How to get to Machu Picchu – guide
Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca citadel considered one of the world’s most significant cultural and architectural sites. The name “Machu Picchu” translates to “old mountain” in the Quechua language, and it is believed to have been built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti. The site’s construction is a testament to the Inca’s architectural and engineering skills, as the citadel was built without mortar or modern tools. The stones were precisely cut to fit together perfectly, creating a structure that has stood the test of time for over 500 years.
Visiting Machu Picchu is one of the highlights of your Peruvian trip. So, how to get to Machu Picchu – a guide will help you! Tickets are not sold at the Machu Picchu site, so you must purchase them before arrival. There are three types of tickets you can purchase. Here are some steps to help you buy it before arriving in Cusco.
Machu Picchu main ground tickets
Price: 152 soles (45$)
What is included: Entry to Machu Picchu – main ruins, terraces, and temples. You can’t climb Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu, so you must buy a different ticket.
Due to a new regulation for the entrance to the Citadel of Machu Picchu, please note that since July 1, 2017, tickets will have schedules:
From 06:00 am to 2:00 pm every hour.
Tickets can only be used once in the day within the chosen time.
The Citadel of Machu Picchu is located in a region bordering the jungle, so sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, caps, and repellent is advisable both during the trip and while at the Citadel.
Machu Picchu and Montana (mountain) tickets
Price: 200 soles (60$)
What has included: main grounds and entry to climb Montana Machu Picchu. There are 2-time slots you must choose from 7-8 am and 09-10 am.
Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu tickets
Price: 200 soles (60$)
With this ticket, you are allowed climb to Huayna Picchu (Waynapicchu) and entry to the Temple of the Sun, including ruins at the top. Same as for Montana Machu Picchu, there are 2-time slots you can choose from, 7-8 am or 10-11 am.
* You have to show your passport once you arrive at Machu Picchu. Often, even a credit card used for purchasing is required on arrival.
** If you buy Student tickets, you must provide your ISIC card and passport when booking your ticket online and on arrival.
*** Buying your ticket in advance is strongly advisable, as tickets will likely sell out in high season (June – September).
BUYING MACHU PICCHU TICKETS – STEP BY STEP
Buying tickets in Peru (Lima, Cusco, or Aquas Calientes) is hassle-free, but if you want to buy your ticket in advance and get it cheaper, you need to visit the Government website http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe.
If you get a blank page after you follow the link, you need to download Adobe Flash Player (there is a link for downloading Player at the top left side of the blank page).
Once you install it, you can see the content of Ministerio de Cultura.
You will see the Book Online section, with a calendar on the left side. Here you will be offered to choose from the tickets mentioned above. I will give you an example by choosing a date for a visit (I will select October 10) and selecting the number of tickets (I have chosen 1). Then, click AVAILABILITY.
You will be shown time slots (from 6.00 – 14.00 every hour). I will choose Machu Picchu main grounds tickets and entry at 10.00. You will be delivered the price in PEN (Peruvian soles).
Enter your details, including your name, gender, age, passport number, and email address. Recheck all details, as these tickets are non-refundable; agree to terms and conditions and click BOOK.
Proceed to the next step.
Click on PAYMENTS (top of the page) to purchase your ticket.
Enter your credit card details and pay for the ticket.
But this is not the end. It is only a confirmation that you paid for the ticket. Once you get to Peru, you must exchange this printed confirmation for an actual ticket. It doesn’t sound very easy, but it isn’t. I traded my reservation in Cusco. It took me a few minutes, but remember to bring your passport.
GETTING OR BUYING YOUR TICKET
Ministerio de Cultura
Casa Garcilaso (Calle Garcilaso)
Open: 7 am – 8 pm Mon-Sat
In Aguas Calientes
Direccion Regional de Cultura Aguas Calientes Office
Open: 5 am – 10 pm Mon-Sun
Banco de la Nacion
*On the website, you can see the number of tickets left for purchase, which is essential, as the number of visitors to Machu Picchu grounds is limited to 2500 per day.
** For Huayna Picchu, the limit is 400, and for Montana Picchu, 800 visitors per day.
HOW MUCH IS THE TOTAL COST OF THE TRIP TO MACHU PICCHU
Many factors affect the price. Many options are available, such as hiking, or a day visit, with or without accommodation in Aguas Calientes. Many tour operators offer various packages. But, if you want to do this yourself (as I did), you must buy your ticket online. Also, you need a train ticket from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, a bus ticket from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu, and a local guide you can hire at the site.
HOW TO BUY A TRAIN TICKET
Go to the website PERU RAIL https://www.perurail.com
Choose a destination and the day of your travel.
Choose the train and departure time.
Enter your details and passport number.
Choose a method of payment and accept the terms and conditions
Print out your ticket.
* You must be at the train station 30 minutes before train departure.
** No tickets are needed for children aged 0-2 years held in their parent’s arms. If an independent seat is required for the child, a 50% discount on the purchase of tickets will be applied. Children aged 3-11 years are subject to a 50% discount on the purchase of tickets.
*** The ticket can only be refunded 24 hours before departure.
BUS FROM AGUAS CALIENTS TO MACHU PICCHU
You can’t buy tickets to Machu Picchu on the bus; you must purchase them earlier. After you leave the train station, cross over the bridge and ask for Venta Oficial de Ticket de Bus. Return tickets cost 24$ for adults and 12$ for children. Buses are frequent and will take you to the entrance of Machu Picchu.
HIRE A GUIDE
It is possible to hire a guide at the entrance. The price depends on the group’s number. It ranges from 5$-15$ for a group tour and up to 50$ for a private tour of the grounds.
BEST TIME TO VISIT MACHU PICCHU
The best time to visit Machu Picchu is during the dry season, which runs from May to October. During this time, there is generally less rain, and the skies are clearer, providing better visibility of the site and the surrounding mountains.
However, it’s also the busiest time, with July and August being the peak months for tourism. Therefore, if you want to avoid crowds, visiting during the shoulder seasons of April, May, September, or October may be better.
The rainy season, which runs from November to March, can make the trails slippery and muddy, and there’s a higher chance of landslides or other weather-related issues that may affect your visit. However, this is also when the landscape is greenest and most vibrant, with much smaller crowds.
Ultimately, the best time to visit Machu Picchu depends on your preferences and priorities, and it’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast before you go.
TIPS FOR VISITING MACHU PICCHU
Here are some tips for visiting Machu Picchu:
- Book in advance: Machu Picchu has limited tickets available each day, and they can sell out quickly. It’s important to book your tickets and any guided tours in advance to ensure availability.
- Choose the right time to visit: The peak season for Machu Picchu is from June to August, so consider visiting during the shoulder season (April to May or September to October) to avoid crowds and get better weather.
- Be prepared for the altitude: Machu Picchu is over 2430 meters above sea level, so altitude sickness can be a concern. Take it easy on the first day and drink plenty of water to acclimate.
- Dress appropriately: The weather in Machu Picchu can be unpredictable, so dress in layers and bring a waterproof jacket. Wear comfortable shoes as there is much walking involved.
- Hire a guide: Hiring a guide can enhance your experience at Machu Picchu. They can provide insights into the history and culture of the site and help you navigate the complex.
- Stay in Aguas Calientes: Aguas Calientes is the closest town to Machu Picchu and is a great place to stay the night before or after your visit. It has plenty of accommodations and restaurants to choose from.
- Plan your route: There are different routes to explore Machu Picchu; some can be more challenging. Plan your route based on your fitness level and interests.
- Respect the site: Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and should be treated respectfully. Don’t litter, stay on designated trails, and avoid touching the ruins.
TIPS TO HELP PREVENT ALTITUDE SICKNESS
- Gradual ascent: Allow your body to adjust to the high altitude gradually. Start at lower elevations and trek up slowly over several days. This will give your body time to acclimatize to the thin air.
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water and fluids to help your body adjust to the altitude. Dehydration can make altitude sickness worse.
- Rest: Take frequent breaks to rest and catch your breath. Don’t push yourself too hard or fast, as this can worsen altitude sickness.
- Consider medication: Consult your doctor about altitude sickness medication before your trip. Diamox is a common medication that can help prevent altitude sickness.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking: Alcohol and smoking can worsen altitude sickness symptoms, so avoiding them is best.
- Be aware of the symptoms: It’s important to know the symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. If you experience these symptoms, descend immediately and seek medical attention.
Altitude sickness can be challenging for trekkers, but it can be managed with the right preparation and precautions. Remember to take it slow, stay hydrated, rest, and be aware of the symptoms. With these tips, you can safely and successfully trek to high-altitude destinations.
I hope the guide helped you. For more about Peru, click HERE!