Every year millions of tourists flock to “The Lost City of the Incas” which is perched atop the craggy 8,000 feet high hilltop in the middle of Andes.
A mystery to travelers and historian alike a trip to this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-do for travelers in Peru. If you are looking forward to visiting the historic ruins as an independent traveler then keep reading this article where we are going provide you with a few tips to make your trip worthwhile.
1. Getting there by bus and train
If you are not ready to hike up the Inca trail to Machu Picchu then your only other option is to reach the ruins by taking a bus from the little town of Aguas Calientes which is often referred to just as Machu Picchu. You can also catch a train from Cusco or Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes from where you can make a day trip to the ruins. However, we would always suggest that you make your base at Aguas Calientes for an overnight stay; in that way, you can take your time and explore the magic of the ruins rather than rushing back for catching the return train. You will find loads of accommodations of all ranges.
2. Visiting Machu Picchu by foot
There are multiple hiking trails to the ruins, the most popular being the Classic Inca Trail which would take about 4-5 days. If you want to avoid this touristy and expensive route you can choose from a number of cheaper alternatives such as the Cachicata Trek, Condensed Inca Trail, Huchuy Qosqo Trek, Lares Trek, Vilcabamba Trek and the Salkantay Trek all of which takes between 2-6 days. Since it is prohibited to hike on your own, you should make sure to contact fellow travelers to form a sanctioned group or talk to a tour agency.
The other option, again, is to take a bus from the little town of Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu which runs every 15-20 minutes.
More into taking the path less traveled? Check out Machu Picchu’s impressive neighbor Choquequirao– recently named a Best Destination of 2017 by Lonely Planet.
3. Exploring Machu Picchu
Although it is entirely possible to explore the ruins by yourself, yet we would always recommend you to take a guided tour of the site. Just a few weeks ago, a team member from LIP visited the ruins and encountered many aimless tourists who had wished they had paid the minimal fee for a guided tour.
You can either go for a group tour by contacting one of the numerous agencies in the nearby towns or you can ask your hotel to arrange a group tour with a private guide. Moreover, you will find lots of guides waiting outside the entrance most of whom are fairly proficient in English. Make sure to bargain with them to get a decent rate.
4. Highlights of the Ruins
Some of the more fascinating highlights of the ruins are the Temple of Condor, the Sun Gate, the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Three Windows and the Intihuatana rock.
5. Wrapping it up:
Keep in mind that the Incan ruins at Machu Picchu are one of the most spectacular ruins on the globe, so make sure to get your tickets well in advance since only a limited number of tourists are allowed each day. The weather here tends to be damp and misty so the ideal time to visit the ruins would be around late May-August which is also the peak season.