“Few romances can ever surpass that of the granite citadel on top of the beetling precipices of Machu Picchu, the crown of Inca Land.”-Hiram Bingham-
What is Machu Picchu?
Machu Picchu is a pre-Columbian Incan settlement and it is one of the most famous and most breathtaking places in the world. “The Lost City of the Incas”, located high in the Andes of Peru, has been UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. Machu Picchu is one of the few Incan settlements, that remain intact.
Did you know that it is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World?
History of Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is believed to have been a royal estate for the Incan emperor Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui or sacred religious site for Inca leaders. The Incan city was built in the mid 15th century and it was in use from the mid-15th century to the mid-16th century.
Did you know that, eventually was “The Lost City of the Incas” abandoned, however, the reason is not really clear.
Unfortunately was the whole Incan civilization wiped out by Spanish invaders in the 16th century. Luckily the Spanish didn’t find Machu Picchu so it remained hidden for hundreds of years until the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham stumbled upon it in 1911. That the abandoned Incan citadel exists, was a secret known only to peasants living in the region.
Location of Machu Picchu
The ancient Incan settlement is located in the rocky countryside 80 km (50 miles) northwest of Cuzco, high in the Cordillera de Vilcabamba of the Andes Mountains. Machu Picchu is perched above the Urubamba River valley in a narrow saddle between two sharp peaks Machu Picchu (“Old Peak”) and Huayna Picchu (“New Peak”). The elevation is 2430m (8000 feet).
Exact Location: 13 ° 9 ’47 “South latitude and 72 ° 32′ 44” W, in the province of Urubamba. The nearest major city is Cusco.
I wrote a whole article about The Most Instagrammable Places in Cusco. Click here to read it!
Google Maps Location – click here
Useful Tips for Visiting Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is for me one of the most spectacular I have ever seen in my life! Peru was the 49th country I have visited in May 2019. I can still remember the late afternoon when I first spotted the ancient city of Incas! It literally took my breath away!
I have compiled a list of all the important things you need to know before visiting Machu Picchu! I know how hard is to find correct and helpful information online after the rules for visiting Machu Picchu changed in 2019. I hope you find this blog post useful!
1) BRING YOUR PASSPORT
This is the most important thing for visiting Machu Picchu because without your passport you won’t be allowed to enter the site! Make sure it is your original passport, not a copy! In case you have two passports, make sure it is the same passport you used to buy your entry ticket to Machu Picchu. The same thing applies if you renew your passport after buying the ticket. Your passport has to match the document number on your ticket!
Bringing your passport is a mandatory requirement for all foreigners and it is strictly enforced. No passport = No Machu Picchu ! There are no exceptions!
2) BUY YOUR TICKET WELL IN ADVANCE
My personal recommendation is to buy your ticket at least three months, preferably six months before visiting Machu Picchu to make sure you get your desired date and time. If you also wanna hike Wayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain, booking 6 months in advance is essential in high season.
My Tip: Buy your tickets at the official Machu Picchu Peruvian government website, instead of using third parties services.
The amount of people visiting Machu Picchu per day is limited, so buy your tickets well in advance to avoid disappointment
Buy your tickets at official government website – click here
3) STAY OVERNIGHT AT AQUAS CALIENTES VILLAGE
Weather in Machu Picchu can be very unpredictable, so I recommend you to have at least two days there. It can happen that one day will be the whole ancient Incan city completely covered in fog and you won’t be able to see anything.
I visited Machu Picchu 3 times when I was in Peru. The first time late in the afternoon, which is honestly the best time, because most people left already and it is very quiet and what’s more, the weather tends to be better in the afternoon. The second time I went there the day after early in the morning (6 am entrance) for sunrise, unfortunately, this was the worst time ever. The weather was so crazy that I haven’t seen a thing from Machu Picchu. The whole site was covered with fog and clouds and it stayed there for more than 4 hours. The last visit was in the early afternoon, which was also pretty nice, but it was really crowded.
Make sure you go to Machu Picchu once in the afternoon and once in the morning on two separate days in case the weather is awful. Would be a real shame, if you haven’t seen anything from this World Wonder, because of a thick fog.
4) DON’T BRING TRIPODS, DRONES, WALKING STICKS, UMBRELLAS OR SELFIE STICKS
Tripods, drones and selfie sticks are forbidden in Machu Picchu. You will have to leave it at the entrance if you bring it. Actually any kind of a stick is not allowed, which applies also to walking sticks and umbrellas. The only exception are cranes for elderly people.
5) DON’T BRING FOOD
First of all, food is not allowed inside of Machu Picchu. The only exception are small snacks such as müsli bars or fruit. From drinks is allowed only water.
Please try to bring water in reusable bottle instead of plastic. Also make sure you won’t leave any of your trash lying around and destroying the ancient ruins.
6) THERE ARE NO RESTROOMS
There are no restrooms after entering the gates of Machu Picchu. However, there is one restroom located outside of the main gates, so make sure you use it before entering the ancient ruins. It costs 2 soles.
The most likely reason for not having any restrooms in the complex is that your time for the visit is limited to just 4 hours. Of course, nobody is gonna measure that exactly or kick you out, but there are no restrooms and no food is allowed, which means most people leave after 4 hours.
Remember that once you leave Machu Picchu, you won’t be able to re-enter!
7) YOU CAN’T BACKTRACK
This is one of the new rules, which are in effect from 1 January, 2019. There are different circuits in Machu Picchu, but you always have to follow the one-way path and you can never go back.
You have to follow the set one way circuit and going back is prohibited!
8) LARGE BAGS, BACKPACKS OR SUITCASES ARE PROHIBITED
It is not allowed to bring inside any kind of a big bag! If you show up with a large bag, you will have to leave at the main gates.
9) YOU HAVE TO BE ACCOMPANIED BY AN OFFICIAL PERUVIAN TOUR GUIDE TO BE ABLE TO ENTER THE ANCIENT RUINS
Effective on 1 January 2019, it is compulsory to have a guide to be able to enter the site. Fortunately, you can hire a guide in front of the main entrance. As soon as you arrive there with a bus from Aquas Calientes, you will see many guides hanging around the main gate.
Generally, you shouldn’t pay more than 50 USD for the guide.
My Tip: My personal experience was that this rule was not strictly enforced when I was there in May 2019. However, I decided to hire a guide, since I was alone and I really wanted to take nice pictures and no tripods are allowed.
10) DON’T ACT LIKE A DICK
Rangers are everywhere in Machu Picchu complex and they are strictly enforcing the new rules. If they see you stepping over the ropes or doing some other forbidden things, you will be kicked out of the site.
The main reasons for the new strict rules are besides serious concerns regarding sustainability, also the lack of respect some travelers have shown to the site.
Please treat the ancient site with respect. It deserves it.
11) PET THE CUTE LLAMAS ROAMING AROUND MACHU PICCHU
You can find around 40 llamas roaming around the Machu Picchu complex freely. If you are lucky enough, you will be able to pet them and take a picture with them. In order to do that, you will probably have to stalk them for sometime before you succeed lol.
The llamas are property of the rangers guarding Machu Picchu and they take care of them.
12) TAKE THE SHUTTLE BUS FROM AQUAS CALIENTES TO THE MAIN GATE
The best way how to get to the Lost City of Incas from the Machu Picchu pueblo – Aquas Calientes, where the train station, shops, hotels, and restaurants are located, is to take the bus. You can buy the bus tickets in the village. It is not possible to buy tickets online. The price is 24 USD and the actual ride takes approximately 30 minutes.
Another possibility is to hike up to Machu Pichu gates. This very steep hike takes around two hours.
13) BE PREPARED FOR THE HIGH ALTITUDE
Machu Picchu ruins itself are actually located below 2500 meters (8000 feet), which means you won’t likely get high altitude sickness.
However, what you have to be aware of, is that Cusco, which is the nearest big city and airport, is located at 3400 meters above sea level (11 155 feet).
I wrote a whole article on this topic – How to Acclimate to the High Altitude in Peru. Click here to read it!
Don’t forget to buy some Peruvian souvenirs such as a cute llama toy, backpack, poncho, scarf. They have many beautiful things with Peruvian motives like llamas and alpacas, Inca warriors and much more. You can buy it in every market.
So there you have it guys! Everything you need to know before visiting Machu Picchu. I hope my post answers all your questions. In case you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to comment below or to contact me.
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