What’s the most important thing to know when planning our trek through the ancient Andes? We’ve compiled a list of our ten top tips for Machu Picchu so you can fully enjoy your experience. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people flock to Peru to visit the spectacular ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu. For Earth’s Edge trekkers, the visit to Machu Picchu consists of nine tough days of hiking. We visit the ancient city of Choquequirao and then on to Machu Picchu, which makes the first sighting of the ruins even more special.
Our tips for Machu Picchu visit
To help you get the most out of your visit, we have compiled a list of top tips to guide you on your visit to Machu Picchu seeing as you’ve worked so hard to get there.
Get a good night’s sleep
After long days on the trail, it’s very tempting to arrive into Aguas Calientes and want to relax with a few beers and enjoy this buzzing little town late into the evening. Do so at your peril! Wake up time to go to Machu Picchu will be about 4.30am for the day! The ruins themselves are quite extensive and you could easily spend the entire day walking around exploring.
The sun can get very hot and there is little opportunity to get shelter from it. The Machu Picchu day can be the most tiring day of the whole trip! Make the most of your visit by being fresh and well rested. After all, this is why you came to Peru in the first place, there will be plenty of time to unwind after your Machu Picchu visit.
Use the restroom before you go into Machu Picchu!
The only toilets are located outside the entrance and if you’ve already made your way well into the ruins, it’s a long way back! Also, there is a charge to use the toilets so make sure to have some 1 Sole coins on you to avoid wasting precious time queuing for change.
That said, we will just have finished a ten-day trek through the Andes, so don’t avoid water completely! You’re probably going to be pretty low on water anyway, and staying hydrated is crucial!
Walking poles are not allowed inside Machu Picchu
Although they have probably been your trusty friends up until now, be sure to leave them back at your hotel in Aguas Calientes for today.
They are allowed on the trail in the days leading up to this historic site, and we highly recommend you use them. They do take a little practice to get used to, but after a few trial runs you won’t even think about them!
Bring snacks and water
There is one café located at the entrance and as with all popular tourist attractions, the food can be expensive. There are lots of small shops in Aguas Calientes that offer boxed lunches at very reasonable prices so plan ahead and stock up the night before or you can even grab one before you catch the bus in the morning.
Bringing food with you is going to be key to your success while trekking to Machu Picchu, so just remember to keep some for the day of exploring Machu Picchu!
Bring your camera but put it away for a while as well!
Photos do not do Machu Picchu any justice at all, nothing can compare to seeing this beautiful place with your own eyes. Too many people walk around the ruins with their heads stuck behind their cameras and they forget to take some time to just enjoy the moment and soak up the surroundings.
However, you can use your camera to try and find some details that others might miss. Inscriptions, smaller buildings and even the flora and fauna can make for interesting subjects.
Bring your passport
Not only do you need this to gain entrance to the site, but you will also have the opportunity to get your passport stamped which is a really cool memento to take home with you.
Do your research
You may be happy to just wander around for the day and take it all in. However, if you have a keen interest in these Incan ruins and would like to fit in the most impressive sites, then do some reading before your visit. If you want to see as many of the key sites as possible then you will need to plan your day out carefully.
Just to give you a rough idea; The Sun Gate is a three hour round trip hike, The Inca Bridge is a one hour round trip hike and Montana Machu Picchu is a three hour round trip hike.
Know in advance what you want to do when you’re there and plan for the amount of time you’ll have. On our trips, we’ll have an international guide as well as a host of local guides so you can ask them too. We’re always happy to help you figure out what you want to do!
Wear your walking boots
Particularly if you want to hike the mountain. The steps are very steep and with some rain, they can become very slippy, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.
If you’re not sure what kind of boots you should get, we have a blog post about that too! Our MD and his trusty dog JohnJoe have all the tips about the best type of boots for hiking!
Bring your backpack with all the usual suspects
Just because you’ve technically finished your Machu Picchu trek it doesn’t mean you should leave all the essentials behind for this mammoth day! Bring your sun cream, insect repellent, sun hat and rain jacket!
Keep an eye on the time
In the morning before everyone disperses, your guide will give you a meeting point and time for the end of the day, this is when you will regroup and head back to your hotel to get ready for an evening of celebrations! Write it down or put a reminder in your phone. Trust me, it is easy to lose track of time when you are in a place like Machu Picchu!
That’s all folks! Let us know if you have any more tips for Machu Picchu! If you’d like to have your own Machu Picchu adventure you can go to the expedition page, or you can contact us if you have any questions.