The high season for Peru’s top attraction – Machu Picchu – has begun. Yet, just because the destination is popular doesn’t mean the trip there is always a walk in the park. Use these insider Machu Picchu Travel Tips to plan the best trip possible.
Beautiful vistas are common at Machu Picchu. Often though, so are large crowds and fickle weather. That means now is a good time to brush up on the top tips for making the most out of one’s visit. There are plenty to consider.
When to go
Machu Picchu is open throughout the year, but July and August are Machu Picchu’s peak season for a reason. Those months are the driest in a climate that’s relatively temperate throughout the year. Travelers can still expect showers during these months, but fewer of them than other months. However, good weather also brings large crowds. The rainy season between October and April is also much quieter. As such, the best times to visit are likely the shoulder months on the edges of the crowds and the rains.
No matter what time you choose to visit, you’ll want to plan well in advance. Reservations are essential for various aspects of the trip, and Machu Picchu’s popularity means that these can be hard to get last minute. You’ll likely be traveling by plane, train and bus over the course of your visit. Those who choose to hike the Inca Trail will need to make the earliest reservations, as the Peruvian government only allows so many people on the trail per year. Start planning months, if not a year, in advance.
Choosing the path
The two most common ways to get to Machu Picchu are by train and by foot. The train is the more convenient option, though hiking is more memorable. Hikers of all ages have done the trail, but being in good physical condition is still important, as the trail is often strenuous.
If going by foot, plan for an extra few days and research packing essentials. Good boots, plenty of cash, warm clothes, water resistant gear and a porter are just some of the necessary items.
Those going by rail will have three trains to choose from. The Backpacker is the least expensive option and the slowest, but only by a half hour, according to USA Today. The Vistadome is mid-range, while the Hiram Bingham is the luxury option. Price and comfort are the main considerations.
Timing your visit
Machu Picchu from Cusco can be done in a day, starting with the four-hour train ride to nearby Aguas Calientes, seeing the ruins in the afternoon and heading back to Cusco at night, according to Travel + Leisure, but it’s not recommended. Crowds are at their worst mid-afternoon, and Machu Picchu is magnificent enough for a whole day’s visit. A better plan is to spend a night in Aguas Calientes and head to Machu Picchu first thing in the morning, just in time to catch the much-lauded sunrise.
Altitude sickness can be a major problem, but train travelers should not wait to acclimate at Cusco, as Aguas Calientes is actually at a lower altitude. However, hikers should give themselves several days in the city before hitting the trail.
Dress for the weather
Machu Picchu is generally temperate and often sunny, but it is prone to cold temperatures, especially at night. Rain is always a possibility, as well. A sweater, a rain jacket and sunscreen are all essential. A hat, sunglasses and insect repellent are worth bringing. Good hiking shoes and a walking stick are also helpful, given the thousands of steps around the grounds.
Hire a guide
Hikers will want a porter as well as a guide to navigate the trial. Once at Machu Picchu, it may be tempting to save some money by foregoing the guide in favor of a travel book. However, an expert can be convenient, informative and more time-efficient.
About The Author:
These travel tips were shared by Kensington Tours. Kensington Tours is an award-winning tour company that provides customers with highly personalized trips around the world. Its highly customizable tours and expeditions span more than 90 countries across all seven continents, boasting the support of experienced local guides and in-country offices around the globe. Kensington Tours has been recognized by Fodor’s Traveling Intelligence, Travel Leisure and National Geographic for its outstanding luxury tours. Mentions include National Geographic’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” and Travel Leisure’s “Best Luxury Adventure Companies.”
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