Everything You Need To Know Before Visiting Machu Picchu
You’ve got your ticket booked to Peru and Machu Picchu is on your to do list, but where to start? So much to research..so much to prepare for?! Ahhh! That’s exactly how we felt, lucky for you we’ve got you covered. Here are some important things to know before you get ready for a trip of a lifetime!
Read our post How To Get To Machu Picchu.
You will find everything you need to know regarding getting to Machu Picchu. It includes the best route from Lima to Cusco and Cusco to Machu Picchu.
Buy tickets in advance to Machu Picchu.
Don’t wait until the very last minute to purchase your tickets to Machu Picchu, specially if you are planning on hiking either Machu Picchu Mountain or Wayna Picchu Mountain. Tickets to enter these mountains are limited and can sell out fast. You can buy your tickets online by visiting Ministerio De Cultura. When visiting this website, you will be prompted to select your ticket option which are the following:
So let’s break this down:
Machu Picchu (1er Turno) - This ticket allows you to enter the Machu Picchu Grounds between 6am-12pm. If your ticket states 2do turno, they will not allow you to enter until 12pm. The cost for each ticket is S/152 ($45.62 USD)
Machu Picchu (2nd Turno) - This ticket allows you to enter Machu Picchu Grounds only between the hours of 12pm-5:30pm. They will not allow entrance any earlier than the time stated on your ticket. The cost for each ticket is S/152 ($45.62 USD)
Machu Picchu + Montana 7am-8am - This ticket gives you entrance to the Machu Picchu Grounds and the Machu Picchu Mountain. Please note, the entrance 7am-8am is the time they will allow you to access Machu Picchu Mountain. Once you get down from Machu Picchu Mountain, you will have access to Machu Picchu Grounds. You do have the option to visit the Machu Picchu Grounds first if you’d like, but will only have between 7am-8am to enter the Mountain. They might not let you in the mountain if you miss this time slot. Ticket cost is S/200 ($60.03USD)
Machu Picchu + Montana 9am-10am - Same as above, except your time slot to enter Machu Picchu Mountain is between 9am-10am. They will not give you entrance any sooner than 9am. Ticket cost is S/200 ($60.03USD)
Machu Picchu + Wayna Picchu 1G 7am-8am - This ticket gives you access to the Machu Picchu Grounds and Wayna Picchu. The hour slot dictates the time you are allowed into Wayna Picchu Mountain. The cost for this ticket option is S/200 ($60.03USD).
Machu Picchu + Wayna Picchu 2G 10am-11am - Same as above, except your time slot to enter Wayna Picchu Mountain is between 10am-11am. The cost for this ticket option is S/200 ($60.03USD).
Please note: If you select to climb a mountain, please keep in mind your ticket to the Machu Picchu Grounds will automatically default to the AM slot of 6am-12pm. Even though your ticket will state 6am-12pm for Machu Picchu grounds, if you climb any of the mountains you will have access and plenty of time to be in the Machu Picchu Grounds after 12pm. For example, we entered at 6am and were able to stick around until 3-4pm with no issues.
Ticket Tips & Reminders:
Print out your tickets and bring passport with you. Don’t forget to stamp your passport at the exit for FREE!
There is a passport check when you enter the mountains.
If you have the first time slot to enter the mountains, make sure to get there quickly. People start lining up at the Mountain entrances as soon as they enter Machu Picchu.
We highly recommend to purchase the first time slot if you plan on entering the mountains to avoid the heat and the crowds.
Pay extra to hike a mountain.
You are more than likely only going to visit Machu Picchu once in your life so what the heck, hike that damn mountain! Our hike to Machu Picchu Mountain was a highlight of our visit to Machu Picchu and totally worth the extra money. Do it!
Bus or walk to Machu Picchu?
If you’ve purchased tickets to hike any of the mountains, we recommend taking the bus on the way up. You will want to save all your energy for climbing the mountains. If you did not get the chance to purchase tickets to the mountains, be my guest and climb up to Machu Picchu. It takes a certain level of fitness, but it can be done. After an entire day of walking around Machu Picchu, you will find yourself having to wait over an hour to try and catch the bus back to Aguascalientes. We did not want to wait and decided to walk. This also helped us save $12 USD each. Regardless, we recommend walking at the end of the day vs the start of your day.
Plenty of guides are always available at the entrance.
If you wish to get a guide, you can easily find them at the entrance of Machu Picchu. Depending on the group, it can be anywhere from S/30-50 ($9-15USD) per person.
Stop at the bathroom before going into Machu Picchu.
There are no bathroom facilities inside Machu Picchu so before you decide to walk inside, go to the bathroom. You will thank us later! They charge S/2 ($0.60) and toilet paper is provided. But I ALWAYS carry toilet paper because you will find that toilet paper in bathrooms are very hard to find in Peru.
High altitude might get ya.
Drink lots of coca tea and bring coca leaves to chew just in case. The last thing you want is your time in Machu Picchu to be ruined by altitude sickness. Learn more about our Secret To Hiking The Andes!
Get ready for some crowds.
I have a good feeling that Machu Picchu beats any other wonder of the world when it comes to crowds. Although there is no way around this, the earlier you get to Machu Picchu the better.
Take your time taking pictures before going into the citadel (Machu Picchu ruins).
Once you go into Machu Picchu, there is only one way to go. Take your time taking pictures from above before entering the Citadel (where the actual ruins are located.) Once inside the Citadel, you can not go back.
Dress for the occasion.
You will be walking ALOT. Wear comfortable shoes and dress in comfortable layers. Even though the weather might state it will be warm, if you decide to hike a mountain it will be cold and windy up there. Bring sweaters and possibly a poncho if you visit during wet season.
To bring a backpack or not to bring a backpack?
If you decide on a backpack, make sure it is a daypack or at least under 20L. They don’t allow big backpacks inside.
Mosquitos in Machu Picchu?
Heck yes! I was also confused about the mosquito spray, but it is true. There are lots of mosquitoes in Machu Picchu so bring it!
Bring light snacks & water.
We’ve heard mixed things, but rules are they do not allow food inside Machu Picchu. You can however bring in small light snacks hidden at the bottom of your backpack. By light we mean a small pack of peanuts, crackers or energy bars. When it comes to water, only drinks in flasks or canteens are allowed.
Due to the altitude, the sun is very strong in Machu Picchu.
You are now all set to go! We hope that you find the information we provided useful for your Machu Picchu adventures! Did we miss any other Machu Picchu details? Please comment below. Enjoy!
In Peru you will find a very small amount of locals that speak English.
Download the XE Currency App to get live exchange rate info anytime, anywhere!
CREDIT CARDS AND BANKS
Cash is best for buying at local markets, street food or small stores as these do not accept credit cards.
ATMs are readily available.
We mostly used Banco De La Nacion while in Peru since this one allows us to take money out with out any fees.
VISA REQUIRED FOR US CITIZENS:
Visas will be given at time of entry into Peru. The length of approved stay will be determined by border officials when you enter the country and can range from 30-183 days. Be aware of the time they allow you to stay in the country. If you overstay, you will be fined and it will be a hassle when you try to cross your next border, specially if traveling by land. (This happened to us!)
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 month and have 2 free pages in the visa section when entering Peru.
(Make sure to check with your local embassy for visa updates.)
We decided to fly to Cusco from Lima since we had a predetermined date to visit Machu Picchu. You can also take a bus into Cusco. We would recommend using Cruz Del Sur for your travels. There are other buses less expensive, but we felt completely safe with them. They are the only ones we saw which go above and beyond to make you feel secure.
Breathalyzer tests are given to their drivers before starting their journey
Always have 2 drivers who must rotate every 4 hours
Video record all passengers traveling
A hostess is available for you 24/7 and attends to your needs on the bus
Meals are included like breakfast, lunch or dinner depending on your time of travel (the food is really good!)
You get a personalized screen to watch movies in Spanish with English subtitles
They can’t drive faster than 90kmph, there will be a screen showing how fast the bus is going (in some cases it even beeps when the driver goes over).
TIP: If you decide to buy your tickets with Cruz Del Sur, their website has the ability to change languages. For us, it defaulted to English, but if you can read Spanish or figure out the steps to book in Spanish, do it! Once their website is changed to Spanish, the cheap tickets will appear. You will have access to some seats being sold at a 50% discount! This obviously depends on demand and some planning on your end.
(In no way, did we get any commission or free rides with Cruz Del Sur to write this piece, we really loved them!)
We had heard mixed opinions about safety in Peru. Some cities seem to have more of a bad rep than others, but through out our stay we always felt safe. Even when riding on night buses. I was mostly concerned about all the road accidents you read about online, but if you book with a good bus company you should not worry. Just like in any other place in the world, use common sense like you would in any country. Make sure to steer clear of the roudy neighborhoods.
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