Machu Picchu is a major tourist destination in Peru and the most famous place in South-America. Visit here is associated with various difficulties and great expense, so we will write useful information.
When to go
From April to October, high season from June to August. We were there on May 10-12, the weather was good, despite the terrible forecasts.
How much does a comfortable visit to Machu Picchu cost
Two persons, Cusco is the starting point, no own transport.
$70-80 - a taxi to the train with a visit of sights $20-30 - lunch or dinner in Ollantaytambo (for two persons) $50-70 - train to Machu Picchu (per person) $50-60 - overnight in the village of Machu Picchu $45 - tickets to Machu Picchu (per person) $25 - bus ticket to Machu Picchu (roundtrip, per person) $30 - lunch in the village of Machu Picchu (for two persons) $80-100 - ticket for the return train to Poroy (per person) $10 - taxi to Cusco
The total amount for two with one night in Machu Picchu: $590. Read below how to save money.
History of Machu Picchu
Just watch the following documentaries:
National Geographic: Ancient Megastructures History Channel: Secrets of Machu Picchu
One-day tours to Machu Picchu from Cusco
Many travel agencies in Cusco offer day tours to Machu Picchu. They are very popular and if you have a small budget, this is the only option. However, these tours are complete mess. You get up very early and for 1.5 hours travel on a minibus, then 1.5 hours on the train and then 30 minutes on the bus to Machu Picchu. Of course, you have to do the same trip back to Cusco on the same day. Because of the long transfer you will not be in the best shape at Machu Picchu.
There are a lot of information on the Internet. We recommend the following option if you are traveling with one overnight stay. Buy a ticket for the evening train. Take a taxi in Cusco, visit Chinchero, Moray, Maras, then go to Ollantaytambo. If you come in Ollantaytambo 3-4 hours prior to departure of the train, then leave things at the station and walk around the city, visit the ruins. Come back to the train and in 1.5 hours you are in the village of Machu Picchu.
Back from Machu Picchu, you can buy tickets not to Ollantaytambo, but to Poroy, and there take a taxi to Cusco. Tickets for the train is better to buy in advance online. Expedition train is cheaper, Vistadome train is more expensive and there is almost no difference between them.
Another option is the Inca Trail. 4-day walking route is offered by all travel agencies in Cusco. And if you are extreme person, then search in goolgle for "Inka Jungle trek to Machu Picchu".
What to do if there is no money?
Alternative (crazy) route: - Bus Cusco - Santa Maria (6 hours, $5-6, morning bus at 7:30) - Bus (1.5 hours) or taxi (1 hour, $3-4) Santa Maria - Santa Teresa - Taxi (1 hour, $2-3) Santa Teresa - Hydroelectrica - On foot (3 hours) Hydroelectrica - Machu Picchu Pueblo / Aguas Calientes
You will pass the bridge, leading to Machu Picchu, so in the morning you can start your ascent. If you come in the evening, then go to the village and spend the night in the hostel (such as Angie's hostel) for $5-10. Read here a good description of this route.
We walked a little in the direction of Hydroelectrica and saw a lot of tourists used this route. Believe me, their faces were not happy.
Also, you can save money and buy only one-way tickets for the bus to Machu Picchu.
There is a very interesting option which was told us by German students. They rented mopeds in Cusco, reached Hydroelectrica, spent the night in a tent and in the morning climbed to Machu Picchu. On the same day they returned to mopeds and went to Cusco.
The village of Machu Picchu
Trains bring you to the village of Machu Picchu: Aguas Calientes or just Machu Picchu pueblo. It is a small town, used to serve tourists visiting Machu Picchu.
The most important thing you need to know about the village is that prices here are insane. They even cheat in the restaurants, by adding some fees to the bills, which can be postponed.
As you can see from the photos, a river flows through the village. Keep this in mind when choosing a hotel. If it is near the river, the noise in the room can be very loud. Here is view from our window.
Near the bridge, leading to Machu Picchu located a Museum of Machu Picchu and a small botanical garden.
The ascent to Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is located 500 meters above the village.
Buses to Machu Picchu leave from the center. Two-way ticket cost $25 (2015). Of course you can walk on foot for free, although we can recommend this route, only if you are doing this for fun. But don't do this to save money, that's stupid. Don't forget that you need a lot of energy at the Machu Picchu.
So, if you are full of energy, then start from the village at 4:30 in the morning. At 5 am you can cross the bridge and start your ascent.
Weather in Machu Picchu
For us it was a discovery that Machu Picchu is located in the jungle. Despite the fact that on all the photos we see the mountains, here is real jungle.
Almost every morning at Machu Picchu is foggy. Fog can dissipate at 9 am, 11 am or may not dissipate at all. In addition, rains are frequent. That is why we strongly recommend to come here for more than 1 day. It is expensive, but imagine your disappointment when you will see such Machu Picchu.
There is a daily quota of visitors, so it's good idea to buy tickets in advance. If you want to buy tickets on site, then remember that they are sold only in the village and not on the top, near the entrance.
There are three main types of tickets: 1. Standard, the cheapest, $45 (ISIC provides a 50% discount) 2. With the rise to the Huaynapiccu mountain (in a predefined time slot) 3. With the rise to the Montana / Machu Picchu mountain (in a predefined time slot)
2nd and 3rd type of ticket can only be bought in advance on the Internet, as the demand for them is very large and there is a daily quota of 400 tickets.
One more tip. If you start climbing to the mountain at 7 am then you will be at the top about 9 am At this time, there can be a thick fog and you will see absolutely nothing! It will be a complete failure, as the fog can dissipate at 11 am or even at 13 am.
The infrastructure on the territory of Machu Picchu
No toilets, no food, no water. Only at the entrance.
What to do at Machu Picchu
Since we were there for three days, our route will not suit to most of the tourists. We will describe the best one-day visit without climbing the mountain.
You have to take the bus at 5:30 and arrive at 6:00 - 6:30 am. Probably it will be foggy at that time, so at first go to visit the city.