This post was most recently updated on April 20th, 2019
Visiting Machu Picchu
You’ve been learning Spanish, working at the hospitals, and practicing Spanish with your amigos. You deserve some time to experience the rich history in Peru, especially Machu Picchu! The famed citadel was intricately built by the Incas but abandoned in the 16th century when the Spaniards invaded Cusco and was left untouched until Brigham rediscovered it at the beginning of the 20th century.
The benefits of planning your own trip to Machu Picchu are that you save money and get to go at your own pace. This guide will walk you step by step to get to the legendary site. From July 2017 direct flight are available between Trujillo and Cusco
Going to Machu Picchu from Trujillo
- Buy a plane ticket/bus ticket from Trujillo to Cusco.
- Buy a plane ticket/bus ticket from Lima to Cusco
- From Cusco, there are different ways to reach Aguas Caliente, the city at the base of Machu Picchu-Take a taxi to Poroy station, 20 minutes away from Cusco, and take the train directly to Aguas Caliente (~ 3.5 hours). During the rainy seasons, trains do not operate from this station due to the risk of landslides.
-At the Cusco airport, take a taxi or collectivo down to Ollantaytambo ( ~ 1.5 hours). From Ollantaytambo, you can catch the Peru Rail or Inca Rail to Aguas Caliente (~1.75 hours), where you can stay overnight to go to Machu Picchu in the morning.
*Book your tickets to Machu Picchu and Inca/Peru Rail ahead of time. Travel agencies can book up many seats at once in a short amount of time.
- To reach the entrance of Machu Picchu, you can either walk up to the entrance from the base (2 hours) or take the bus (30 minutes). Tickets are around $14 one way.
Aguas Calientes Station/Ticket Sales
Av. Hermanos Ayar S/N
For accommodations, we used Hostel World and AirBnB and relied on previous reviews.
There are many guides at the entrance, and for us, having a guide helped enhanced the experience. In our group, it was 150 soles total for five people with a really great guide. It is incredible to see the beauty of the citadel in person, with its rich arrays of architecture, temples, and observatories.
There are other areas to visit around Machu Picchu! You can do a hike at Huayna Picchu, the nearby mountain which offers stunning views of the citadel below and houses the Temple of the Moon and caverns. The hike does tend to get steep at times with little support. Admission is limited to 400 people per day, between the hours of 7 to 11 am, and they do keep a close count on each person who enters. However, entrance to this mountain tends to sell out weeks before, and months in advance in popular months, so plan accordingly! Or you can hike La Montanya, boasting impressive views of the lands below, limited to 400 people per day as well. For both of the optional treks, you need to buy the admission to the mountains when purchasing your Machu Picchu ticket.
There is also an official Machu Picchu museum called Sitio Manuel Chávez Ballón that houses the Inca artifacts uncovered by Bingham. It is about a mile away from Aguas Caliente.
On your way out, get your passport stamped to signify that you’ve been at one of the seven wonders in the world! Enjoy!