Getting to Machu Picchu
History of the Lost City of the Incas
Machu Picchu is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the world, set deep in the Andes Mountains of Peru. Known as the ‘Lost City of the Incas’, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed citadel was originally designed to be completely self-contained, surrounded by agricultural terraces sufficient to feed the population and watered by natural springs. Located high above the Urubamba River, the cloud-shrouded ruins include palaces, baths, temples, storage rooms and some 150 houses, all in a remarkable state of preservation that will take your breath away.
Archaeological evidence shows construction began around 1462 at the height of the Inca Empire and ended with the arrival of Spanish conquest less than a hundred years later, when the unfinished site was abruptly abandoned. The Spanish never found the site as it was located some 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Cuzco and the polished dry-stone walls and buildings remained largely intact. Over time jungle gradually covered the site and few knew of its existence.
In 1911, American explorer Hiram Bingham was led up to the site by a local Quechua boy and the ‘Lost City’ was revealed to the Western world. There is still debate about whether Hiram Bingham was the first European to reach the site, however he is indisputably the most famous and July 2011 marks 100 years since his ‘rediscovery’ of this magnificent site.
Group tour, Independent Travel option or day excursion
There are several options you can choose from to visit Machu Picchu. You can either:
- Join a group tour and hike the Inca Trail or Lares Trek and visit Machu Picchu at the end, or
- Join a group tour, skip the hike and have free time in Cuzco then visit Machu Picchu on a day trip from Cuzco, or
- Take an Independent Travel package, with or without a trek
Please note: Due to Inca Trail permit restrictions, you must decide at the time of booking whether you want to trek the Inca Trail or not so that there is plenty of time to organise your permit in advance. To get further information about Lares trek, Inca Trail and Salkantay we suggest you to visit our web site.www.southadventureperutours.com
Day trips by train to Machu Picchu.- For a relaxing trip to Machu Picchu, we take a short transfer from Cuzco to Poroy, followed by a scenic rail journey to Aguas Calientes and then a short bus ride to the summit. Seated in comfort in economy class, you will enjoy impressive passing views of the Andes and have plenty of space to store your belongings above your head or in luggage compartments. The transfer from Cuzco to Poroy takes about twenty minutes. The train takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes to reach Aguas Calientes, followed by a bus ride of about 30 minutes to the entrance of Machu Picchu.
There are basically 3 options for buying your Machu Picchu Entrance Ticket
(1) Buy your tour to Machu Picchu with a travel agent. .- You can book a tour to Machu Picchu with a travel agent / tour operator in your own country or directly with a travel agent / tour operator in Peru. Tours may be part of a package including flights and accommodation or just a traditional day tour to Machu Picchu by train. Tour companies that sell entrance tickets to Machu Picchu must be authorized by the Peruvian Ministry of Culture. A list of authorized companies can be found on their website www.drc-cusco.gob.pe/callcenteresp1/dmdocuments/call/agenciasmapi.pdf try to find South Adventure Peru Tours.
(2) Independent visitors can buy their entrance tickets online.- Independent visitors are visitors who book all the parts of their tour themselves. I.e. they buy their own flights and book their accommodation on line. They may buy a day tour from a local travel agent (see above) or they may make all the arrangements themselves i.e. buy train tickets, bus tickets and the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu. This can often work out cheaper and allows for more flexibility in planning an itinerary. Machu Picchu entrance tickets are best bought as far in advance as possible but remember that the departure date cannot be changed once you have bought the tickets. Details how to buy the tickets online can be found below.
Another thing to consider is the availability of train tickets to Machu Picchu. Train tickets can be bought online at www.perurail.com there's no point buying your Machu Picchu entrance ticket only to find all of the train tickets have sold out!! It's probably best to check availability of both train tickets and Machu Picchu entrance tickets before buying either of them.
(3) Buy you entrance tickets at a ticket office in Cusco. (Not recommended).- The third option is not really an official option but if you are already in Cusco you could just go to the Ticket Office in Cusco and try to buy a ticket directly. Take your passport and be prepared to wait around for a while. Most visitors, even when already in Cusco, are encouraged to buy their tickets online and either pay by VISA card or take their booking number to an official agent in Cusco to pay.
There is also a ticket office in the town of Aguas Calientes near to Machu Picchu but, for obvious reasons, this seems like a rather stupid place to buy your ticket as it's a long journey back if they have sold out. Enjoy Machu Picchu !!