EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING MACHU PICCHU
Visiting Machu Picchu is almost on everyone’s bucket list when coming to Peru. Considered one of the Seven Wonders in the world, only a few places possess this category due to their incredible beauty and history.
Every year, it attracts millions of people due to its fascinating architecture and location, which surprises all visitors from the first impression. It surely is a most wonderful sight to see, and you feel like you are being swept back in time to the age of the Incas. It is magical and mystical, and it is well worth the trip to visit it.
Nowadays, to visit this Inca archaeological site, you have to take into consideration a few things before heading or taking any tour and have a once-in-a-lifetime, truly unforgettable experience.
In the following post, let’s see all the important FAQs that you need to know to plan your trip to Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu Location
Where is Machu Picchu? This is the question many travelers ask before planning their trip. Machu Picchu is located at the 112.5-kilometer marker of the railway from Cusco on the northern site of the Inca capital. Settled on the slope of an orogenic ridge that comes from the mountain range of Vilcabamba
The historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is perched above a small town called Machu Picchu District, also known as Aguas Calientes, which is the stop for all visitors before heading to the Machu Picchu Inca site.
How high is Machu Picchu?
The archaeological site sits at 2,430 meters (7,972 feet) above sea level. However, if you are planning to hike any of the two mountains around, Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu Mountain, those peaks are higher than the Machu Picchu citadel.
Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu town is at 2,010 meters (6,594 feet), where you can find many hotels, restaurants, ATMs, and shops.
How to get Machu Picchu
In the last few years, there have been several options from Cusco to reach this iconic Inca site, and you can opt for the best way that suits your budget, fitness level, time, and season.
If you are limited of time, then the One Day Machu Picchu Tour or the 2-Day Machu Picchu Tour by train is for you, sneaking through the valleys and offering breathtaking scenery during couple hours of trip. Nowadays, there are only two companies running the train to Machu Picchu, Peru Rail and Inca Rail, with several train tickets, from the cheapest one at $60 USD to the fanciest train (Belmont Hiram Bingham). We highly recommend booking in advance due to the capacity of the train.
This is one of the cheapest ways to reach Machu Picchu; all buses leave from Cusco early in the morning and drive for about 6 hours to reach Hydroelectrica. From Hydroelectrica, you must hike for 3 hours to get to Aguas Calientes town. You also have the option to take a train, which will be cheaper than from Ollantaytambo.
Without a doubt, this is one of the best ways to explore more about the Incas. Nowadays, there are several hiking routes that can take you through the stunning landscapes of this famous lost city of the Incas. But there is only one route that will lead you directly to Machu Picchu; this is the Classic Inca Trail. However, you have also heard about the Salkantay Trek, Lares Trek, Inca Jungle Trail, and Huchuy Qosqo Trek, which offer great experiences as well on the way to Machu Picchu.
The Classic Inca Trail has been recognized for many years as one of the best trails in the world. Due to the new regulations to preserve this iconic Inca path, the government created many regulations and limited access; only 220 tourists can hike every day, so you need to book months in advance.
If you like to discover the culture, beautiful landscape, history, and traditions, this is the right adventure tour for you. Read more about this Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu.
This trek became popular in the last few years due to the fully-booked Inca Trail. The Salkantay Trek is one of the best alternative treks to Machu Picchu and offers breathtaking vistas of the Andes mountains, alpine lakes, and lush rain forests. This trek reaches Aguas Calientes, then you visit Machu Picchu on the last day.
Lares Trek is a great option for hikers who want to experience a living culture in the mountains by visiting some extraordinary local families who have preserved the Inca traditions for many years. On the Lares Trek, you’ll hike between alpacas, learn the weaving tradition by using alpaca’s wool and some native plants, and enjoy the stunning landscapes with some lakes and glaciers. Have breathtaking vistas on the train ride to Machu Picchu.
Inca Jungle Trail
If you love adventure, this is the perfect trip for you. The Inca Jungle Trail combines some of the most incredible adventure activities in Cusco. Ride a bicycle from the mountains to the lush forest, live the adrenaline of whitewater rafting, hike in the high Peruvian jungle with fantastic views, relax in the hot springs, fly on the zipline over the valley, and explore Machu Picchu, avoiding the crowds.
Machu Picchu Tickets
The Inca site of Machu Picchu is one of the most visited places in Peru and South America, and as a result, the Peruvian government has been steadily implementing new regulations for all visitors who plan to visit Machu Picchu.
Now all the entrance tickets are provided based on the hour of entrance, which allows you to enter Machu Picchu at a specific time. This is done with the purpose of preserving and managing the precious Inca site better.
Visiting Machu Picchu
Since 2019, the Machu Picchu tickets allow you to enter only once, with no option to re-enter. Each ticket has printed which circuit you must follow during your visit to Machu Picchu.
The New Circuits in Machu Picchu
Since 2021, the Peruvian government has made more regulations to preserve Machu Picchu and make the visit more fluid. That is why nowadays we can find different circuits with only one way.
This is the longest-medium circuit that allows you to explore the most important sections of Machu Picchu. It takes you to the upper part, where you can see better the Inca site and visit more temples in the urban sector: The Temple of the Sun, Machu Picchu quarry, following the Main Temple, and the lower sector.
Perfect for these who want to get the classic post card picture and see all Machu Picchu.
After passing the checkpoint, it heads you toward the guard’s house, a little lower than Circuit 1. You also get a nice view quite similar to the postcard picture. You’ll visit the main gate, Sundial Temple, Sacred Rock, Temple of the Condor, and part of the lower terraces.
Perfect for those who want to walk more in Machu Picchu by exploring more temples.
This is the circuit that takes you to the Sun Temple and allows you to explore only the lower part of Machu Picchu, with no option to hike to the upper sector. You’ll get to visit the storehouses, terraces, Inca Palace, water fountains, and water mirrors.
This circuit is mostly for people who hike on the Inca Trail 2-Day and the Classic Inca Trail 4-Day.
This circuit is one of the longest in the lower part of Machu Picchu, with no option to get the classic postcard photo. You’ll get to visit the Inca Palace, Water Fountains, Main Plaza, Sacred Rock, and the Temple of the Condor.
Circuit 4 combines the hike to Huayna Picchu and the Huchuy Picchu mountains.
Machu Picchu Mountain
Climbing Machu Picchu mountain is absolutely still worth your time. It is less steep than Huayna Picchu, but it will provide you with a breathtaking vista over the Machu Picchu Inca site and surrounding landscapes.
400 people are allowed per day to climb this mountain in different timeslots; therefore, it is well recommended to purchase your ticket months in advance, especially during the high season of May, June, and July.
It takes a 2-hour hike round trip on a trail with a lot of stairs that gradually ascend until the top of the peak, 3,082 meters.
Price ticket: $70 USDMachu Picchu Circuit 3, plus Machu Picchu Mountain. Read more about the Machu Picchu Mountain
Huayna Picchu Mountain
Huayna Picchu is the most famous peak that appears behind the Machu Picchu Inca site. The trail is very steep and terrifying, and at some point, it will be a narrow trail with a deep cliff on the site. However, it offers phenomenal views from the top.
Only 266 tickets are available each day in specific morning timeslots, which is why booking in advance is required.
The hike takes 1.30 hours round trip on a steep trail until it reaches 2,730 meters, with a maximum of 4 hours to be there.
Ticket price: $70 USDMachu Picchu Circuit 4 plus Huayna Picchu Mountain. Read More about Huayna Picchu Mountain
How to get Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes?
For those who are planning to visit Machu Picchu on a day trip or a two-day trip from Cusco, Aguas Calientes is the town located at the bottom of the mountain of Machu Picchu; it is also called Machu Picchu town. It is where the train stops, and there are various hotels and restaurants.
Once you get there, you will have two options to reach the Machu Picchu archaeological site:
This hike is quite challenging but also great for active people who are in good physical condition. The hike takes 50 minutes to 1 hour, following the bus road until it reaches the bridge. After passing the checkpoint, the hike starts to ascend until the main checkpoint at Machu Picchu.
The first bus leaves at 5:30 a.m. and the last one at 3:30 p.m. from the town. It takes 25 minutes to drive on a sicksack road, and the ticket price is $12 USD one way or $24 USD round trip. The buses are leaving every 10 minutes, depending on how fast they get full.
You have the option to buy the bus tickets in the same town and minutes before you board the bus.
Bring Your Passport
You must have your passport with you in order to enter Machu Picchu; it has to be original and not a copy. There is no way to get in without a passport!
Be aware of what you can’t bring in
Food is not allowed to be brought into Machu Picchu; however, you can still eat something while you are away from the rangers, for example, on the way to Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu mountain or the Inca bridge.
Water bottles are still allowed, but we highly recommend bringing your own container.
Neither are tripods, drones, obnoxious selfie sticks, or large backpacks. Trust us when we say that those guards have eyes everywhere, and you’ll soon be alerted to the fact that you’ve brought in something you shouldn’t.
Some Frequently Asked Questions about Machu Picchu
All travelers have been wondering about many things when planning their trip. Let’s answer some of the most popular questions travelers have about Machu Picchu.
What time Machu Picchu Open?
Machu Picchu is open from 6:00 a.m. Until 4:00 p.m. from Monday to Sunday, all year around.
When is Machu Picchu Closed?
The Seven World Wonder of Machu Picchu closes in the afternoon at 4:00 p.m.However, it opens all year around. The 365 days of the year.
Where is Machu Picchu?
This archaeological site is located in the district of Machu Picchu, province of Urubamba, in the Cusco region, and on the south side of Peru.
What is Machu Picchu?
Also known as Lost City of the Incas is an archaeological site settled in the Peruvian Andes, above the Urubamba River valley. Built in the 15th century during the Inca Pachacuteq period, it’s renowned for its sophisticated dry-stone walls that fuse huge blocks without the use of mortar, intriguing buildings that play on astronomical alignments, and panoramic views.
When was Machu Picchu discovered?
In 1911 American historian and explorer Hiram Bingham traveled the region looking for the old Inca capital and was led to Machu Picchu by a villager, Melchor Arteaga. Bingham found the name Agustín Lizárraga and the date 1902 written in charcoal on one of the walls of the Temple of the Three Windows. Initially disappointed, he documented in his pocket field journal: «Agustín Lizárraga is discoverer of Machu Picchu and lives at San Miguel Bridge just before passing». However, while Bingham initially acknowledged Lizárraga as the discoverer in his early writings and speeches, including Inca Land (1922), he gradually downplayed Lizárraga’s role until, in his final version of the story, Lost City of the Incas (1952), Bingham claimed to have found the site himself.
What is the Machu Picchu elevation?
This impressive Inca site of Machu Picchu is settled at 2,430 meters (7,972 feet) above sea level.
How Much does it cost to visit Machu Picchu?
Nowadays, there are a lot of travel companies selling different tours to Machu Picchu, from a day trip to multi-day tours. The basic price for a day tour by train to Machu Picchu with all included is about $260 USD per person.
When is the best time to visit Machu Picchu?
From May to July is the best season to visit Machu Picchu, as those months are dry in Cusco and you can clearly see all the landscapes around Machu Picchu.
Read More about the Best Time to visit Machu Picchu
Where to stay when visiting Machu Picchu?
Aguas Calientes town has many hostels, hotels, and lodges where you can stay before heading to the Machu Picchu Inca site. Prices can vary according to the season.
Where in Peru is Machu Picchu?
The Inca site of Machu Picchu is located in the region of Cusco in the south of Peru, near the high cloud forest.