Take a Hike To Machu Picchu
Hidden away for centuries in the mountainous cloud forests of Peru, the well-preserved Incan ruins of Machu Picchu are on the bucket list of many travelers — and for good reason. Even though this UNESCO World Heritage site location atop a mountain isn’t exactly easily accessible, thousands of visitors still hike out to see it every single day.
But before you pack your bags and go, there are a some tips that you should take in.
The History of Machu Picchu
Located in the rocky countryside northwest of Cuzco, Peru, Machu Picchu is believed to have been built at the height of the Inca Empire, which dominated western South America in the 15th and 16th centuries.
It was thought to have been a royal estate or sacred religious site for Inca leaders, whose civilization was virtually wiped out by Spanish invaders in the 16th century. For hundreds of years the abandoned citadel’s existence was a secret known only to peasants living in the region. That is until the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham stumbled upon it in 1911.
The site itself stretches over an expansive 5-mile distance, featuring more than 3,000 stone steps that link its many different levels. Its central buildings were created through a masonry technique mastered by the Incas in which stones were cut to fit together without mortar.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983, designated one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, Peru’s most visited attraction, and South America’s most famous ruin, Machu Picchu welcomes thousands of people every year that marvel at one of the world’s most famous man-made wonders.
The Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu
The weather is typically dry and pleasant between July and October, which is why it’s the busiest time of year to visit Machu Picchu. If you’re dead-set on going during this time period, prepare for crowds and make sure to book tickets and tours well in advance.
The rainy season runs from November through March or early April, with downpours (and muddy trails) at their peak between January and March. It should also be noted that the Inca Trail is closed each February for maintenance.
To avoid the worst of the crowds and the rain, visit Machu Picchu during April, May, and June.
When to Buy Your Tickets
If you’re considering buying your tickets at the gate, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.
It’s recommended that you plan your trip at least six months in advance. In fact, in some cases, the Inca Trail hike that culminates at Machu Picchu fills up almost a year out, especially during high season.
If you’re lucky and it’s the slow season, it might be possible to get your ticket weeks or even days ahead of time. But in order to avoid disappointment and to make sure you have the trip of your dreams, it’s best to plan as far ahead as possible.
How to Plan a Hike In Machu Picchu
The most popular way for travelers with a sense of adventure to reach Machu Picchu is the famous Inca Trail.
This will take you on a four-day trek through the mountains and directly to the ruins. For those who aren’t into the physical exertion or simply don’t have the time, there’s a two-day version of the Inca Trail that’s shorter and easier.
However, access to the trail is restricted to just 500 people per day (including support staff – you can’t hike the Inca Trail without a guide), and permits sell out months in advance, so again, be sure to plan ahead.
The good news is that there are alternatives if you’re up for a challenge. The strenuous five-day Salkantay trek will delight hikers with incredible high-altitude scenery, and the four-day Lares trek makes stops in local Andean communities. There’s also the Choquequirao trek, which takes you to hidden Inca ruins that most visitors to Peru never get to see.
If you want to do a small trek that’s included in the price of your ticket, consider those to Sun Gate or the Inca Bridge, which are family friendly and at a much more leisurely pace.
What to Wear at Machu Picchu
The most important part of your trip is how you dress and prepare. First of all, comfortable, close-toed shoes are a must given that Machu Picchu is a large site with lots of hills and stairs.
In addition, the bugs can be merciless, which is why it’s recommended that you wear pants and long sleeves, despite the warmer temperatures. This means that you should pack some potent insect repellant and apply it liberally throughout your trip, preferably one with a high concentration of DEET.
Because the weather can quickly change, you’ll want to pack sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and rain gear so that you’re prepared no matter what you encounter.
Ready To Visit Machu Picchu?
A trip to Machu Picchu is an experience unlike anything else on the planet. Let Sunset Travel & Cruise help you plan the trip of your dreams. Contact us today!