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Quick Guide to Machu Picchu

Updated on March 7, 2013

The Lost Inca City of Manchu Picchu or Machu Picchu has been on the well trodden backpacker trail for the past 20 years and appeared on most ‘must see’ lists the world over, but in January 2010 a huge mudslide closed the site, putting this iconic destination on hold to visitors. After months of hard reconstruction and repair the area has reopened, so pack your hiking boots, camera and travel insurance – here’s our guide to one of the great wonders of the world.

Getting to Machu Picchu

Most routes to Machu Picchu take an international flight to the capital of Peru, Lima, and then hop on an internal flight to Cuzco. If you’re on an all-out Peruvian experience and Machu Picchu is just one of a number of places on your list, taking your time and travelling by public transport is the way to experience a real taste of local life - whilst buses are unpredictable and unreliable they certainly proffer a sense of adventure.

Where to stay near Machu Picchu

Trekkers will no doubt spend a few nights under canvas; otherwise Cuzco or Cusco is a great overnight spot for an early morning departure and the obligatory stop for the day tourist. The Sanctuary Lodge is the only place to stay at Machu Picchu itself, and whilst it’s in an amazing location it’s hardly at the heart of tradition.

Getting about in Machu Picchu

The Machu Picchu trek is a good four day climb and whilst the gradient will test most peoples fitness levels to the maximum, because it’s become such a popular trail there are amenities on the route to cater for the weary walker. Plus, if you don’t have the mobility or energy to actually climb, the Cuzco Train is the perfect solution – it might be bursting at the seams with camera toting tourists, but if you’re squeezed for time it’s the only way to ‘do’ Machu Picchu in a day.

What to do in Machu Picchu

What to do Hike and llama spot of course. Machu Picchu is surrounded by rich rainforest and the longest mountain range in the world, the Andes. Cuzco, the Inca Capital, is also renowned as one of the most beautiful cities in South America and is a great place to recoup after or before the trek, pick up the train, or simply soak up a bit of culture via it’s small but perfectly formed selection of museums and sites.

Dead Womans Pass
Dead Womans Pass

What to see at Machu Picchu

If you’re taking in the full climb, the vistas that are afforded on the average altitude of 3050m are pretty amazing – key attractions along the route include the tricky first pass, also known as ‘Dead Woman’s Pass’, the Inca ruins of Llactapata, the ruins of Runquracay, and the Inca site of Phuyupatamarca. If you’re taking the train the views are still pretty spectacular, keep an eye out for the rapids of the Urubamba River and the Sacred Valley. Once you’re on site the options are endless, from the Royal Tomb and Intipunku, through to the Temple of the Sun and Sacristy.

Machu Picchu Photos

Machu Picchu Video

More Machu Picchu Photos

Machu Picchu Face

Lots of people say if you turn the main view of Machu Picchu on it's side you can see a face. Well yes you can as seen below but we think this picture has been photoshopped in a way that makes the face more prominent...but pretty cool all the same!

Machu Picchu Face

Turning the picture on it's side you get this face
Turning the picture on it's side you get this face


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    • born4thesurf profile image

      born4thesurf 8 years ago from Truro

      Stay in Cusco for a few nights (it's beautiful) and book your trip to Machu Picchu from there. I would suggest you do a 3 or 4 day hike (on short notice - 1 or 2 days after booking) that includes entrance, the return bus leg, meals and so on, for $180

      I suggest you do the hike because doing a one day trip to Machu Picchu costs somewhere in the realm of $120US - adding $60 for a 4 day hike isn't bad value.

      The one I did was called Salkantay and was spectacular. There's also a jungle mountain biking thing you can do which includes the entrance fee for Machu Picchu, but everyone seemed to be pushing that so I don't think it's as popular.

      Keep an eye out for cheap flights to Lima with Continental or Spirit. Oh, and the bus from Lima to Cusco is about 22 hours. If you're short on time (or long on cash) you can fly from Lima to Cusco fairly cheaply.

      Have fun!