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Machu Picchu (Old Mountain) is the site of an ancient Inca city, in the Andes of Peru. Located at 2,430 meters (8,000 feet), this UNESCO World Heritage Site is often referred to as "The Lost City of the Incas", it is one of the best-known symbols of the ancient Inca Empire, and is one of the famous and spectacular ruins in the world. In addition, it is one of the new wonders of the modern world, a visit to Peru would not be complete without visiting Machu Picchu. 

  • Location Machu Picchu: The city of Machu Picchu is located in the highest part of the eastern Andes (high jungle area) on the Urubamba River and northwest of Cusco, 2,300 meters above sea level (7,546 feet) 
  • Distances to Machu Picchu: From Cusco: 112 Km. (70 miles) - From Lima: 1,277 Km. (794 miles) 
  • Population in Machu Picchu: 1,216 inhabitants (local) and 1,000 daily visitors (approx.) 
  • Climate of Machu Picchu: The average annual temperature is 16 ° C and the annual rainfall is 1500 mm and 3000 mm at low altitudes. At 2,500 meters altitude the average low temperature is 10.2 ° C, and the annual precipitation is 2170 mm. The dry weather season lasts from May to September and the wet weather season from October to April. 

 

How to get to Machu Picchu? 

Visitors to Machu Picchu usually leave Cusco, either on a day trip, or spend the night in Aguas Calientes, which allows you to visit the park early or late in the day and avoid the worst of crowds. There are 2 options to arrive in the magical citadel of Machu Picchu (from Aguas Calientes):

 

At Bus:  

From Aguas Calientes there are frequent buses that leave you to the ruins ($ 7 each way) from 5:30 in the morning. There is often a line of people, so if you are determined to be on the first bus, you must arrive at least 90 minutes early. The trip takes about half an hour to the park. 

 

Walking: 

Hikes on the Inca Trail is a great way for you to get there and you can see the city through the Sun Gate or Inti Punku in quechua (instead of arriving from below as it is done from Aguas Calientes). Travelers should be fit enough to walk for days and sleep in tents. From Aguas Calientes, it is also possible to walk along a similar 8km trail where the buses work, which will take about 1-2 hours, and about an hour back. This route is mainly stairs, which connects the zigzag that the buses take. It is an exhausting and long walk, but it is very rewarding, it is recommended to start at 4 am to reach the top before dawn. The descent is quite easy, just be careful when the steps are wet. Be alert with buses, as drivers rarely use the brake with pedestrians. 

 

Tickets to Machu Picchu 

It is in first place because you can get to Cusco, have the train tickets, and even get to the town of Aguas Calientes, but if you do not book Machu Picchu tickets in advance, most likely I just got there. Book Machu Picchu tickets in advance. Well unless you enter through the "Inca Trail", the date on your Machu Picchu tickets will depend on other reservations of your trip, train tickets, hotels, air tickets and even guides, if you decide to come in high season. 

  • Important: You can reserve Machu Picchu tickets with weeks in advance, however to come in high season, we recommend doing it at least two months before. Regardless of whether you come in high season or at any other time, we recommend booking Machu Picchu tickets with the Huayna Picchu mountain (Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu ticket) 4 months in advance; It is the only way to secure an income and choose the day and group you want to travel this mountain. 

Visa for Peru 

In general, if you are Latin American, North American or European, you will not need it. If you are a member of the Andean Community of Nations (CAN), you can enter Peru only by carrying your ID or your current passport. If you are not a member of the mentioned places you will need a valid passport and in some exceptional cases, depending on your country of origin, a visa. Here you can check if you will need one. If you are a minor you will need to enter in the company of your parents. If you are a father, you will need a document that identifies you as such, also know that if you have children under the age of 8, they will not have to pay for the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu. 

 

Vaccines?

No vaccination is mandatory, but the Ministry of Health of Peru "recommends" getting vaccinated against yellow fever, if after visiting Machu Picchu you will visit places like "El Manu" or others in the jungle of Peru. Therefore, you will not need any vaccination especially if you only come to Machu Picchu in Cusco. In several countries this vaccine is free and if it costs, it is not expensive. 

Best guided tours to Machu Picchu: 

Take your time walking around the place, there are many corners to see and explore. Although it is not necessary, taking a guided tour provides a deeper insight into the ancient city, its uses, as well as information about the geography of it. Keep in mind that relatively little is known about the history and uses of the ruins, and some of the stories told by the guides are based on little more than popular hearsay. 

  • Sun Gate (IntiPunku): If you have just arrived through the Inca Trail, this will be your first experience in the ruins. Others can backtrack from the ruins along the road and up the hill. From here you can see down each valley with beautiful views. It is a very demanding walk (probably 1 or 1.5 hours in each direction), but it is well worth it. 
  • Sun Temple: Near the top of the main city, the stone in the temple is amazing. Look closely and you will see that there is a variety of stone walls throughout the city. Most are rough stones joined with mud, the common stone walls that are found all over the world. However, many buildings or parts of real estate are made with the most distinctive and impressive stone. The temple is the absolute pinnacle of this technology. Observe from the side, descending the stone staircase in the main square. 
  • Intihuatana: A stone carved so that, on certain days at dawn, the sun makes a particular shadow, functioning as well as a sundial. According to some scientists, the meaning "where the sun (inti) is tied (or tied)", and is believed to serve as a calendar, to define the seasons, according to the shade given by the sun to the base of that stone. 
  • Temple of the Three Windows: Whose walls of large polygonal blocks were assembled like a puzzle Main Temple, with more regular blocks, which is believed to be the main ceremonial site of the city. Attached to this is the so-called "house of the priest" or "chamber of ornaments". 
  • Temple of the Condor:  The tour guides may try to tell you that it was a temple, but look closely: between the wings of the condor is a camera with grooves made in the stone to secure handcuffs, a corridor behind where a torturer can walk to whip to the back of the prisoner, and a well of fear that seeks to drain the blood of the prisoners. It is clear that the condor was a symbol of cruel justice, but an aseptic version is told for the benefit of middle-aged tourists and their children. 

Altitude sickness: 

Perhaps I have never experienced the lack of oxygen. This will be very noticeable in Cusco because it is at 3,400 masl, even more if it comes from cities near sea level. Height makes you feel that everything costs three times as much effort; so your usual physical resistance will be diminished, your digestion will be slower and your sleep will be dense and deep. The best thing to do is to not make any effort on the first day to acclimatize. You can find pills against altitude sickness at any of the pharmacies in Cusco. We recommend you to drink plenty of coca tea, it is an effective remedy and used since the time of the Incas. You will also find coca candy. 

Arrive at Machu Picchu: 

All the ways to get to Machu Picchu are excellent, incredible nature, beautiful landscapes. It is not essential to do the "Inca Trail", or the train tickets; the only indispensable thing is the Machu Picchu tickets. There are several ways to get to Machu Picchu, you can reach: 
  • By train: The train is one of the most used and fastest ways to get to Machu Picchu; around 85% of visitors to Machu Picchu use this service; however, at present it has become necessary to book train tickets in advance, otherwise you just have to choose between the most expensive services. Then just book your Machu Picchu tickets, book your train tickets, through IncaRail or PeruRail.
  • 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 different versions, trekking of two and four days. It is extremely important to have a good physical condition. The walk ends at what was the main entrance to Machu Picchu during the time of the Incas, known as the "Puerta del Sol" (Intipunku); But for some reason, many believe that it is the only way to get there. You can only access this small group (500) by booking in advance. 
  • By the alternative route of Santa María: This alternative route goes from Cusco to Santa María, then through Santa Teresa and ends in Aguas Calientes; It is the preferred route for backpackers and people who want to save the cost of train tickets. It is a bit long but allows you to enjoy the scenery in the most economical way and trek with the same landscapes as the last days of the Inca trail, but less exhausting. 

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