Almost every second person has Machu Picchu on their bucket list, and for good reason. Located in Peru, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is also one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Built in the fifteenth century, these incredible ruins weren’t discovered until 1911. Machu Picchu was lucky enough to escape plundering by the Spanish when they conquered the Incans, and it is now a sacred place to the Peruvians.
So how do you get there?
Fly from LA or New York with Lan Chile. You’ll stop in Lima before continuing to Cuzco which is 10,800 ft above the sea. Take a few days to relax here, and get used to the thinner air as you’ll find around 30% less oxygen at this high altitude which can make everyday activities more draining than usual.
Explore the city of Cuzco, which is also a World Heritage Site, and visited by more than two million tourists each year. Make sure you head out and enjoy the nightlife where you’ll find cocktails from $4 to $6. For a taste of the local food head to a restaurant and order a plate of cooked guinea pig. To see how the local Peruvians live, wander through the markets where you’ll find traditional goods as well as the typical tourist souvenirs.
Machu Picchu by Rail
Trains to Machu Picchu no longer depart from the historic main section in Cuzco. You’ll need to jump on a train from Poroy station instead, which is located 8 miles west of Cuzco. Grab a taxi for around $10 or check out the local buses if you’re strapped for cash.
From Poroy you have three different trains available, depending on your budget. All trains are operated by PeruRail, so check out the website at www.perurail.com.
The Hiram Bingham is by far the most luxurious train, with tickets from around $340 per person each way. This includes a delicious lunch and dinner, wine, entertainment and a guided tour around Machu Picchu.
The Vistadome costs around $75 each way per person and includes non-alcoholic drinks and snacks served at your seat.
The Expedition is the cheapest option at around $48 each way per person, and has panoramic windows as well as snacks and drinks available for purchase.
You can buy tickets to Machu Picchu at www.machupicchu.gob.pe, and it’s a good idea to book early as visitor numbers are limited to 2500 per day.
Hiking the Inca Trail
If you’re reasonably fit, the best way to see Machu Picchu is to hike the Inca Trail. At 26 miles long, you can expect the trail to take three to four days, depending on your physical fitness. There are limited numbers of permits available for the Inca Trail, and they are often sold out months in advance for peak season so book as far in advance as you can.
Your best bet it so book with a tour operator, as they will have porter to carry your bag, and you won’t need to worry about taking food etc.
If visiting Machu Picchu is on your bucket list, don’t put it off any longer. Book that once in a lifetime experience today.