10 Tips to Help Prepare for Visiting Machu Picchu
Ever dreamed of visiting Machu Picchu? Or have you got a trip book already? One of our featured writers, Nathalie Pye recently experienced this magical site for herself and below she shares her top ten things to keep in mind when going to Machu Picchu.
1. Wear Good Shoes
By good I mean shoes that you feel comfortable walking all day in. The train or car you take will leave you a few kilometres outside the town near Machu Picchu called Aguas Calientes. If you don’t want to pay the $25 for the 40 minute train ride its about a two and a half hour walk. To get to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes you can do a one hour uphill hike or take a shuttle bus for about $10 one way. There is A LOT of walking to do in Machu Picchu itself . Whether you choose to climb Huayna Picchu, Machu Picchu, or just explore the ruins itself, you are constantly going up and down on often steep and narrow stairs. You don’t want tired feet.
2. Take Water
You’ll be doing a lot of physical activity that day and if the sun is out, that place heats up fast. It’s also at a higher altitude than most people are used to. It’s lower than nearby Cusco but you don’t want to risk getting sick and ruining your trip.
3. Get Snacks
We were told than you were allowed to eat snacks inside as long as you kept your garbage with you and brought it out of the site when you left. If you want to see everything inside, (Machu Picchu is bigger than most people realize) you’re going to be several hours. Don’t let your day be ruined by a rumbly tummy.
4. Wear Sunscreen
Being at a higher altitude means you’re closer to the sun, making sun burn very easy. Put on some sunscreen before you leave to any skin that’s going to be exposed.
5. Pack Lightly
Large packs aren’t allowed in Machu Picchu but don’t try to cram a bunch of things into a smaller pack. You’re going to walking around a lot and mostly up and downhill. You don’t want a lot of extra weight on you tiring you out.
6. Toilet Advice
Go to the bathroom before you get in the site. There are no washrooms in Machu Picchu. Go before you line up so that you wont have to leave in the middle of exploring and line up to get back in again. It costs 1 sol to use the washroom at the entrance to Machu Picchu.
7. Hire a Guide
It’s worth it to hire a guide. Getting to Machu Picchu is pretty straightforward and there are so many tourists that it’s pretty safe to get there on your own. Once inside the site though, there aren’t any plaques telling you what things are. It’s nice to be able to go to a place and take some information back with you. The guides will give a bit of history and explain the different uses for the buildings, temples and plazas. There are plenty of guides outside the entrance that speak different languages that you can hire.
8. Huayna Picchu
If you plan to climb Huayna Picchu make sure you try to book well in advance. Only 400 people are allowed to climb Huayna Picchu everyday. If you plan to do the trek make sure you secure your spot early, especially if you plan on going during the high season.
9. Buy Tickets in Advance
Make sure you have your ticket the day before. You don’t want to be waiting in lines all day so make sure you have your Machu Picchu entrance ticket the day before. You can’t buy tickets at the site so make sure you have one before you leave Aguas Calientes. This way if you take the bus or walk to Machu Picchu, you don’t have to wait until the ticket office opens in the morning.
10. Open Your Eyes
Don’t forget to look away from camera every now and then. It is absolutely beautiful and while you may want to reconstruct the ruins for your friends and family back home, don’t forget to take it all in yourself.
By Nathalie Pye
You can also follow Nathalie on Twitter.
Feeling inspired to visit Peru/Machu Picchu? We have some fantastic group tours in Peru and Machu Picchu treks available for all levels and abilities - you can book ahead and join all year round. Or if you are looking for something a little more rewarding why not stay a little longer and search volunteering programs in Peru or find ideas for taking a gap year in Peru.