Stone buildings of Machu Picchu
Stone buildings of Machu Picchu

Are you planning a vacation in South America? Have you included Peru in your travel plans? If you haven’t then trust me, your trip will never be complete if you miss out on one of the world’s most spectacular ancient ruins of Machu Picchu!

The Machu Picchu ruins stands at more than 7,000ft amidst the sprawling Andes mountains and were constructed by the Inca tribe back then in the 14th century. The ruins include the dwellings and temples dedicated to Inca sun gods and are surrounded by high-rise mountains that are heavily forested. They are very famous around the world and are designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Visiting Machu Picchu an intriguing process, right from the booking process for a ticket to getting there but at the end of it all, you’ll be very glad for the rest of your life that you were once there! Here is a summarized guide on how you can make it to the Machu Picchu…

Buying your tickets

You should purchase your entry tickets in advance as they tend to sell out during peak season when their demand is high, and remember that a limited number of tourists are allowed access per day. Tickets can to be bought from the official website and then make online payments or you can pay at Banco de la Nacion. You can also buy and pay your ticket at the ticket office located in Aguas Caliente.

How to get to the Machu Picchu ruins

The train ride to Aguas Calientes is one of the world's most scenic
The train ride to Aguas Calientes is one of the world’s most scenic

With the improved rail service, it’s easy to traverse the Andean steep mountains, the Urubamba river, the fields and the rugged valleys to get to the ruins. Just take a flight from Lima to Cusco and from there, there are many options to get to the ruins. It all depends on how much time you have and your physical strength.

You may decide to take a minibus from Cusco to Ollantaytambo for 3 hours and then from there you may decide either to hike the Inca trail to the ruins for 4 days and 3 nights, take a train ride to Aguas Calientes and then a bus to the ruins or you can trek the 8km route from Aguas Calientes to the ruins on foot. Either way, the journey to the ruins can be your most memorable ever!

Guided tour of the ruins

A guided tour through the ruins will let you have a glimpse of Incan era before the Spanish conquest
A guided tour through the ruins will let you have a glimpse of Incan era before the Spanish conquest

Individual tours of the ruins are strictly prohibited as you will be required to use the services of the numerous tour guides through your preferred tour operators. Your tour agent or hotel might include you in a group tour with a private guide. Alternatively, you can use any of the guides who wait at the ruins entrance. If you are traveling in a group, it will be easier for you to negotiate with them and they normally charge $50 for a two-hour tour.

Things to do at the ruins

In the company of a well-knowledgeable guide who’s also proficient in English, you’ll then definitely enjoy your tour! You’ll be taken on a detailed tour of the beautiful green terraces, the sacred temples like the Sacred plaza, the El Intihuatana, Temple of the Condor, the Sacred City with its astronomical alignments, Temple of the Sun, Temple of the Three Windows, Temple of the Condor, the Sun Gate and the Sacred Intihuatana rock.

From the ruins, you can have a beautiful backdrop scenery of the nearby forested mountains, the winding rivers, the Llamas. If possible, you can also plan to hike the Huayna Picchu, the peak overlooking the ruins. Plan to visit the quarry where stones used to construct the ruins were ferried from and the Sacred valley that surrounds the ruins and pass through several small towns and especially the Pisac traditional market.

Where to stay on your tour

If you have more time to explore the ruins for an extended time, then you’ll need to stay in Aguas Calientes, the nearby small town. There is a variety of accommodation from luxury hotels, to budget hotels, lodges, and campsites.

The best time to visit

The Peruvian Ilama in the Machu Picchu ruins
The Peruvian Ilama in the Machu Picchu ruins

Machu Picchu experiences a sub-tropical kind of weather and the rain season normally lasts from November to April and this is the lowest season for tourism in this region. When it rains, the ground can be damp and foggy. The recommended time to visit is from May until August. So the summer is here with us, need to wait? Not really!