1. How to get to Machu Picchu?
The first step is to get to Lima, Peru. Then take a flight to Cusco, which takes a little over an hour. There are only three ways to get to Machu Picchu.
Train: You can buy a round trip train ticket on PeruRail or Inca Rail, this is the easiest way to go. both in Lima and Cusco to buy tickets and 3 stations where you can board: Poroy, Urubamba, or Ollantaytambo.
Trek: The famous Inca Trail is sold out months in advance and must be booked through a reputable trekking company. It is a 4-day trek that will take you to more than half a dozen Inca archaeological sites.
Car/ Trekking: This may be the cheapest option, but it is not as safe. You will need to arrange a car transfer from Cusco to Santa Teresa (approx. 6 hours drive), and this involves a long walk along the tracks from the Hydroelectric Plant to Aguas Calientes.
Aguas Calientes is the town at the base of the ruins. You can head straight up the mountain or to your hotel. This is a great place to spend a night.
The next day you can choose between a hike of about 2 hours to the entrance, or take a bus. A round-trip ticket to Machu Picchu costs about $25. The archaeological complex is open from 6:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
2. What is Machu Picchu?
It is a 15th century Inca site located on a ridge between the Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu mountains. No one really knows the original function of Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu is a Quechua word that comes from Machu meaning old or ancient, and Picchu meaning mountain, therefore, it translates as Old Mountain.
3. Huayna Picchu
The famous jagged mountain that looms behind the “Lost City” in the photos is Huayna Picchu. Each day, only 400 people are allowed to hike it, so it is important to get entrance well in advance. The only way to get there is on foot, the hike takes between an hour and a half and two hours.
Machu Picchu (7,972′ feet) is lower than Cusco (11,152 feet) and is located northwest of Cusco and the Sacred Valley, in the Amazon jungle. The elevation can cause some altitude sickness. To avoid this you can try “mate de coca”, a traditional Cusco herbal tea, or take a pill before arriving. Please consult your doctor.
5. The best time to visit
If you are looking for the perfect photo, you should go from May to October, during Peru’s dry season. June to July is the busiest time because Peruvians are on vacation and “Inti Raymi“, the festival of the sun, is celebrated every year on June 24.