Machu Picchu Adventure Log:
About a month before we arrived at Machu Picchu, we had arranged with the hotel for a tour guide to take us around the famous “Lost City of the Incas”. This turned out to be a smart move. We met with the guide, Juan, at the hotel the night before we went up to review the itinerary and logistics. The next morning, the guide arrived promptly, and we toured with him for the next three hours. Many times, we have read that freelance tour guides often wait outside the sites for tourists. However, in our experience, that proposition is a hit-or-miss. Of all the sites we toured in Peru, we found tour guides at only one of them. So follow that advice at your own risk!
We arrived at Machu Picchu around 6:30am. There were already a number of tourists around, but they weren’t overwhelming in number. We immediately headed up to the Watchman’s Hut which allowed us to take that must-have picture of the Machu Picchu site. It was cloudy that morning, so despite our best effort to get up early and trek to the top by 7am, watching sunrise atop this historic site eluded us. Over the next 3 hours, Juan took us to the Condor Temple, Temple of Three Windows, the Sun Temple, the Royal Tomb, the Sacred Rock, the Ceremonial Rock, the stone quarry, the storage huts and a number of other attractions within the complex. When the official tour with Juan was over, we toured the site once more on our town to take pictures at our leisure. We also picnicked outside. Around 3:30pm, we took the bus back down to Aguas Calientes for a relaxing night in town.
Machu Picchu Travel Tips:
1) Unlike in the past, the Peruvian government now regulates the number of visitors to Machu Picchu. You CANNOT obtain a an entrance ticket at the site. Make sure you purchase the tickets months in advance, before you arrive in Peru, at the following website: http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe. If you are having trouble with this site, try to access the site via the IP address directly: http://188.8.131.52
2) The climb to Huayna Picchu requires a separate ticket, and is restricted to 400 people per day (200 at 7am; 200 at 10am). You also have to purchase tickets in advance at the web sites above. Note that the climb is along steep stone staircases. We saw a few travelers climbing on all fours on the way up and down. It is definitely not for the faint of heart! However, the view from the top is amazing!
3) If you arrive early and don’t see llamas at the site, try waiting till the afternoon and go back up to the Watchman’s Hut. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to take pictures with the llamas!
4) Plan to take pictures early in the day or late in the evening. It’s not only because you get the best light at those times, it’s also because tourist buses usually arrive ~9am and stay until ~3pm.
To follow our journey to Machu Pacchu, check out these posts:
- Starting Our Machu Picchu Travel from Cusco
- Sacred Valley, Peru – Pisac, Moray, Salinas and Ollantaytambo
- Seeing the Milky Way in Aguas Calientes
- 10 Tips for Getting to Machu Picchu
- La Marinera, the National Dance of Peru (POPULAR POST)
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