In case you are a fan of mysterious places and ancient history, South America is probably the best place to go to. Machu Picchu – apart from a few exceptions such as for example the Moai statues of Easter Island – promises a whole-bag of “stranger (ancient) things” thrills and is worth the – rather – long and costly trip.
How to get there when not going the Inka Trail?
- Take a flight to Cusco
- Taking the train to Machu Picchu (city)From Cusco, you can either take the train (e.g. Peru Rail, leaving from Poroy Station), going directly to Machu Picchu (about 4 hours), OR take a cab from Cusco to Ollantaytambo (1,5 hours) and getting on the train from there. From Ollantaytambo station it only takes you about 2 hours to go to Machu Picchu.
In a nutshell: Choosing the version with the cab is usually quicker and less expensive, than directly leaving from Cusco (Poroy Station).
- Taking the bus to Machu Picchu (monument)When arriving in Machu Picchu (the city, also known as “Aguas Calientes”), take a bus that takes you up to Machu Picchu (the sight). The bus station and ticket shop is located next to the bridge one has to cross when leaving the train station (…and all the souvenir shops). Busses are coming and going every 10 – 15 minutes.
What to take into consideration before the trip starts?
- Buy your entrance to the National Park online upfront. If not, you may not be able to enter the monument on busy days.
- Book your train ride on time: For the same reason as mentioned in number 1, it is important to make your reservation before. There exist four different types of trains, that can be booked here online. After buying your train ticket, you will receive a voucher that allows you to pick up your real train ticket at several Points of Sale in Cusco (Airport, City Centre, Tourist Info etc.)
Where to eat in Cusco?
Other than Perù’s Capital Lima, Cusco is more of a touristic place, offering decent but little less “haute couture” restaurants.
Located in the patio area of the “Arte Precolombino” museum, the “MAP Cafè” is one of the nicest restaurants in Cusco, offering a nice menu with local dishes in a modern atmosphere.
Plazoleta Nazarenas 231 | Museo de Arte Precolombino, Cusco
What nobody told you before…
- There are a lots of aggressive Mosquitos around in Machu Picchu (the sight, not the “City”), leaving you with nothing but a lot of bites that are only healing slowly. Those have nothing to do with the Zika, nor the Malaria type and they aren’t dangerous at all – but of course the stitches turn red and are itching. Thus, the best thing to do is to simply wear long trousers and a long-sleeved shirt.
- Having a Visa credit card helps: For whatever reasons, they only accept Visa cards to pay for the train ticket…
- Although the train rides are very tourist-friendly, be aware that they may not be on time and – in the worst case – even have to stop for several hours due to technical reasons.
- The height is an issue of course (Cusco’s elevation is around 3.400 m) and can manifest itself in different symptoms (headaches, feeling sick, nose bleeding among others). However, feeling simply tired will be the most probable of all.
- Inka Cola tastes like Juicy Fruit Chewing Gum…