Ready for your Machu Picchu hike? Yes, you can do Machu Picchu tours without having to do the Inca Trail. The Lost City of the Incas is a dream destination for many, and a trip to Peru is not complete without a visit. Preparing Machu Picchu hiking tours entails a lot of things. Think of the height and altitude, weather, temperature, climate and the best time to go to Machu Picchu, climbing Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu. In this blog post, you will find everything about your Machu Picchu holiday a map and everything else that makes Machu Picchu Tours an unforgettable experience. Your Machu Picchu vacation and tours are not complete without a few highlights like the Sun Gate. And what about the rumors about Machu Picchu closing? We leave no stone unturned and prepare you for your Machu Picchu trip.
Last updated in Juli 2022
Machu Picchu reopened (Covid-19)
On the 1st of November 2020, Machu Picchu reopened to tourists after an 8-month closure. To celebrate this moment, Peruvian authorities organized an Incan ritual to thank the gods. Although Machu Picchu is reopened, this doesn't mean that everything is going back to normal. Only 675 tourists a day are allowed in the ancient city, this is about 30% of capacity.
The consequences for the local population and the companies that offer tours to Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail are big. Juca Coronel of Trexperience is also struggling: "We are 100% Peruvian. Originally, we never thought that the Coronavirus would have such an impact on the whole world. Everywhere it is difficult and in Peru millions of jobs have been lost, especially in Cusco. TreXperience has decided not to lay off any of our permanent employees, and we offer monthly bonuses to all our porters, chefs and guides".
Because the Inca Trail is extremely popular, there are still many open bookings for this year. Juca asks these customers to rebook and not to cancel: "We can easily rebook to next year. Every rebooking gives our staff a better perspective on the future. We can probably write off 2020, but Machu Picchu will not disappear."
Contact our trekking experts and stay up to date with the current state of affairs in Peru. See also the travel advice of your foreign affairs office, like for example this one by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office of the UK.
Machu Picchu Hike Tickets
Before we go a little deeper, we come to the tichets for your Machu Picchu hike. We can bombard you with facts about Machu Picchu, but if you came here with the intention of traveling to Machu Picchu yourself, you will want to know how to get tickets. If you are doing one of the treks in Peru, such as the Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trek or the Lares Trek, your tickets for Machu Picchu are included. Although basically you can buy Machu Picchu tickets in Aguas Calientes or Cusco, it is advisable to arrange this well in advance. Tickets for Machu Picchu are selling like hotcakes and you may be disappointed. The number of tickets for Machu Picchu is limited and there are also different time slots. You can easily order your own ticket to Machu Picchu through the Peruvian Ministry of Culture website. These can be tickets for Machu Picchu alone, with Machu Picchu Mountain or Huanya Picchu. We will come back to this later. Buying tickets online is highly recommended. It will also make your Machu Picchu trip cheaper. This does not necessarily have to be done by a third party, but it can of course be easier.
Entry Fees for Machu Picchu Hiking Tours
The entrance fees for the main grounds of Machu Picchu are as follows:
Adults (18+ years): $45 USD (152 Soles)
Undergraduate students (up to 25 years): 23 USD (77 Soles)
Child (<18 years): 21 USD (70 Soles) T
his allows access to Machu Picchu - i.e. to the most important ruins, terraces and temples, which can be seen in the typical photos. It does not provide access to the Machu Picchu peaks like Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu. Do you want to combine Machu Picchu with Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu?
Adult: $62 USD (200 Soles)
Student: 38 USD (125 Soles)
Child (8-17 years): $35 USD (118 Soles)
Please note that children must present a valid identity card or passport with proof of age. In addition, students must be able to present an international student card.
Machu Picchu Tours - Airport - Where is Machu Picchu?
Machu Picchu is located near Cusco, in the South American country of Peru. The best way to reach Machu Picchu is to fly to Lima (LIM). From here you can easily fly to Cusco (CUZ). You could say this is the Machu Picchu airport. From Cusco you can take the train to Aguas Calientes or you can decide to reach Machu Picchu by a path on the Inca network. The city of Cusco is completely dedicated to Inca tourism and is the gateway to Machu Picchu and all the other adventures in the area.
Machu Picchu History
Machu Picchu means "old mountain" in Quechua and was built as a fortress city for the aristocracy of Cusco, the capital of the Inca Empire. This city was not discovered until the XX century, 400 years after its demise. Since it is invisible to anyone who does not know its location, it remained intact even when the Spanish colonial masters conquered the country. How did the Incas build this magnificent citadel and how did they manage to carry thousands of tons of rocks up the mountain and fold them without leaving even the slightest space between them? This remains a great mystery. They did not have a wheel and did not get help from animals, so everything had to be done with human power. One of the most important features of Inca architecture was the way they worked the stone blocks.
They came with many sides that fit together perfectly without mortar and formed a kind of three-dimensional puzzle. This type of construction increased the stability of the wall, which was very necessary due to the frequent earthquakes. In Cusco a stone with 12 corners was found, which is very well suited to absorb the vibrations of earthquakes. Machu Picchu was abandoned shortly after the fall of the Inca Empire due to the Spanish invasion and was left intact until its discovery in 1911. Some consider Machu Picchu one of the most important religious sanctuaries of the Inca culture. This is because it is surrounded by temples, mountains, water canals and many sidewalks used for agriculture. In this way, the Inca priests were able to obtain the necessary food and concentrate on their religious duties. Some others believe that Machu Picchu was the palace of the Inca Pachacuteq, one of the most popular among the thirteen rulers.
Machu Picchu Wonder of the World
Now to the recent history of Machu Picchu. The complex was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983. It was also declared one of the seven Wonders of the World on July 7, 2007. The latter was decided by millions of people worldwide through an online vote. Machu Picchu is thus a wonder of the world, along with the Taj Mahal in India, the Colosseum in Rome, Chichen Itza in Mexico, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Petra in Jordan and the Great Wall of China. Also, the Pyramid of Giza in Egypt is a candidate.
As said, some people think that this place was either a religious center or the summer residence of Pachacutec. In any case, this huge and incredible place was designed with the utmost attention to detail. It was a special place during the Inca period. And it still is. On the other hand, this citadel was built, as we said, on the top of a mountain. This makes the construction even more impressive. They had to go to the very top with materials and massive stone blocks. They also had to provide enough food and water, because it is believed that the priest, the virgins and the Incas spent their time there.
Machu Picchu Height - How high is Machu Picchu?
Machu Picchu lies at an altitude of 2,430 meters. You may have found springs where Machu Picchu is higher, but this is not about Machu Picchu and its ruins, it is about the height of Machu Picchu Montaña, or Machu Picchu Mountain, from where you can see out of the ruins. It has a height of 3,082 meters. From the pictures, it may seem that Machu Picchu is at a lonely altitude, but the city is about 1000 meters lower than Cusco. Cusco is therefore also a great city to acclimatize to if you want to have adventures in the region or join Machu Picchu tours.
Machu Picchu Altitude Sickness
Altitude Sickness is a thing and it must be taken seriously when visiting the Andes. Yes, we know, while visiting Machu Picchu you won't be climbing a huge mountain like the stunning Huayna Potosíin Bolivia, which goes above 6000 meters. However, you will be hiking at 2450 meters above sea level, which is when altitude sickness begins to show. One of the great advantages of the fact that Cusco is 1,000 meters higher than Machu Picchu is that this beautiful city gives you the right time to acclimatize for your Machu Picchu hike and enjoy it. If you do not do one of the treks that lead to Machu Picchu, your chances of getting altitude sickness when visiting Machu Picchu are minimal. You will probably spend at least one day in Cusco before visiting Machu Picchu, and this will help you make the most of Machu Picchu tours.
Sun Gate and Sun Temple in Machu Picchu
The Sun Gate or Intipunku consists of steps that suggest that they were a kind of checkpoint for people entering and leaving the sanctuary. It is one of the most important archaeological constructions associated with Machu Picchu, is also dedicated to the cult of Inti, the sun god, and this is because at certain times of the years, the sun shines through the gate. On the Inca Trail, the road to Inti Punku means the end of the road, because from there it is only downhill, and from there you can see the whole sanctuary, the view is amazing, you can see Machu Picchu mountain, Vilcambamba or Urubamba river, Putukusi mountain and Huayna Picchu mountain. The Sun Temple was a sacred area built by the Incas to pay tribute to the sun inside Machupicchu and to make offerings. This star was one of the most important deities of Inca civilization. Therefore only the priests and the elite of the empire could enter this temple. Today this sacred building is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu Hike Highlights
Although we do not know everything about the history of Machu Picchu, the ruins are relatively intact and we can learn a lot from what can be seen during your Machu Picchu hike. The following highlights should not be missed during Machu Picchu tours:
The Intihuatana Stone
This carved column on a square stone base is a proof of the knowledge and skills of the Incas as astronomers. TThe corners point to the four pillars of the sun. The stone still shows the exact position of the sun. If you happen to observe one of the two equinoxes at noon, you will see the shadow of the stone disappear for a moment, just as its builders designed it.
The Royal Tomb
Sacrificial or burial rituals are said to have been performed in this cave-like building, and more than 100 skeletons have been excavated here. To the left of the tomb is a series of ceremonial baths fed by an advanced aqueduct system - another reminder of the impressive skills and masonry of the Incas.
Climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain
The ascent of one of the mountains around Machu Picchu completes the trip to Machu Picchu. You have the choice between Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu. Climbing one of the mountains in Machu Picchu offers a completely different experience than the other. Further down in this blog post we will explain this in more detail.
Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu - Weather and Temperature
Machu Picchu can be visited all year round, even in February when the Inca Trail is closed for maintenance. From May to October is the best time to visit, during this time there is the least rainfall and most hours of sunshine. The temperature is about the same all year round. In the most favourable months, the temperature at night is sometimes lower than zero degrees Celsius. The number of hours of sunshine is highest, averaging nine hours per day.
Machu Picchu Map
The following map of Machu Picchu will give you an idea of what to expect on your journey to Machu Picchu. There is so much to see and do in the complex that you can walk around for a few hours. And if that is not enough, you can always climb Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu.
Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu?
Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu mountain are two mountains on either side of the archaeological site of Machu Picchu, on which you can hike and from whose summit you can enjoy a panoramic view. Huayna Picchu is the high peak you see in most pictures of Machu Picchu, and Machu Picchu mountain is on the other side of the site. Huayna Picchu is the mountain of the famous pictures of Machu Picchu. This is why Huayna Picchu is much more popular than Machu Picchu Mountain. Fine, but which mountain in Machu Picchu should you climb?
Huayna Picchu belongs to a group of relatives of the Salkantay, a mountain range known as the Central Cordillera of the Andes. Huayna Picchu, "Young Mountain", is located opposite the "Old Mountain" Machu Picchu and has an altitude of 2,693 meters. It can be reached by a steep and narrow path with stairs carved into the rock; it extends over a height of about 360 meters. Everyone has heard about it, so it is easier to brag about it. There are some partly finished Inca buildings on it. It is a faster hike that gives more time to discover Machu Picchu. But if you are afraid of heights, maybe you better not climb this one. It can be very slippery in wet and rainy weather. You start the hike with 200 other people, so it is very busy.
Machu Picchu Mountain (Machu Picchu Montaña)
The Machu Picchu mountain lies at an altitude of 3,082 meters. It contains the Inca city of Machu Picchu, and every day more people decide to venture on to this mountain, possibly because of the energy emanating from the earth, which was considered sacred to the Inca civilization. The summit was used by Inca priests to perform rituals on special days, and it was the place of worship of Apu Salkantay. The Machu Picchu mountain is quieter and offers a more unique experience as fewer people make this trek. It also has a better view of the surrounding mountains because it is higher. If you are afraid of heights, you should not do this hike. There are some exposed places, but it is not as difficult as Huayna Picchu. The hike will take longer, so you will have less time to explore the ruins of Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu Closing?
Where the rumors come from, we don't know, but every now and then they flare up again and then people sincerely believe in a Machu Picchu closure. The Inca Trail closes every year in February for maintenance but this doesn't apply to Machu Picchu. Also, Machu Picchu will not be closing for one reason or the other. So should you all of a sudden hurry and confirm your Machu Picchu hike the soonest you can because of Machu Picchu closing? No. Machu Picchu is not closing. You can relax and book your Machu Picchu hike in the future as well.
Eating Before or After Machu Picchu
Aguas Calientes offers a wide range of restaurants to suit your taste and budget. One of our current favorites is the Treehouse Restaurant. This hidden restaurant offers an interesting mix of national and local Peruvian cuisine. In Aguas Calientes, you can also try street food without any problems. Due to the large number of visitors, the food is actually always fresh and chicharrones, a kind of wrap with slowly roasted pork, is highly recommended if you do your Machu Picchu hike. There are also opportunities to have a drink, but be careful, the prices in Aguas Calientes are higher than in Cusco. If you return to Cusco the same day, you should probably decide to go out in Cusco.
Machu Picchu Charity Trek
Did you know that a Machu Picchu Charity Trek is also possible? Ticking a Machu Picchu hike off the list is not for everyone and if you do it, it is likely to gain you some respect for your next birthday party. There is something special about it and that is why climbing Kilimanjaro for charity is a fantastic idea. You can do a fundraiser or you can simply gain awareness for a topic of your choice. Although we do not help with crowdfunding or fundraising, you can get in touch with our trekking experts for tips or find a matching trekking company.
Get more out of your Machu Picchu Holiday
It's time. You're going to Peru and you're going to visit Machu Picchu. Now the question arises whether you only want to visit Machu Picchu or if you want to combine this with one of the most beautiful hikes you can do in the region. Too often a trip to Machu Picchu is planned and you only find out later that you can spend a week in Cusco and also hike to Machu Picchu. If you want to spend some time acclimatizing in Cusco and discovering this beautiful and historic city before visiting Machu Picchu, here are our suggestions for accommodation in Cusco. Do the classic Inca Trail or one of the fantastic alternatives to the Inca Trail while visiting Peru. You will not regret it.
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