Machu Picchu: The City in the Sky
The BIG one! and the day had arrived! We were going to visit MACHU PICCHU and climb up to the the very top!
I’m thinking of “What can we possibly tell you about Machu Picchu that you haven’t see on a documentary or read in tour guides yet”? Well, well I’m skipping the historical part on this occasion as plenty of documentaries and tour guides can do an excellent job and focussed on the following:
You have a few options. A popular one is to take a late train and sleep in Aguas Calientes to board with the first group passengers if you want to see the “City in the sky” during sunrise.
You can also sleep in Cusco (also happened to be our base) and get the first train which is what we did. Here is what you can do to visit Machu Picchu on your own step by step, taking your time on your preferred spots and enjoy without the rush of a group. We had done our home work including watching lots of documentaries in advance, so we felt confident enough to go through the city without a tour guide.
First of all and most importantly: BUY THE TICKET TO MACHU PICCHU MONTHS IN ADVANCE. I would go as far as check the availability to Machu Picchu before you book your flights. The reason is that they get sold out weeks, even months in advance. We chose to book the tickets through the official government website see bonus section below for link.
Choose the ticket that is suitable for your needs and expectations. You can opt for the general entrance or you can add up hiking to either Machu Picchu or HuaynaPicchu (also referred as Wayna Picchu) mountains. Both have a maximum capacity of 400 people a day on two turns. We chose the entry to the city (cidadela) plus HuaynaPicchu Mountain on the 10.00 am group. If you like a challenge and love hiking, definitely go for this one, but I won’t lie, it is really TOUGH. If you are unfit, have a heart condition or knee problems, you may want to choose the entry to the cidadela only. However, if you hike up the mountain, WOW, the views are absolutely breath-taking. That together with that feeling of accomplishment you have when you finally come down the mountain, it makes for that unique experience.
TIP: Ana believes that some music would make the hiking slightly easier, bring your headphones with you if you like that sort of thing, it is worth trying. Personally, I’m not too sure. I like to have hyper access to all my faculties while climbing up this huge mountain with all it challenges. Last thing I need is to be lost in some latest top ten hit.
Once you have chosen and paid for your tickets, also buy the train ticket in advance. The train is not huge and the places sell out quickly. We chose the INCA RAIL , getting the 05.55 train from Poroy that arrives around 8.50 at Machu Picchu Village (Machu Picchu Pueblo).
Now, you have all your tickets, and the day has arrived! You can take a taxi from Cusco to Poroy to get on your 05.55 train. It takes about 30 minutes and 40 soles ($15 approx). A snack and refreshment is served on the train and the views are quite impressive too.
We got to Machu Picchu Pueblo about 08.50 am. You have to take a bus that takes you to the actual site. You can buy the tickets in Machu Picchu Pueblo (just in front of the bus line) or buy them in advance. We bought them in Cusco. You can ask at your hotel what is the closest selling point. I read that the bus queues were endless and we were a bit worried we might not be able to make it on time for 10.00 am but surprisingly, we didn’t find queues and could get on the bus immediately.
DO NOT FORGET to bring your ticket (and payment confirmation to get into Machu Picchu) and passport! They will ask you to show this before you enter the bus too.
We made to the bus and were at Machu Picchu entrance by 09.20 approx! Finally there! Check out how incredible this place is and the journey to HuaynaPicchu summit!
TIP: I cannot emphasise this enough – BUY WATER BEFORE YOU ENTER THE INCA SITE!! Wished we listened to our own advise, don’t know how we overlooked this obvious little task, but thankfully we survived to tell the tale.