This comes a little late, being as I visited Peru almost a year ago, but enough inquiries of my travel plans in Peru have come my way that I think this post is still appropriate. When I was researching how to get there myself I ran into a lot of dead ends on the internet. So here goes, this is how I got to Machu Picchu.
1. Fly into Lima – Hop on your favorite airline’s website and see what options they have for getting to Peru.
2. Fly to Cusco – If you can get a direct flight there great. I’m honestly not sure how many there are. The Cusco Airport doesn’t have runway lights and occasionally has strong winds, so flights only land during specific daytime hours. We took an early flight from Lima and arrived around 9 am. You can catch a bus from Lima to Cusco, but unless you have a few days and nerves of steel (Peruvian driving is nothing like it is in the States), I wouldn’t recommend it.
4. Take the Train or Take a Tour – When I visited Peru the trains weren’t running from Cusco (heavy rain had damaged some of the track, so repairs were being made). Because of that fact, we had to find another way to a town called Ollantaytambo (try pronouncing that one fast), the furthest the train was running at the time. At the airport we were able to find a tour company that offered a day trip sight seeing through the Sacred Valley of Peru stopping along the way to see various ruins and take in a traditional Peruvian lunch. The stops made along the way as well as the ruins in Ollantaytambo were spectacular. Something that we would have totally missed had the train been running the whole way. If you have the time, I would recommend a tour to take in as much as possible. If you don’t have the time you can book a direct ticket from Cusco to Aguas Calientes at www.perurail.com. Looking at their site, it has definitely been updated in the last year. We went their site wasn’t nearly as helpful.
5. Spend the Night in Aguas Calientes – The majority of places to stay in Aguas Calientes are hostels. We booked a decent place that was clean on hostels.com. Luckily we met some nice folks on the train that were familiar with the town and pointed us the right direction. If it wasn’t for them we might have spent all night searching for our hostel. Information about Aguas Calientes and a decent map of the place seemed hard to come by on the web. Its a small town, but there are so many hostels that it becomes tough to find the right place. There are a few nicer hotels in town but you’ll have to research those on your own.
7. Get Your Tickets – Get your bus and entrance tickets to Machu Picchu the day before you go. The ticket office doesn’t open very early and if you plan on being one of the first ones up to the ruins you won’t make it. Also they don’t sell entrance tickets at the gates. You have to do that back in town. We met many people that didn’t know that and had to ride the bus all the way up the mountain just to get back on the bus because they weren’t able to get in.
8. Enjoy Machu Picchu – Wake up early and catch the bus up the mountain to Machu Picchu. If you want to save on the bus fare, there is a hiking trail, but the mountain is steep and the trail looked treacherous. I say wake up early because the views of Machu Picchu are amazing in the morning light as the fog lifts off of the mountain. Also, if you arrive early there aren’t as many people around in your photos and along the paths. Arriving early is also the only way to get the chance to hike up Waina Picchu, they only grant a certain number that privilege so you have to be there early.
And that my friends is how I got to Machu Picchu. It is one of my all time favorite destinations. The mystery and beauty that surround the ancient ruins is more than I could ever explain on this blog. You’ll have to visit it for yourself…and now at least you know how to get there.
Make sure to check out the visiting Machu Picchu wiki for anything I may have missed.