Visiting Machu Picchu

Machu picchu is the famous Incan empire capital in the Andes of Peru.  The site is one of the most amazing places I have visited to date.  The architecture with stones is absolutely amazing and lives up to its name.  Not only that, but the location of the ancient city is stunning.  To get up to Machu Picchu from the valley floor below you can hike or take a bus.  If you are in shape I highly recommend hiking the 500m to the top of the plateau, it is difficult but totally worth it. Here are some tips and advise about how to get here, where to stay, and top activities from what I have learned after visiting Machu Picchu myself.

Top Activites

Although coming to see the ruins is the most popular reason for visiting, those who enjoy hiking can summit a couple of peaks overlooking the site as well.  You can climb both Huayna Picchu and La Montana. Huayna Piccu is the massive mountain most famous in the background of photos of Machu Picchu.  It takes about an hour to climb each mountain.

Where to stay

Aguas Calientes is the stop off point at the base of the mountain where you can stay before or after visiting Machu Picchu.  There are a number of hotels ranging in price in this small town.  I would recommend staying two nights at least, one when you first arrive and one the day after visiting the site.  You want to have a hotel so you can get a good sleep then you wake up early to summit the mountain.

How to get Here

To get to Aguas Calientes, you will first need to get to Cuzco. You can fly or take a bus from Lima. The flight is about 1 hour 15 mintues, and the bus would take you significantly longer at around 8 hours.  You can get to Machu Picchu from Cuzco a number of ways.  The most famous way is to take the train however other options exist. Be forewarned that the train will set you back a hefty price at around $80 each way. Alternatively, you can take a bus to Hidroelectrica, which is an amazing ride up and over the mountains.  Upon reaching Hidroelectrica, you will then walk along the train tracks 15 km to Aguas Calientes.  This is a very adventurous way to get here, and much cheaper to boot.

Alternatives

There are a number of trekking tours from Cuzco to Machu Picchu, for the more adventurous person.  These Tours Range from 1 to 12 days and take you on the Inca Trail and Salkantay trail.  You will stay in high altitude villages with locals and get a real experience of the culture.  It is good to know that only 500 people trekking are allowed to start the Inca Trail each day, so some proper planning will be in order.

Best time to visit Machu Picchu

The best time to visit, as far as weather is concerned would be in July and August.  However, this is the peak season for visiting Machu Picchu and you will find the famous site packed with other visitors.  The rainy season takes place between November and march, so if you plan your trip during this time be aware that rain is probable.  During a February the Inca Trail is closed to trekkers.

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