I believe that Machu Picchu is quite possibly everyone’s bucket list. It is something that you will always see pictures of. Something everyone will tell you about. And I’m pretty sure that if you are going to Peru for the first time you wouldn’t want to miss something like a trip to Machu Picchu. Question is, what can you actually expect from such a well-known place.
General information to trip to Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu used to be a village from Inka time. You can find there a different kind of buildings, from regular houses to sun temples and so on. The mountain opposite from Machu Picchu is called Huayna Picchu and it is also possible to go there, but it is a lot more difficult to get the ticket for it.
Overall, Machu Picchu is really a big place and you can probably spend there the whole day just on the site. But that might be risky since eating and drinking is forbidden there. Even if you spend just a half day on the site, there are some restaurants in the village under the site, but they are quite pricey. Just to count with that.
Make sure you buy a ticket to Machu Picchu before you buy your flight. Because they are making a new restriction on how many people per day can visit the site and how many tourists can be there at once. Meaning that a lot of it is sold out pretty quickly, which is why it is recommended to first buy a ticket here and after that the flight.
Tickets are quite expensive, usually something around 100 dollars per half day. If you want to have whole day trip just on Machu Picchu, you have to buy two and the guide has to be with you most of the time.
How to get there
Big topic, I’m planning to write about it some more. But generally. From Cuzco, there are trains to Ollaytambo and from there is a direct train to Machu Picchu village. There are several train companies going that way. All of them are quite expensive, so add another 100 dollars to your budget.
From the village, you can either hike your way up or take a bus. Busses are going once they are filled and believe me, they are full all the time, so no problem there. Same goes for the return ticket. Just wait till the empty bus will show up.
However, if you want to choose some more adventurous way on how to hike to Machu Piccu, here is a great guide to Inca Jungle trek.
My experience from a trip to Machu Picchu
Overall I think I was disappointed. But that kinda fits the big expectations. I choose to do one day trip to Machu Picchu from Cuzco. Busses and trains were really well organized, and everything went just fine with it. I loved the view from the windows of the train, there were some beautiful landscapes there. The agency organized it pretty well, so every step of the way there was someone to pick us up and show us the next step, which might be valuable especially for first-timers.
First issues I reckon were mainly with our main guide. She didn’t speak English. By that I mean she told us about 5 sentences in English. And all of us were just English speakers so it didn’t make sense. When she understands that this is now how it is going to work, she just stopped talking to us at all and sometimes just showed us places, where we can take pictures.
And I think that was something that was kind of frustrating as well. We got to show where we can take pictures on Machu Picchu. So you would feel like you can do the big landscape picture like you have seen them in the books. But that is actually really difficult because there is actually a line on doing those pictures. So unless you want to get stuck somewhere, you actually wouldn’t do it.
If you like off the beaten path kind of vacation, don’t even go close to Cuzco. There are tourists everywhere. And even more on Machu Picchu. Of course it is something you can expect, but honestly waiting for a line for getting in and be constantly lost in a crowd is not what I would expect. Even with those restrictions, it still felt like awfully a lot of people. So I wouldn’t be surprised if they would close the site for good at some point.
Perhaps the worst thing about having tourists on such a precious place is that you just cannot watch them all the time. That might be frustrating mainly because even if we saw that you shouldn’t eat or dring on the site a lot of people were still doing it. Giving bread to local alpacas and leaving trash behind. My trust in humanity wasn’t too high on that day.
At the same time, there is that time pressure. You have to stay only 4 hours on Machu Picchu. So you have to run really fast through it, but with that many tourists, it is not really possible. At the same time, your guide has to walk you through only certain areas, so there is not too much time to actually go to places where you would be interested in.
Conclusion – what to expect from a trip to Machu Picchu
I was disappointed but that was mainly because of the guide. That is something you can actually just ask your agency, and make sure that your guide will be speaking English as well.
On the other hand, I don’t think that you can do anything about the tourists unless you come really early in the morning. You will possibly still get your picture and you might go even to most of the places in the site, but at least for me, I didn’t get that “wow” feeling like I got from other places.
So maybe just don’t have big expectations and Machu Picchu will be great.
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