Visiting Machu Picchu For the First Time
When is the Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu
When planning a visit to Machu Picchu you need to be aware of the seasonal variations that affect the weather in this part of Peru. I visited Machu Picchu in February and I was very lucky with the weather. I had clear blue skies and warm/hot sunshine. However, it is not generally recommended to visit Machu Picchu in February as this is traditionally when the area is hot by heavy rains and storms.
The best time to visit Machu Picchu is between April and October when the the weather is warm and dry.
Machu Picchu in February
Seeing Machu Picchu for the First Time
We arrived at the entrance to Machu Picchu at around 6:15am after hiking up as opposed to taking the bus. Already the sun was making its presence felt and we were already soaked through with sweat from the hike up. We met up with our guide and then headed along the path to gain our first glimpse of this historic city. Ahead of us was a wall of bodies all crammed in between a wall on one side and the side of a building on the other.
We couldn’t see over them but guessed that this was the first vantage point of the city and they were all grabbing a quick photo before shuffling on. We joined the melee with our cameras at the ready and then…just as we got to the front and got what should have been a clear view a huge cloud swept up from the valley below and covered everything in its mist! We literally couldn’t see a thing. Not letting this stop us, we waited until the cloud, and lots and lots of people passed by.
After only a couple of minutes, the cloud lifted and we got our first view of Machu Picchu. I was blown away by it. It was simply incredible! We stood and stared at it for a few minutes but then were forced to move on as the next cloud blew up from the valley and again hid the city from view.
Where is Machu Picchu?
Llama at Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu Tour
We had a fascinating tour around the Machu Picchu city but as our group had now joined up with several other groups to share this one guide it was sometimes difficult to hear, or understand, what he was saying about the Machu Picchu facts. Nevertheless we walked around behind him in amazement and wonderment at all the many houses, temples, shrines, observatories and much more. There were also several llamas and Alpacas wondering around the city which I hadn’t expected. One of these was an infant llama of only 3 weeks old.
Machu Picchu Passport Stamp
Michu Picchu Passport Stamp
When our time with the guide was up it was our free time to do whatever we wanted. First thing we wanted to do was to head back towards the entrance area and get the official Machu Picchu stamp in our passports. It doesn’t cost anything and it doesn’t officially mean anything but it’s still a pretty cool stamp to have in your passport.
Machu Picchu in February
After a brief rest we headed towards the entrance point to Huayna Picchu mountain for which we had tickets for the 10am hike. Huayna Picchu is the conical shaped peak that you see in most image of Machu Picchu city. It was really quite hot by 10am and we hadn’t fully recovered from our earlier hike but we were being driven by adrenaline and excitement at this point so we started our hike up Huayna Picchu in high spirits. It takes about as long as it takes to hike up Machu Picchu but the climb up Huayna Picchu is possibly a bit steeper and a bit harder if I’m honest.
The Sacred Valley
Hiking Huayna Picchu
Once you get to the top though, you forget about all the hard work it took in hiking up – the views over the city and over the surrounding landscapes are unbelievably spectacular. I sat there on the ledge at the top of Huayna Picchu over-looking Machu Picchu thinking about how fortunate it was that the Spanish never found the site. And it’s easy to see why when you look around. The jungle covering all sides of all the surrounding mountains is so dense that within a few years of the city being vacated it would surely have been buried within a thick layer of green.
Hiking Huayna Picchu (Continued)
After descending Huayna Picchu and stopping to eat the sandwiches we’d made earlier that morning we debated about whether or not we wanted to put our bodies through some more pain and trek up to the Gate of the Sun. Unfortunately two members of our group had to leave at this point in order to make their train back to Cusco. After dispensing with the goodbyes the remaining members of our group set off along the ‘Classic ‘ Inca Trail towards the Gate of the Sun. It only takes just under an hour to walk to but after the recent treks we’d just completed this one felt especially tortuous. Again though, we were rewarded by the awesome views from the top and we could now also claim to have walked along (if only a small part of it) the classic Inca Trail.
Machu Picchu Quizview quiz statistics
As if we hadn’t walked enough we all simply started to walk back down towards the town of Aguas Calientes without even considering taking the bus. We got back to the town at around 3.30pm after a long day spent up in the clouds, and went off to the train station to wait for our train to our next destination of Ollantaytambo and to say goodbye to our companions who were heading back to Cusco.
You can read all about my experience of getting to Machu Picchu via the 4 day / 3 night Inca Jungle Trek in part 1 of this hub. Thanks for reading!