How To Get To Machu Picchu, Peru
It’s one of the Wonders of the World and growing in interest year after year. It’s currently estimated that over 70% of tourists visiting Peru are bound for Machu Picchu. Getting to the Inca citadel isn’t like a usual excursion but actually unfolds in a number of steps that require preplanning. Understanding the process and knowing what to expect can go a long way towards getting the most from your adventure. Most visits begin in the Inca city of Cusco a number of hours by bus or train away from the famous Inca citadel site.
The Inca Trail – For the more adventurous (and fit) a hike into the mountains is one way to visit Machu Picchu. These treks are usually two to four day hikes over the mountains to Machu Picchu. They are booked with agencies that provide guides who handle provisions, and are experienced with the route and setting up camp on the ancient trails. For an excellent article on walking The Inca Trail click HERE. The trail is an over five hundred year old path or road paved with stones that includes stairs carved into the rock. For more information on a recommended trail company click HERE.
Machu Picchu – Getting into the archeological site requires admission tickets along with tickets for a round trip bus ride up the mountain 9a two hour hike up the mountain and back is also an option). The number of people admitted to Machu Picchu is limited each day to only about 5,000 and the time inside the area is usually limited to three hours. A visit requires an admission ticket for specifically designated time and area to visit with cost starting at about US$34 per person. The busiest time each year are the months of July and August with the rainy season being from January through March. For more information or to by tickets click HERE.
The Day Trip – the most typical journey begins with a stay of a couple of days in the Sacred Valley at a hotel, an eco-lodge or a hostel. From there take a day trip by train from the nearest station in the valley to Machu Picchu’s gateway town of Aguas Calientes at the base of the mountain. Getting to the train from your hotel can also include a ride in a local three wheeled taxi popular in the valley.
Pachar Station in the Sacred Valley
Grounds at Tierra Viva in the Sacred Valley
The Town Of Aguas Calientes
Staying In Aguas Calientes – this is the town focused on visitors to the Inca Trail, the mountains and Machu Picchu. It’s actually an attractive area and has been developed around the Machu Picchu train station. It offers a good range of nice restaurants, shops, hostels and hotels. To get to Aguas Calientes there are a number of options for train service from Cusco along with bus tours. The town is a great base for Machu Picchu adventures.
Exiting the train station at Aguas Calientes
Machu Picchu By Train – Another convenient way to get there is taking a train from Cusco to Machu Picchu using IncaRail or PeruRail. Look for service to Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu for your destination and returning to Cusco. The trip averages five hours each way and tickets can be purchased that include the bus service up to Machu Picchu. Both train services also offer package tours that include train fare, accommodations and entry into the archeological site. Both train companies provide a number of levels of service and a number of trains per day.
The Inca citadel itself is a marvel to see and experience. Perched high atop a mountain at 7,972 feet and protected by shear cliffs, it’s very difficult to understand how it was built. The main part of Machu Picchu is an arrangement of public squares, store houses, residents, temples and terraced gardens, all constructed from carved and stacked stones with some weighing up to18 tons. The famous temple stones are so perfectly fitted together without using mortar that a piece of paper cannot be slid between the joins. On a couple of higher peaks towering above the main citadel are more buildings and terraced gardens. These can be reached using well marked trails and carved steps.
Entrance and bus stop at Machu Picchu
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