One of the things on my bucket list is to travel all of seven wonders! So far, I’ve seen the Colosseum of Rome and Machu Picchu, in Peru! I wrote about my trip to Peru and my recommendations in an article (read it here), but here are my tips on how to see Machu Picchu!
First thing I would recommend is to make sure you already have your Machu Pichu tickets before leaving Cusco! You can buy it online or at Cusco Plaza Regocijo Office. There are many options : Machu Picchu only or Maccu Picchu + Huayna Picchu (200 people/day only) or Machu Picchu + Mountains (200 people/day only) or Machu Picchu + Museum ! Book early to make sure you get the option of your choice! Huayna Picchu mountain is 2720m and gives you a plunging view of the ruins. It takes around 40 minutes to an hour to climb. The Machu Picchu mountain is 2400m and takes around 2h to hike. It allows a gorgeous view of the ruins, Huayna Picchu and the Inca trail ! I chose the Machu Picchu mountain one, it was a hard hike but was totally worth it !
How to get there
Now that your tickets are bought, the next step is to get there! To the surprise of many (mine included) they didn’t make quite easy for travelers to go see this wonderful place! You can’t just take a bus or a car to get there. Therefore, they are 3 main options. First, you can hike the Inca Trail. It takes around 4 days and I would totally recommend it if you have time (I soooo wish I did!) and if you are healthy enough (it is really physically demanding, I heard)! The most common option is to take the train. The cheapest way is to take a bus from Cusco to Ollaytantabo (a really cute small town, worth spending a couple hours in). Then, from Ollaytantabo you can take a train (book with Inca Rail) to Aguas Calientes, the town in which Machu Picchu is. It’s not a cheap option, but it’s the only one… unless you are willing to walk by the train rail for 15km… It’s long and hard, but some people do it!
Making it on time for the sunrise
I would recommend following this bus and train itinerary to arrive in the afternoon in Aguas Calientes. You can easily find a hostel on hostels.com or hostelworld.com! I would recommend buying a bus ticket to go up the mountain on the following day (or buy them in the morning if you rather wait in lines forever)! Tickets are only 5$! Go to bed early, as you want to wake up really early the next morning, buy something to eat (food is really expensive on the Machu Picchu site) then get to the bus stop and get in line. The bus will take you all the way to Machu Pichu entrance! If you want to see the sunrise (which I totally recommend), make sure you leave your hostel about 1h30 before sunrise time, to make sure you don’t miss out (you can’t always know how long you’ll have to wait for the bus to enter the site!). Even if you’re not a morning person. It is totally worth it!
What to do on Maccu Picchu site
Once you get on the site (finally!) take the time to admire the sunrise, then maybe take thousands of pictures (early mornings will make the best pictures) and selfies with llamas and Alpaca. Then, if you bought a ticket including one of the mountain, go hike it ! It’s gonna be hard work, but it is totally worth it for the gorgeous view!!! Make sure you go early so the heat won’t add to the difficulty. Also, you can’t start the hike after a specific time of the day (for security reasons) so make sure you get there early enough! Once you’re done with your hike, make sure you walk around the Machu Picchu ruins and go explore the little trails around the site!
Returning to Cusco
Depending on your plans, you can leave on the train on the same night and than take the bus from Ollaytantabo to Cusco. That’s what I did but it was a bit stressful as I only had 30 minutes between the train arrival and the bus departure! If your time allows you, spend one more night in Aguas Calientes and leave for Ollaytantabo on the next morning! If you have time, you can even take the time to see the Ollaytantabo ruins before taking the bus to Cusco!
It might look like an expensive journey but it is totally worth it to cross one of the seven wonders off your bucket list and just to spend an amazing day admiring an amazing view, chilling with llamas and exploring amazing ruins! Following this article are my own pictures from my time in Ollaytantabo and Maccu Picchu!