Machu Picchu and the Inca trails

There is a tremendous feeling of awe on first witnessing this incredible sight. The ancient citadel of Machu Picchu, 42 km from Ollantaytambo by rail, straddles the saddle of a high mountain with steep terraced slopes falling away to the fast-flowing Río Urubamba snaking its hairpin course far below in the valley floor. Towering overhead is Huayna Picchu, and green jungle peaks provide the backdrop for the whole majestic scene.

If you take the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, following in the footsteps of its creators, you are making a true pilgrimage and the sweat and struggle is all worth it when you set your eyes on this mystical site at sunrise from the Inca sun gate above the ruins. That way you see Machu Picchu in its proper context. Afterwards you can recover in Aguas Calientes and soothe those aching limbs in the hot springs.

Getting there

There are two ways to get to Machu Picchu. The easy way is by train from Cuzco, Ollantaytambo or Urubamba, with a bus ride for the final climb from the rail terminus at Aguas Calientes to the ruins . The walk up from Aguas Calientes takes 1½ to two hours, following the Inca path. Walking down to Aguas Calientes, if staying the night there, takes between 30 minutes and one hour. The ruins are quieter after 1530, but don't forget that the last bus down from the ruins leaves at 1730. The strenuous, but most rewarding way to Machu Picchu is to hike one of the Inca trails.

Visitor information

Tickets for Machu Picchu must be purchased in advance from the
Instituto Nacional de Cultura
. The agency officially responsible for the site is
Unidad Gestión de Machu Picchu
. It is an excellent source of information on Machu Picchu and this is the place to which any complaints or observations should be directed.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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