Machu Picchu is an ancient Incan citadel in the clouds that is worth an article of its own. It is one of the new 7 wonders of the world, and is the main draw card to Cusco. It is a truly inspiring place to visit, with well preserved Incan ruins in a location that is out of this world.
How to get there?
- By train – catch a train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, then either walk up to Machu Picchu or get a 20 minute bus ride
- On foot – there are great hiking opportunities that finish at Machu Picchu, one of the most famed ones being the Inca Trail
- By tour – there are many tour options to Machu Picchu, shop around in Cusco to find the one right for you
Inca trail or a different trek?
Should you stick to the classical & popular Inca Trail or venture to try a trek less travelled?
- Inca Trail, 4 days – is full of history & the Incan pilgrimage to Machu Picchu during the 15th century
- Salcantay Trek, 5-8 days – is breath taking scenery
- Lares Trek, 3-5 days – is untouched Andean villages & alpine lakes
- Machu Picchu Jungle Trek, 4 days – mountain bike, river raft, jungle trek & zip-line your way to Machu Picchu
- + more
The Inca Trail
I have only done the Inca Trail, so can share my experience on this adventure to Machu Picchu. It is definitely an unforgettable & rewarding experience to reach Machu Picchu on foot. You also can see less crowded & well preserved Incan ruins nestled in the Andean mountain range on the way there.
- Walk the path the Incans walked in the 15th century, steeped in culture and history
- Rewarding & special
- Enjoy ancient ruins that are only accessible by the trail
- Travel with a great guide, who can tell you about Incan culture & architecture
- Your team of porters will truly spoil you with carrying most of your equipment + having 3 delicious hot meals a day prepared for you
- Unforgettable experience
- It is difficult, don’t expect this hike to be easy
- Altitude sickness is real
- Weather can be unpredictable, and very wet (we hiked with rubbish bags around our feet for 2 days)
- Don’t expect to see Machu Picchu straight away, it is often covered by clouds in the early morning and eventually reveals itself at midday
Top tips before tackling a trek to Machu Picchu
At over 3000m altitude, Cusco is a hard city to fly into. Most tour agencies advise a minimum of 2 days before starting a trek to acclimatise.
- Take your time – you need to acclimatise to the high altitude before attempting this hike
- Don’t drink alcohol beforehand
- Prepare mentally & physically
- Bring the right equipment – warm jacket, waterproof clothes, good hiking boots & a quality sleeping bag is key
- Know that it isn’t easy
- Bring cash to tip your team, they work so hard & these tips are how they survive
- Do Huayna Picchu! It is worth the extra time & money to get that amazing view of the valley and Machu Picchu below. But don’t attempt if you are scared of heights.
Who should you book with?
We went with Quechua Expeditions. They hire all local porters and always have great food. They also charge less than other tour operators. Keep in mind that most Inca Trail companies charge a minimum of $500 USD.