So you want to travel to Machu Picchu? Here are some handy tips and things you should know when booking your trip.
Machu Picchu: the famed Inca Citadel often photographed somehow mystically emerging from the clouds. Peru has a lot of offer travelers, but as one of the most popular destinations, Machu Picchu is likely on your list of must-see attractions when you come to Peru. If that is the case, we’d love to share with you some handy tips and things you should know before arriving at the gates.
1. The Rainy Season vs. The Dry Season
While December through April is technically considered Peruvian summer, it often surprises travelers that those months are actually the rainiest in the high Andes. In the summertime, the weather can change rapidly from sunny to cold with very heavy rain. The best season to visit Machu Picchu is during the Peruvian winter, from May through November when you’ll experience warm days, cold nights and little rain. However, it is worth noting that those months are the high season at Machu Picchu, so you’ll be sharing the site with a bit more people.
2. There are Many Ways to Get There
One of the most popular ways for travelers to reach Machu Picchu is via the Inca Trail. If you book with Enigma, we offer four different private options for hiking the Inca Trail, as well as group services. But besides the Inca Trail, there is another amazing trek for the intrepid traveler – the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. For that alternative trek, Enigma offers three different private options as well as group services.
But for travelers who aren’t up for the long hike, there is always the option of taking a train to Aguas Calientes and either hiking up to Machu Picchu from there or driving up in a bus. The train ride, whether you choose a budget-friendly train or a luxury option, is an incredible adventure and allows for spectacular views of the Andes Mountains and the Sacred Valley. Indeed, there is no wrong way to get to Machu Picchu.
3. Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain
There are two hiking trails within the Machu Picchu sanctuary that require special tickets to access and those tickets are limited. Besides exploring the ruins themselves, you can book to hike to the top of Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. Huayna Picchu is the mountain in front of the ruins that appears in the classic pictures and is one of the most popular routes. But we aware, it’s quite a steep hike!
Machu Picchu Mountain is the even taller mountain located on the opposite side of the ruins and is typically less crowded but takes longer to get to the top. Both hikes afford similarly
spectacular views of Machu Picchu and the surroundings and if you’re up for the challenge, they are worth the hike.
4. You Need to Acclimatize to the Altitude
Lying at an elevation of 1,430 meters (4,691.6 feet), Machu Picchu is considered high-altitude, so travelers who aren’t already accustomed to that environment may experience altitude sickness. Common symptoms of altitude sickness, or soroche, include headaches, nausea, dizziness, upset stomach, loss of appetite and shortness of breath. To combat the effects of altitude sickness so that you can have an enjoyable day at Machu Picchu, we recommend that you spend at least two days adjusting to the altitude in either Cusco or the Sacred Valley before you attempt any hiking around the ruins. It is also a good idea to eat light the day before and the day you arrive to a high-altitude region, such as Cusco. Chewing coca leaves or drinking coca tea will also help you to deal with the altitude.
5. Take Some Snacks
While exploring the ruins at Machu Picchu, you’re going to exert a lot of energy, which means that you need to stay energized throughout the day. Be sure to pack plenty of snacks and water for your adventure and enjoy every minute!
At Enigma, we love Machu Picchu and understand that it is one of the most incredible sights in Peru. It’s only reasonable that you’d want to visit the famed Inca citadel when you come to Peru, but we want to make sure you have all the information to ensure that your trip is a success. If you have any additional questions, we’re experts on traveling to Machu Picchu and we’d be happy to help plan your trip!