There are many ways to experience Machu Picchu, one of the seven wonders of the modern world. However many people only get to experience it once in their lifetime, so we wanted to share some tips to make this important experience as amazing as possible! Check out our “Do’s” and “Don’ts” below which will help you plan and prepare to make your trip to the Incan Ruins unforgettable!
DO acclimatize in Cusco
Machu Picchu is right around the level where people start to feel the symptoms of altitude sickness (2,500m). Cusco is at 3,400m so spending some time here first and getting your body used to a higher altitude will make hiking around Machu Picchu a cake walk. If you’re doing the Salkantay or Lares treks, both of which go up to 4,600m or so, you’ll definitely want to acclimatize here to survive the hike! Keep in mind that many travel clinics recommend altitude sickness pills; this might want to be something you look into before travelling here!
DON’T tackle all three hikes
We hiked the Salkantay Trek, climbed up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes (instead of taking the bus) and then tried to climb up Machu Picchu Mountain. Based on the fact that this is a definite DON’T, you can probably figure out just how well that went! We only made it halfway up Machu Picchu Mountain, and although we had a great view from that point, we were dead tired. You want to enjoy what little time you have in the ruins, so we recommend to only tackle two out of the three possible hikes. If you didn’t do a trek beforehand (i.e. Inca, Salkantay or Lares), you’ll probably be fresh enough to hike both Machu Picchu then either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. If you do a 4-5 day trek, we’d recommend choosing between the actual hike up to Machu Picchu and one of the two additional hikes. The point is, you want to make sure you actually enjoy your time, not struggle through it!
DO trek to Machu Picchu
We recommend hiking along one of the treks to Machu Picchu if you’re able. Lots of people are turned off the idea due to the steep price and advanced planning involved in the famous Inca Trail, but it’s not the only option. We loved hiking the Salkantay Trek; the views were amazing, and the challenging hike made the reward of seeing Machu Picchu that much sweeter.
DON’T come unprepared
To optimize your time and enjoyment of the magic that is Machu Picchu, a little preparation goes a long way! Sunscreen is a must, as well as a full reusable water bottle. Food is technically not permitted, but bags aren’t checked and you should bring a small lunch and snacks to sustain you throughout the day. Bathrooms and food are available just outside the main entrance, and you are allowed one re-entry within your ticket time block (that means only ONE washroom break), so plan accordingly!
DO buy the morning pass!
This will allow you to see Machu Picchu at sunrise, and watch the mist lift off the ruins. It also allows you more time. Afternoon tickets won’t be allowed into Machu Picchu until 12:30pm and you’ll be shooed out at 5:30pm. If you buy a morning pass you can enter at 6am and stay until 5:30pm. Technically you’re supposed to leave at 12:30pm, but tickets aren’t checked while you’re in the ruins, so as long as you don’t leave and try to re-enter you can stay as long as you want. Arriving early is also the best way to see Machu Picchu in two lights; a misty and mysterious and sunny and clear!