How to Make the Most of a Machu Picchu visit
Machu Picchu is one of the "New 7 Wonders of the World," and getting to explore this ancient Inca city built over 500 years ago was definitely a highlight of my trip to Peru!
Taken by a random Spanish-speaking man. "Mira al cielo" (Look to the sky)
Here are a few tips and tricks to make the most of a visit to Machu Picchu:
1. Go during dry season (late April through October), more likely to get a pic with blue sky, but perhaps less greenery- I'd suggest aiming for May.
2. If you prefer to relax/have more energy to explore, take the train. (Otherwise you can hike the Inca Trail for 1-2 days if you must hike, or do the 4 day or longer if you want to ignore my last post)
3. GO TO THE BATHROOM BEFORE YOU GO INTO MACHU PICCHU. There are no bathrooms inside, and this is the only bathroom in the area. Also there are no re-entries, so once you exit you are DONE. The bathroom costs 2 Sols, or around .60 cents, but it is worth it!
4. Reserve your Machu Picchu tickets in advance if you know what day you're going. Also reserve Huayna/Wayna Picchu Mountain [the tall steep mountain behind Machu Picchu] tickets early (they limit the amount of tickets and all entrances must be before 11 AM.) It might be easier to get a tour company to reserve the tickets for you. A ticket to Machu Picchu is around $50 USD, and with the Huayna/Wayna Picchu hike it is around $65 USD but an agency might charge $65 alone for the Huayna/Wayna Picchu hike.
5. Putting your backpack in a locker is 5 sols (almost $2 USD) but it's worth it if you're hiking Huayna/Wayna Picchu. Otherwise, I'd recommend bringing a small pack to at least have sunscreen, water, and a snack if you want to maximize your time inside the city.
6. Also near the top, you are more likely to find llamas! Hiking from the Inca Trail, I saw the llamas on ledges closer to the top of Machu Picchu before the main entrance and the views.
7. If you are a history nerd and want to read about what it's like to be an explorer/how Machu Picchu was discovered, read the White Rock by Hugh Thomson. It's told from his perspective as he explores Ruins about the Andes, and also recounts how Hiram Bingham "found" Machu Picchu and made it public to the rest of the world. I finished it during my 9 day trip in Peru, and really enjoyed reading about Peru's crazy history with conquistadors and Thomson's own adventures. Alternatively, just watch a youtube video on Machu Picchu and that'll be much more time saving.
8. DO NOT JUMP/TAKE A JUMPING PICTURE. You could get kicked out. I convinced my friend Godwin and I to take a jump pic and a ranger told us if it happened again we would get kicked out. I would've been pissed if I got kicked out after hiking for 4 freaking days. Here's the forbidden pic:
9. If you can, get a tour guide. They can also act as a photographer! If I didn't have a guide, it'd all just look like a bunch of rocks.