The journey to Peru is incomplete without visiting the coveted Machu Picchu. It has one of the most remarkable structures globally and is every prehistorian’s dream. If you like sightseeing mountains, museums, and other unique structures, Machu Picchu has more than enough elevations. It’s little wonder that it is at the top of most tourists’ pecking order.
What’s more? Some studies have shown that Peru’s Inca modernization was established in the fifteenth century. Although in most cases, people call it the ‘abandoned city of the Incas.’ However, in the real sense of it, it is the ‘Lost City of the Vilcabamba.’
In our 1 month in Cusco in Dec 2021, we, unfortunately, didn’t get to visit this world wonder as the government imposed a restriction that non-vaccinated people are not permitted to enter.
Hence, I thought I’d write a guide about Machu Picchu based on all the information we researched from going to different tour operators in Cusco and surveying their routes.
The best part is that there are numerous ways to visit Machu Picchu. These options allow you to explore as many places as possible while you are there.
Whether you have the luxury of time and cash or you have a limited budget or limited time to explore Machu, we’ll walk you through how to travel to Machu Picchu in several ways. Either way, you can optimize your individual needs!
Eating is one of the best choices to make when travelling to Machu Picchu. It gives more energy to enjoy your stay to its fullest. This thus makes it also essential to introduce a few restaurants in Machu Picchu to help you work around quality and cost-effective meals. The Voyage to Machu Picchu just got easier! Let’s go.
- Where is Machu Picchu located?
- Elevation in Machu Picchu, Peru
- When are the Best Times to Visit Machu Picchu, Peru?
- Tickets to Machu Picchu, Peru
- Visiting Machu Picchu, Peru
- Restaurants in Machu Picchu
Where is Machu Picchu located?
First off, Machu Picchu connotes ‘old mountain’ christened after the location of the Inca fortress. Located in the northeastward part of Cusco, Peru, this architectural gem comprises several temples, water platforms, and other admirable structures.
Machu Picchu is the most leisurely place in Peru. Plus, it’s a hallowed place for the Incas. This is because some contemporary archaeologists believe that Machu was the ancient-day estate for the Inca nobles. These archaeologists theorize that Spanish exploiters robbed them of their nobility and modernization in the sixteenth century.
The Incas have always idolized geographical features. It is not surprising that other archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was a religious place owing to the extensive collections of mountains and other architectural elements that the Incas held in high esteem.
What’s more? Machu Picchu is built in a stone estate built on a mountaintop, and it’s about 2,500 m (8202 ft) high.
Elevation in Machu Picchu, Peru
It would help if you kept altitude in mind when travelling to Machu Picchu. The elevation in Machu Picchu is not so high. The saddle of the mountain is about 2,408 m (7,900 ft) above sea level.
However, Cusco is where tourists pass through before getting to Picchu. It has an elevation of about 3,399 m (11152 ft). It’s not surprising that most tourists suffer from altitude sickness when they stick around there.
When are the Best Times to Visit Machu Picchu, Peru?
The best times to visit Machu Picchu depend on what you want. Of course, you can visit the place at any time of the year. But it would help if you considered several factors to cater to your specific needs. One of the most significant factors includes the weather in Machu Picchu. Other factors are the mode of transportation and the number of people you’ll likely encounter.
Visiting in the Shoulder Season
The shoulder period in Machu Picchu is when you can expect a subtle mix of the dry weather and a large crowd.
Typically, the shoulder period occurs in May, June, September, and October. During those periods, there are minimal downpours. Travellers would have to deal with a large crowd due to low incidences of rainfall. But the crowd is not as many as those you would come across during the busy period.
If you’re looking to spend your time in Machu Picchu in good weather conditions, the shoulder period is an excellent choice. The reason’s simple; the chances are that you will avoid the downpour. Also, you can walk at your own pace without getting overrun by other tourists.
Visiting During the Busiest Period
The busiest period in Machu Picchu has to do with a large number of tourists or visitors. It takes place in July and August.
The months mentioned above typically produce the steadiest weather in Machu Picchu. Yes, a lot of visitors are aware of this. That’s why they would instead visit the place en masse at this time of the year. So, in any case, the period often generates the most significant number of tourists found in Pichhu in the entire year.
If you love being in crowds and want to enjoy the excellent weather in Machu Picchu, you should get going. The downside of the period is that you might have to share your space with a lot of people while you queue.
However, if crowds make you anxious, it would help not to travel to Machu Picchu during these periods.
Visiting in Dry Weather
Machu Picchu’s dry season typically stretches from the middle of April to the end of October. During these months, cooler air and intense sunshine overwhelm the weather forecast. However, you can’t avoid rainfalls and mists. They’ll come often.
Tourists have the luxury to relish a refreshing, sunny day during these months. However, like the busy period in Picchu, you’ll have to make do with larger crowds.
If you want to explore Machu Picchu with a few friends, the dry season is a great pick.
Visiting During the Rainy Period
The rainy period in Machu Picchu stretches from November to April. It rains every day. On top of it, storms sometimes come with a downpour.
Rain showers might be the most significant threat at this period. But on the bright side, the number of tourists that visit Machu Picchu is at a minimum. In any case, you can quickly enjoy a few quiet walks at your pace. However, you’ll want to fetch a raincoat and a pair of rain shoes.
For the record, the wettest months are usually from January to March. It’d be best to take this into account when planning your trip.
Best Time of the Day to visit Machu Picchu
Notwithstanding the weather in the period you want to visit the Machu Picchu, the time of the day you go can make or spoil; the quality of your experience in the place.
Machu Picchu’s opening hours run from 6:00 am to 5:00 pm every day. So, you can expect many people to arrive in the mid-morning and hold out till mid-afternoon or evening.
Tourists that don’t enjoy being in crowds can arrive there early in the morning and leverage the smaller crowds, or they can reach there in the mid-afternoon as some visitors begin to leave.
Adopting the strategy above might cost you a night reservation at one of the local guest houses. But it’s worth it to stick around such a historical place with a smaller crowd.
Tickets to Machu Picchu, Peru
Have you ever thought about it? How much do tickets to Machu Picchu cost? The Peruvian Ministry of Culture typically publishes the ticket prices every year on its website. To this effect, they have published the 2022 ticket prices online.
The prices vary depending on the nationality of the tourist and the ticket type. Students can also purchase the ticket at subsidized rates. Let’s look at them:
Machu Picchu Ticket
Adult – USD 62
Students – USD 41
Adult – USD 37
Students – USD 27
Picchu Mountain + Circuit 3 Tickets
Adult – USD 86
Students – USD 57
Adult – USD 54
Students – USD 40
Huayna + Circuit 4 Tickets
Adult – USD 86
Students – USD 56
Adult – USD 54
Students – USD 49
There are also Machu Museum Tickets and Huchuy Picchu Mountain + Circuit 4 Tickets.
Visiting Machu Picchu, Peru
Travelling from Lima to Machu Picchu, Peru
Most people arrive at Lima first before getting to Machu Picchu. There are numerous options to move from Lima to Machu Picchu. The first step is to get to Cusco from Lima first.
There are 3 ways to reach Cusco from Lima. Let’s dive into them!
Altitude sickness is rampant among visitors who travel to Cusco. This can be serious, and the reason’s simple. Cusco’s nearly 3048 m (10,000 ft) above sea level.
As such, industry experts have suggested that travelling by bus minimizes the chances of having altitude sickness, unlike travelling by plane.
If travelling by air freaks you out, then it’d be best not to travel to Cusco via the air. It’s because the plane passes through the Andes Mountains. The mountains, paired with the stormy weather, might scare you, but this could be an excellent option for you if you love thrills.
If you like travelling by train, you might get frustrated when going to Cusco. It’s because there are limited trains at work. However, there’s a way to continue the rest of your journey by train.
The trick is to stop at Puno. Perhaps, the Puno train can take you to Cusco. The train takes 10 hours to reach Cusco, and the fees are a bit expensive. A one-way journey costs about $220. With all that said, it is a stimulating experience.
Travelling from Cusco to Machu Picchu, Peru
Regardless of the transportation modes you’ve taken, you’ve made it thus far! Now it’s time to travel from Cusco to Machu Picchu.
There are 2 primary ways of travelling from Cusco to Picchu. Let’s explore them.
First Option: Hike to Machu Picchu
Taking a hike to Machu Picchu gives you a memorable experience. Hiking is another new adventure that comes your way when you visit Machu Picchu. So many sceneries to enjoy throughout the entire walk.
There are 3 common ways to take a hike to Machu Picchu. Let’s explore them below.
1. Inca Trail
The Inca Trail is the most popular hike in Peru and the only option that allows tourists to trek directly to Picchu.
The downside is that it allows only 500 tickets per day, so you need to reserve a spot 6 months in advance for the 4-day hike.
It’ll cost you at least USD 600, but it is worth every penny you spend. The fee includes feeding, entrance tickets and many others. Plus, you’ll have the luxury of observing snow-capped hills and other geographical gems while you trek.
Typically, it’s a 4-day hike with overnight camping, but there are options for 2-5 days.
2. Inca Jungle Hike
The Inca Jungle Hike is the most adventurous way to arrive at Machu Picchu. It’s not regular hiking as it’s a subtle mix of cycling and river rafting. It also involves a portion of ziplining.
If you’re on a limited budget and still want to have a pleasant experience, the Inca Jungle Hike is for you. Fees stretch from USD 150 to USD 300. Unlike the Inca trail, you don’t need to reserve a spot in advance.
3. Salkantay Hike
The Salkantay Hike is an excellent alternative to the Inca Trail, but it’s even more challenging. It’ll make you cross over one of the highest hills and densest jungles in Peru.
The upside is that it allows an unlimited number of travellers. Plus, you can always book a spot for the hike 2 days in advance. Fees run from USD 250 to $350.
Second Option: Train & Bus
The fastest way to arrive at Machu Picchu is to first take a 2-hour bus ride to Ollantaytambo. After that, you can take a 1.5-hour train to Aguas Calientes.
Once you get to Aguas Calientes, it’d help to buy some tickets at the Ollantaytambo station. After that, you can travel directly to Picchu by bus or via a hike.
Alternatively, you can purchase the train ticket at one of the 2 train operator offices in Cusco, PeruRail and Inca Rail. They’ll handle your bus + transport from Cusco to Machu Picchu.
This is the costlier version but promises gorgeous views along the way. The price is usually around USD 150 but they do offer occasional discounts so it’s worth looking at their websites to check it out.
Restaurants in Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu has limited options for restaurants due to its mountainside location. In fact, there are only 2 options.
- Tinkuy Restaurant
- Picchu Snack bar
All other restaurants are within Aguas Calientes, and they are at least 30-minutes from Picchu.
Tourists cannot eat inside the archaeological site. But if you come with lunch boxes, you can use the small compartment beside the entrance to eat from your lunch packages.
Even though we never got to visit this world wonder, we did make some trips to Humantay Lagoon, Rainbow Mountain and the Sacred Valley, where we spent Christmas at. I highly recommend booking these trips if you’re in Cusco.
We hope you find this guide helpful in planning your trip to Machu Picchu!