How to get to Machu Picchu and visit the Inca ruins in Cusco – Peru

Without doubt the star visit of any trip to Peru is the Inca city of Machu Picchu. But when organizing the visit one finds that the possibilities of how to get to Machu Picchu and how to organize the visit are several, and many things have to be decided. I tell you possibilities, what was our choice in each case and the reason why we chose it.

However, if we talk about the visit to the best known Inca archaeological site in the world, there are no longer the options that we enjoyed during our tour of Machu Picchu. At the end of this post I leave an annex with these changes and the place where to consult all the changes to take into account to visit the icon of Peru.

How to get to Machu Picchu

In this case we have three main options:

  1. A) The Inca Trail is the longest and best known of the South American routes and ends in Machu Picchu. If someone wants to do it, they must take into account that it is essential to do it on an organized route with guides and porters, that they will need five days to travel it and that they will have to book well in advance because each day they can start the trip a limited number of travelers.
  2. B) From Sta Teresa by train or walking through several points on different buses, in the end you need to walk about two hours to finish in Aguas Calientes.
  3. C) By train from the Sacred Valley with Peru Rail or Inca Rail. The first of these companies has several trains and schedules that go from Ollantaytambo direct to Aguas Calientes. It takes an hour and a half, and it is possible to take trains of two categories at different times and with different prices. That same train company also has departures from Cusco, the journey lasts three and a half hours to Aguas Calientes. There are many fewer options to choose schedule and of course the price is higher. There is a third option to arrive by train to the Inca city which is to start the trip in Urubamba. In this case it takes two and a half hours.

We chose the C, first for a matter of time since we did not have the four days necessary for option a, and second for comfort, since even if it involves a saving of money we did not compensate for the time and discomforts that the option entailed b.

Where to stay

  1. A) Aguas Calientes
    B) Ollantaytambo
    C) Cusco

In this case, our option was B. For less money, better services for the traveler than in option a and only an hour and a half train to Aguas Calientes. We arrived in that way to the city at 8:30 in the morning, very good time to enjoy the place all day. Option c was ruled out by distance, the beating by train and the little time left to spend in Machu Picchu.

How to climb Machu Picchu

  1. A) Walking
    B) By bus

The walk up is about an hour of steps along a fairly steep slope. We were going to go up to Waynapicchu, so we thought it would be best to get on the bus and not start the visit to the exhausted ruins. The bus is not exactly cheap, but in view of what one has already spent, a few dollars were not going to take us out of the poor. Option B again.

How to make the visit (from July 1 it is mandatory to do the guided tour)

  1. A) with a guide
    B) by free

We are little friends of someone directing us when we visit any place, we prefer to go documented and thus move to our air without anyone telling us where to go and how long we are going to stop at each place, so that you will already have Guessed that our option was B. That if, when there was a group near us, we listened in case there was something we hadn’t discovered yet.

Climb to Waynapicchu

  1. A) Yes
    B) No

We chose option A, and I am happy about it. We decided in time to buy the ticket since only 400 people can go up every day. The truth is that it is a beating: there are many steps, some narrow and slippery, which adds to the height at which we are so that exhaustion multiplies at every step. Once above you have a totally different image of the city that is worthwhile but that does not even reach the beauty of the view that we have contemplated so many times in photos.


Where to start the visit (now the visit is guided, you have to go where the guide says)

  1. A) On the left
    B) On the right

Although all the arrows and directions indicate going to the left we chose option B, we had to be at 10 in the morning at the access to Huayna Picchu and that road was shorter. Thanks to this we saw everything with less people (visitors often follow the arrows) and we also left for the end the most interesting part that is undoubtedly the temple area.

Where to eat (if you go out, you can re-enter)

  1. A) Go outside the ruins
    B) Eat sitting with incomparable views

Before they apparently controlled a lot that people did not enter with food or disposable bottles, but that has changed. You can easily carry water and something to eat in your backpack, nobody will take it away. We were clear that ours would be option A, so when we were hungry we looked for a special place to sit in a shadow and have a light but sufficient snack to continue researching Machu Picchu.

How much time to spend in Machu Picchu (now you will have to choose morning or afternoon shift)

  1. A) What it takes to see the place
    B) What the body holds

Well, we also knew that B was our option. We had invested a lot of money in this day trip and we knew that we would not return, so we decided to dedicate hours and hours to the place, browse every corner, sit down and contemplate the place from all the places that invited it, and above all, we wanted See the place with the different lights of the day. In addition and as a gift we take to walk at the end of the day in a city almost abandoned by tourists.

As a personal recommendation, and since July 1 you have to choose tomorrow or afternoon to visit Machu Picchu, I would stay with the afternoon. The last hours of the day give a very special light. And although some speak of the dawn in Machu Picchu, I assure you that the evening light with the sky still blue and the green meadows is a gift.

Search for the best photo

  1. A) Yes
    B) No

You can do it without a doubt, we did it too. But from now I tell you that this photo is made. It is the image of the ruins with the mountains in the background. It’s the perfect angle, no other point in the complex will offer you a better photo than that; the one we all have of Machu Picchu in the retina. The pity is that this image has just entered and nothing can improve it.

Return to Aguas Calientes

  1. A) Walking
    B) By bus

We bought that morning only the one-way ticket to Machu Picchu thinking that maybe we could walk down in the afternoon, but we were so exhausted after all day walking and the climb to Waynapicchu that we gladly paid the amount of the ticket again to return by bus to the village. Therefore, option B.

Now you have to choose you and form your own travel map, from how to get to Machu Picchu to how to make the visit once there. Whatever the safe choice is right and you will enjoy this unique place of Peru , because every traveler must live the experience according to their taste and their possibilities.

Changes in access and visit to Machu Picchu 2017

From July 1, 2017 there are new rules for access and visit to Machu Picchu. All the information in this regard can be found in a statement with the complementary measures for the visit to Machu Picchu. If you want to see it, click here .

There are several important changes to consider:
Two access turns:

The one in the morning is from 6 to 12. The one in the afternoon, from 12 to 17:30 hours. It seems that with this one it is tried that the visitors are distributed throughout the day in its route by the ruins. When we went to Machu Picchu we met a lot of people in the morning. However, during the afternoon we were almost alone. Despite the schedule, the statement explains that if you enter at 10 in the morning, your four hours will count from that moment. And if you have late entry, you can access even at 11 in the morning. What is not the way in which it is going to be controlled who should leave and who can follow in the enclosure at all times. I guess you will always have to go with the access ticket at hand.

If you leave the premises you will not be able to enter again.

All visitors must access Machu Picchu with an official guide . Groups will never exceed 20 people and the tour with this guide will be about two hours. The rest of the time can be spent exploring the Inca ruins for free. If you travel for free this will be an additional expense to add to your visit. If you have a ticket to go up to Huayna Picchu you will have to make the visit with the guide before or after. You will climb the mountain on your own.

If you want to return to Machu Picchu , you can do it without paying more. All visitors who entered the Inca city accompanied by a tour guide, may enter the next day without a tour guide, showing the ticket of the previous day and indicating the name of the tour guide that accompanied them.

After carefully reading the statement about the changes in the visit to Machu Picchu I have the feeling that the only real change is to get more income through the hiring of guides. Although there are places for the number of visitors in each shift, there will be hours in which visitors of both shifts gather within the enclosure. Not to mention everyone who returns the next day to make the visit for free with their ticket the day before. It is a personal opinion, of course. Hopefully these changes benefit everyone and visitors can enjoy and learn more about this exceptional place.


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