How To Reach And Visit Machu Picchu (Without Inca Trail)

Reaching Machu Picchu and pay it a visit is MANDATORY in any trip to Perú and, even, to South America.

We are not going to get into historical disquisitions but it is worth knowing that Macchu Picchu was built around the 14th century and its original name was Llaqtapaca.

Macchu Picchu is impressive from any point of view: It is a masterpiece of architecture and engineering. Its origins, wrapped in a certain aura of mystery, have helped to this place to become one of the most crowded and demanded tourist destinations in the world.

Macchu Picchu was “discovered” by Hiram Bingham, as when the guy got into the complex, he found a surprise. Macchu Picchu had inhabitants! Two Peruvian families were living there: the Recarte and Alvarez families that were kicked out of their land soon by the Peruvian Government.

Today, Macchu Picchu, is listed as a World Heritage Site since 1983 and is one of the seven wonders of the world. In spite of the excesses that the president of Peru, Alberto Fujimori (who wanted to privatize it) was about to commit, Macchu Picchu is open to the public.

Yep, the site has very strict rules, so it is essential to plan the visit well in advance regardless if you are on a schedule strict honeymoon trip or you fall into the wandering backpacking type of guy(s)!

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Where is Machu Picchu?

For you, picky guys, the Historic Sanctuary of Macchu Picchu is located exactly at 13º 9 ’47 “south latitude and 72º 32′ 44” west longitude (or UTM WGS82 North 8’543,534, East 765,963). In straight words: it is about 130 kms. of Cuzco, province of Urubamba, in Peru.

The Sanctuary itself is located between two mountains: Macchu Picchu and Huayna Picchu (also accessible), at an altitude of approximately 2450 meters above sea level. The mountain Macchu Picchu has 3061 meters and its twin, Huayna Picchu about 2700 meters.

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How to Reach Machu Picchu?

The Sanctuary of Macchu Picchu is only accessible from Macchu Picchu Pueblo, also known as Aguascalientes. Even if you were Indiana Jones, you could not reach it from its back, and there’s an electified fence and the slopes are really hilly.

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There are several ways to get to Aguascalientes…

One of the most magical parts of the visit is how to arrive to the site, and the most special one is trekking to reach it. These are the 3 most renowned: Salkantay, Lares e Inca Trail (ó Camino del Inca).

If you don’t like to walk, no worries, there’s a fancy, old and luxurious train that will you drive there.

This is the plan: from Cuzco to Ollantaytambo you can take a train, bus (from the Cuzco bus station) or a taxi. The cheapest option is to take a bus for about 15 Soles (approximately $ 5 USD or 4.5 Euros).

From Ollantaytambo, you have to take a train from the company InkaRail or PeruRail. Both companies have several classes and trains available. I can tell you about the experience with the Vistadome. It is a type of panoramic car with a transparent roof. Trust me: it does not have much of special, except for the snack that the hostesses distribute and the train itself , that’s all. The price of about $ 90 USD one way. Yes, it’s a very pricey!

If you can afford it, the town of Aguascalientes has a heliport. From Cuzco, the helicopter trip is about 30 minutes and will cost you a mere $ 900 USD.

How to go from Aguascalientes to the Sanctuary? There are shuttle buses on a continuous service all the day through. They leave from the main street and the ticket office is next to the bus stop. The trip is about 15 minutes by a winding road (you can also walk up some stairs to the entrance).

 

When to visit Machu Picchu

The weather in Machu Picchu is relatively stable. The temperatures never exceed 25ºC but, depending on the season, you’ll find periods of heavy rain.

The best time of year to visit Machu Picchu is from May to October. During the rest of the year, the rains make the visit to the Sanctuary a real act of dangerous faith. Walking through the ruins is safe, but climb three steps to Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain not so much …. The steps are really steep and the rocks surface can be slippery…

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Do you want to have a comfy experience? Go with sneakers, warm clothes and grab a raincoat. You’re warned!

Buy your ticket in ADVANCE (VERY Important!)

The ticket to access the complex of Machu Picchu can be purchased at the ticket office the same day of your visit or well in advance. The best option is to get the tickets BEFORE going to Machu Picchu, purchasing them at the Official Web of the Ministerio de Cultura de Perú.

This is the (one & only) official website to buy the tickets. You’ll find another webpages. Beware! as they’re only resellers. It is important to make a reservation well in advance. Why? Machu Picchu is one of the most visited tourist spots on the planet and has an access quota per day and capped entry shifts. I am pretty sure that you won’t like to stud in front of the main gate without any chance to enter so, again: plan in advance!

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These are all the tickets available for you to purchase.

Tickets Type:

  • Boleto Machu Picchu Solo:
    Includes: Entrance to the enigmatic city of Machu Picchu, either in the morning or in the afternoon, according to the chosen shift. It is mandatory to observe the entry and exit hours of each shift.
    Entry hours: (Morning Shift: 06.00 h – 12:00 h) – (Afternoon Shift: 12.00 h – 17.30 h)
  • Boleto Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu:
    Includes: Entrance to Machu Picchu and Montaña Huayna Picchu.
    Entry hours: (07:00 h – 08:00 h. Group 01) – (10:00 h – 11:00 h. Group 02)
  • Boleto Machu Picchu + Montaña:
    Includes: Access to the Parque Arqueológico de Machu Picchu and Montaña Machu Picchu (which is located in front of) Montaña Huayna Picchu.
    Entry hours: (07:00 h – 08:00 h. Horario 01) – (09:00 h – 10:00 h. Horario 02)
  • Boleto Machu Picchu + Museum:
    Includes: Access to Ciudad Inca de Machu Picchu and Museo de Sitio Manuel Chávez Ballón.
    Entry Hours: 9:00 h – 16:00 h. Open all week days.

How many people is allowed per shift?

  • Availability for Morning Shift Machu Picchu – 3000 people per day.
  • Availability for Afternoon Shift Machu Picchu – 3000 people per day.
  • Availability Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu Grupo 1 – 200 people per day.
  • Availability Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu Grupo 2 – 200 people per day.
  • Availability Machu Picchu + Montaña (7.00 h – 8.00 h) – 400 people per day.
  • Availability Machu Picchu + Montaña (9.00 h – 10.00 h) – 400 people per day.

As you can see, the quotas are not high enough to allow all the people that would like to enter some days. Plan ahead.

Pricing

  • Machu Picchu (solo)  
    • Adult – 70.00 USD$ (37.00 USD$ for Andean Community nationals).
    • Student – 41.00 USD$ (27.00 USD$for Andean Community nationals).
    • Children (8 a 17 años) – 41.00 USD$ (27.00 USD$for Andean Community nationals).
  • Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu
    • Adult – 86.00 USD$ (54.00 USD$ for Andean Community nationals).
    • Student – 57.00 USD$ (40.00 USD$ for Andean Community nationals).
    • Children (8 a 17 años) – 57.00 USD$ (40.00 USD$ for Andean Community nationals).
  • Machu Picchu + Montaña
    • Adult – 86.00 USD$ (54.00 USD$ for Andean Community nationals).
    • Student – 57.00 USD$ (40.00 USD$ for Andean Community nationals).
    • Children (8 a 17 años) – 57.00 USD$ (40.00 USD$ for Andean Community nationals).
  • Machu Picchu + Museum.
    • Adult – 77.00 USD$ (47.00 USD$ for Andean Community nationals).
    • Student – 45.00 USD$ (30.00 USD$ for Andean Community nationals).
    • Children (8 a 17 años) – 45.00 USD$ (30.00 USD$ for Andean Community nationals).

Important: The countries of the Andean Community are, officially, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador. Children under 8 years old do not pay (must be accredited by a national identity document). The student rate is only granted with a valid university card or ISIC.

What to see Machu Picchu

Well, now that you know how deep your pockets have to be to visit this Wonder… which pack should you book?

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We did chose Machu Picchu + Montaña thanks to our legendary lack of planning (shame on us!).

  • Machu Picchu: You can see the whole complex with this ticket and all the buildings that stand still to this day.    
  • Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu: This pass lets you access to the whole complex plus Huayna Picchu, the most iconic mountain around (you can see it in the main picture of this post). To climb the Huayna Picchu is hard: is a 300m. vertical run through a stair which really high steps. There’s no more science on going up to the Huayna Picchu but you should watch your step on the rainy season, as the surface is really slippery. Do you know who Evo Morales is? he hold in the past the climb in the shortest time to this mountain!
  • Machu Picchu + Montaña: Esta entrada da derecho a ver todo el Santuario y a ascender a la montaña de Macchu Picchu, la más alta del Santuario. Está bastante menos congestionada y controlada que el Huayna Picchu. Los vigilantes no te echan (literalmente) a los pocos minutos de estar en la cima. Podéis comer tranquilamente, descansar, tomar fotos y bajar tranquilamente. La ascensión es más larga pero menos empinada que la anterior. Todo el recorrido es prácticamente una escalera contínua. Llevaros agua.
  • Machu Picchu + Museo: Sinceramente, el Museo Británico en Londres ofrece más información sobre la cultura inca que el Museo de Machu Picchu. Lo más relevante del museo es la colección de orquídeas que tiene. Poco más.

Consejos Prácticos

Es imposible viajar por Perú y no visitar Machu Picchu.

Es más, es imposible viajar por esta parte de Sudamérica y no visitar Machu Picchu.

Como todo en esta vida, la experiencia que tengamos, depende en gran medida, de como la planifiquemos. Y teniendo en cuenta que Machu Picchu está siempre hasta arriba de visitantes, hay que ser espabilado en la visita.

Ahí van nuestros consejos:

    • Intentad visitarlo fuera de la época de lluvias. La zona de Machu Picchu es muy húmeda y ascender con lluvia a una de las dos montañas es un suplicio.
    • Llevaros SIEMPRE un chubasquero y algo de abrigo.
    • Llevaros SIEMPRE una botella de agua. Dentro del Santuario no hay ninguna tienda, y las que hay en la entrada al complejo la venden a precio de oro.
    • Lo mismo aplica a la comida. Lleváosla en la mochila.
    • Ni se os ocurra emular a Pulgarcito y dejar un reguero de basura detrás vuestro. Primero porque está mal. Y segudo porque el parque está lleno de vigilantes y os echarán de el ipso facto.
    • Que tipo de entrada escoger? Nuestro consejo es que, por tranquilidad y vistas, subáis a Montaña Macchu Picchu.
    • La hora del día a la que ir es también importante. Ir muy temprano significa encontrar a poca gente (momento que dura poco). No obstante, durante las primeras horas del día, Macchu Picchu casi siempre está envuelto en niebla y no se ve prácticamente nada.
    • Para nosotros, las mejores horas para ir al complejo es cuanto más tarde mejor. Si subís a la montaña, no deberéis hacerlo más allá de las 10.00 AM. O sea, subid primero a la montaña y dejad las ruinas para la tarde.
    • La magia de Machu Picchu también está en cómo llegáis hasta él. El tren tiene su magia, sí, pero lo suyo es llegar por el Camino del Inca o por el de Salkantay. La mayoría de visitantes que llegan andando, lo hacen por el Inca Trail con algún grupo organizado. Después de haber hecho el de Salkantay con una de las mejores agencias, os puedo asegurar que hacerlo por libre es perfectamente posible.
    • Aguascalientes es uno de los pueblos más turísticos de todo Perú. Vive única y exclusivamente para el turismo y, obviamente, se aprovechan de ello. Aguascalientes es, en general, caro. No se os ocurra presentaros en el pueblo sin una reserva. Si lo hacéis, pagaréis un precio indigno por la habitación que conseguiréis con vuestro dinero. Reservad con antelación!



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  • Recordad: la vigencia del boleto es de solo un día. Aprovechad bien el tiempo.
  • La antelación con la que reservar los diferentes packs varía. El más buscado es el que incluye la ascensión a Huayna Picchu. Este debe reservarse al menos con unos 3 meses de antelación. Si queréis subir a la Montaña Macchu Picchu, con varias semanas de antelación, es suficiente. La entrada a Machu Picchu, pelada, puede reservarse solo con 2 días de antelación pero ojo, si el cupo se ha cubierto no podremos acceder.
  • El consejo más importante de todos: Planificad con tiempo para evitar quedaros a las puertas del Huayna Picchu o de la Montaña Macchu Picchu.

 

Contadnos vuestra experiencia en Machu Picchu. Feliz Viaje!

 

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