Planning a South American adventure to Machu Picchu?! Follow our top tips and see the best of Machu Picchu. Our South American Specialist shares some tips. Find out how to get there, when to go, what to wear and some “Must Do’s” in Machu Picchu:
When should I go?
There are two seasons in Peru, the rainy season and the dry season. The rainy season is from November to March, the dry season the April to October See the Best of Machu Picchu between June and August. These are the driest months and although it’s “winter” the temperatures are pleasant and provide warm days and cool nights. Whilst summer begins around November, warmer weather in Peru corresponds to wet weather and potential flooding, because of this the best time to travel is However this period is also the busiest, so try to aim for April-May and late August-September when there are not as many crowds. You will see the best of Machu Picchu any day other than Sunday. Sunday is when people living in Cusco see Machu Picchu so it is always extremely crowded.
How do I get to Machu Picchu?
The most common way to get to Machu Picchu is by train. A 3.5-hour train ride on either Peru Rail or Inca Rail will take you from Cusco’s nearby station, Poroy direct to Machu Picchu’s closest town, Aguas Calientes. You can also catch the train from Ollantaytambo station, located in the Sacred Valley. (Make sure you have this booked well in advance). Alternatively you can hike to Aguas Calientes via the Inca Trail (or other routes depending on your tour operator). In most cases the tour begins near Ollantaytambo station and varies in duration. Once you’ve arrived in Aguas Calientes, you can choose to either take a bus, which takes approximately 25 minutes, or hike to Machu Picchu, which takes roughly 1.5 hours depending on the weather.
What should I wear to explore Machu Picchu?
While in Peru it is highly recommended that you wear layers. It will be very chilly in the morning, and as you’re walking around and exploring Machu Picchu you will definitely warm up. Its important to note that Machu Picchu does usually experience significant rainfall (depending on the time of year you’re travelling), so having a rain poncho or light waterproof jacket with you is a good idea.
Given there is a lot of walking and/or hiking, hiking boots are a must (if you’re doing the Inca Trail) or good quality walking shoes. Remember to break your shoes in well in advance to avoid discomfort during your Peruvian adventure.
You can minimise falling ill due to the high altitude by staying hydrated so ensure you have a water bottle close at hand throughout your journey. Additionally, bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and insect repellent to protect you from the sun and any nasty insects.
Cusco sits at an altitude of over 11,000 feet so if you decide to stay in Cusco you may experience altitude sickness. Given that Cusco is higher than Machu Picchu (which sits at an altitude of around 8,000 feet), we recommend travelling to Poroy for your train to Aguas Calientes where you can more comfortably acclimatise. Here are a few tips on avoiding altitude sickness:
“Must Do’s” in Machu Picchu
There is so much to see and do at the infamous Machu Picchu ruins. To see the best of Machu Picchu, ensure you’ve booked a guide to see and learn about some of the site’s highlights, including the Temple of the Sun, Temple of the Three Windows, Temple of the Condor, the Sun Gate and the Intihuatana rock. While exploring the ruins on your own can be exciting, the knowledge of the local guides is second to none. Many people also choose to hike up to Huayna (Wayna) Picchu, a mountain peak that provides panoramic views of Machu Picchu. You will need to buy an additional ticket to do this hike, usually you can buy a Machu Picchu + Huayna (Wayna) Picchu ticket which allows entrance into Machu Picchu and admission to hike to Huayna (Wayna) Picchu.
Marvel at one of the world’s most mysterious and spectacular man-made wonders. Follow these helpful tips and you will see the best of Machu Picchu. Take advantage of everything that this UNESCO World Heritage site has on offer.