 hours 10 km on foot; 20 min 8 dollars by train 


STEP 5: IN AGUAS CALIENTES (MACHU PICCHU TOWN) 

Take the bus to the ruins of Machupicchu. You can buy the round trip bus. Either only the one way, or only the return one. Usually one is more exhausted when returning, especially if he went up to Huayna Picchu. 

Times: from 5:30 a.m. 

Costs Round Trip Ticket: 

  • National adult: $13.00
  • Foreign adult: $19.00 
  • National student: $9.00 
  • National child: $6.00 
  • Foreign child: $9.00 

Aguas calientes (town) > Machupicchu 8km 20 min. by bus; 1 hour 30 min. walking 


STEP 6: IN MACHUPICCHU  

After visiting Machupicchu, you can go to HUAYNAPICCHU, the highest mountain, where it is seen a fantastic panorama of the Machu Picchu citadel. For this you have to enter one of the two groups that only enter in the morning. 

Machupicchu > Huaynapicchu Time: 1 hour hike uphill; 1 hour 30 min downhill 


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