These things will help your travel experience be a lot smoother and less headaches, so this is by far one of the best vacations you will take into one long time having to do with culture, architecture and historical concepts so by far make sure you do a little bit of homework about Machupicchu, the meaning of it, things that happen here and more.
Here you can get that knowledge beforehand if you don't do it, you will still have an amazing time but it's just nice to know the background before you get there.
Now Machu picchu compared to other places will take a little bit more thought and planning, because there are 4 or 5 ways to get there but you can't just land and then take a taxi there, there's actually a very protocol logistical way that you need to follow in order to get machu picchu and we'll get that when we discuss the specifics about getting to machu picchu.
If you go on the offseason as opposed to the on season you will have a much better experience, the offseason is during the winter in the Northern Hemisphere, you can plan traveling from September to November which is winter in the United States and offseason here. because a lot of people during the summer in the United states want to travel and have vacation. There are out of school and so that's when you have more people going to machu picchu.
Machu Picchu is not the highest elevation destination you're going to encounter when you travel to Peru, Cusco is actually higher in elevation than Machu Picchu, just to give you an idea Cusco is about 11154 feet in elevation that's about 3400 meters over the sea level.
Machu Picchu is at 7972 feet about 2,400 meters in elevation so they are very different
Try not to go directly to Cusco and Machu picchu you can take a couple days to get used to the altitude in another town that is in lower elevation for example, going to Arequipa which is at 7661 feet about 2,300 meters in elevation staying there a couple days and then make your way to Cusco then MachuPicchu will be a good idea.
It is really interesting going to a different town making sure that you don't just go to MachuPicchu make sure that this vacation is a little more than just that.
This strategy works out really well, people who take this recommendation do not get any altitude sickness, from staying in Arequipa and then going through Cusco to Machu Picchu and then coming back to Cusco for a couple more days.
Another thing about traveling to Peru is making sure if you are going to stay in Cusco and in small towns like Arequipa they're all organized the same way. There's a central plaza and then things disperse from there, try to decide to book hotels around the plaza and that will be really really convenient because the only taxi that you will take will be from the airport to the hotel and then because you are close to the plaza will be able to walk to all the things that are in the city that we need to see and hang out at the Plaza in the evenings and then just walk to your hotel so that is super super nice and convenient.
Now around the plaza there will be plenty of tour booking organizations pretty much everybody wants to sell you a tour, they have ways to sell you tours and these are legit organizations, everybody has a permit to sell tours to anything, if you want to do, don't feel obligated unless you find a super good deal online before going here. However, you need to book obligatorily a tour essentially on the peak season, in the offseason there are plenty of places around the plaza, actually one side of the plaza is fully dedicated to people selling tours.
Make sure if you are worried about tour planning don't do it, they have plenty of that.
Around these plazas in Peru there are many of this super cool double-decker bus that will give you a tour of the city and you can book it for two hours, four hours, etc.
In Arequipa it is better organized, the tour bus is actually booked ahead they gave you a seat number, departure time, etc. In Cusco the bus just circle the plaza and people get on, pay for it and then when it is full they will take off and do the tour, it is not a big deal but it is interesting because you will visit and know Cusco city culture, some archeological centers like Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Tambomachay and the most important places at this city.
There are many ways on how to get to machu picchu
On this trekkings you will be bring to one or another start point to begin with the tour.
You have to bought your tickets before getting there you don't want to wait especially if it's in the office and it's in the peak season, you want to make sure you already bought your train tickets before you get there because it is mandatory.
This big picture is that you will arrive in the airport
Take a taxi all the way to Ollantaytambo and then from there take a train to Machu Picchu or from Ollantaytambo you can do the Inca Trail.
So essentially the big picture once again is getting flying into Cusco from the airport is right by Cusco right south of Cusco and so you'll drive through Cusco to Ollantaytambo and from there hope on a train that will take you all the way to Machu Picchu or from there you have organized the Inca Trail, etc.
Book your plane ticket and let's say you land just in the airport, this place is a well-oiled machine, everybody that comes here pretty much is coming to see Machu Picchu and everybody knows that and everything is geared towards that.
Now, from the airport in Cusco to Ollantaytambo you will take a taxi, this taxi might take about two hours in order to get there so this website will help you plan your landing time and then how much time you will need to make sure you get to Ollantaytambo because planes usually get delayed on raining days.
If you purchase your train ticket ahead of time you will actually need to print your train ticket in Cusco it is not necessary go to a train station and print it, so that when you get to Ollantaytambo you can get on the train without headaches.
Yes! you can go to Ollantaytambo print you train ticket there but something very helpful is that a lot of these towns and a lot people experience that is, much of these towns will go, will lose electricity they will go out of power, when they go out of power there's no way to print tickets, so it makes a big mess as far as print your ticket, confirming your ticket, paying for your ticket with a credit card, etc.
The advice that you should definitely follow is land in the airport, take a taxi and make your taxi stop at Cusco because in Cusco you will print your train ticket and then once you have that in hand, have the taxi driving the rest of the way to Ollantaytambo, that will be the best way to do so you guaranteed no headaches, Cusco is a big city and it will not lose electricity (you can print your train ticket with your passport only on the train site, not necessary go to the train station).
This by far is a take home point for you:
The map here that I'm showing is actually the map that you will have to buy, if you can see here there's all these little pictures on the top and the bottom of all the local attraction sites so if you know in a short in a bind and you're landing there and then you have a train to catch make sure you tell your taxi driver, "Hey look just take a straight to Ollantaytambo" and then on the way back to Cuzco you might stop at some of the sites because inevitably they will want to sell you staying in these or going to these different places along the way to Ollantaytambo if you have, if you know that you have enough time definitely stop at different sides just to get some of those under your belt and see the different things but if you are cutting it short let's say you land in three hours later you have to be on the train, make sure you tell the taxi driver "Hey look I just want to straight ride all the way to Ollantaytambo".
You can always hit all these places once you're heading back to Cuzco from Machu Picchu
There are two trains, the Peru Rail and the Inca Rail train, the one you tend to see more on videos, images, etc. is Peru Rail that blue train, the Inca rail is a green train and the color doesn't matter, but just to give you an idea of the difference here. When you actually watch these videos and images.
The Inca Rail trains only travel from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu and the Peru Rail from Cusco all the way to Machu Picchu including Ollantaytambo, Piscacucho (the beginning of the Inca trail).
The difference here is that Peru rail and the Inca rail are the ones that are familiar the Peru rail is a little bit more thin icky about luggage, if you brought a piece of luggage it is going to be an extra fee and if you don't report that ahead of time there is more of a fee something along those lines so, they seem to be a little bit pickier about bringing luggage.
The Inca rail, you can just book your ticket and then bring your luggage on board, they are a little bit cheaper as well and the train is just fine is perfect just to travel there.
The train from ollantaytambo to machu picchu will take about an hour and a half depending on how many stops they do.
The last thing I already mentioned briefly was that to get from ollantaytambo to machu picchu the trains is the only way or the hiking the hike the Inca Trail so you have two trails that will take you there the longer one up north and the shorter one on south and they will all get you to Machu Picchu.
The one that you see a lot is this Sacsayhuaman, this location is pretty close to Cuzco that if you take a bus tour around Cusco actually take you there, that is one that's really close by to Cusco anyway.
Once you arrive at Machu Picchu, hopefully you have already also booked your hotel ahead of time so that you know that you have a place to stay otherwise these hotels there's not very many of them and they do sell out fast, if you're coming in the offseason still booked ahead of time now you will see that there is a super super fancy luxury sanctuary hotel that is meant they charge a lot of money because they are located right at the entrance of Machu Picchu, however a couple of pluses and minuses to that.
You actually want to plan to stay in Machu Picchu and in Aguas Calientes which is a town right next to machupicchu the only town for this place.
Two days is a good amount of time to be there because the first day you will kind of just walk around, actually purchase your ticket to go up to machu picchu and then purchase separately to a different location your bus ticket to go up to Machu Picchu and the bus ticket currently in the end of 2016 is about twenty dollars round trip per person and 60 dollars to get into Machu Picchu and then a little bit extra if you want to buy the ticket that takes you up to the other mountain called Wayna Picchu.
If you want to go all the way up to that second mountain waynapicchu that's a separate ticket and you'll have to purchase that (this new ticket include machu picchu and waynapicchu). There's a limited amount 200 of those per group and there are two groups per day so make sure that, when you buy your ticket you let him know and they will let you know if they sold out of the wayna picchu combination.
The hotel at the very very top is super expensive but if you know that you you're only going there to go to machu picchu not to experience Aguas Calientes then this might be an option for you financially speaking if you can afford that as well staying at sanctuary hotel right at the base so that you have first access to Machu Picchu and I think they let you in there after they closed at night so there's a couple of benefits in staying at this place if you know that your only goal is to go into machu picchu every day.
Aguas Calientes is at the bottom of the mountain and it takes about 20 minutes for the bus to climb the mountain and get to the very entrance of Machu Picchu and that is where sanctuary hotel is, all the other hotels that are in Aguas Calientes, the town which is where the bus with the train drops you off.
Once you arrive in the train you will have to get your luggage and there's people from the hotel waiting at the train drop off, keep this in mind if you bring five bags of luggage you will probably have to carry these bags all the way to your hotel, it's not super far far as far enough so that if you bring five bag that's five bags that you have to carry and so if you let your hotel know ahead of time "hey look I'm bringing five bags" they might have somebody there with a wheelie car or something to help you. I recommend you travel light when you go to machu picchu because you will have to walk there is no motorized vehicle there's no cars in Aguas Calientes.
It's a super small remote town in the mountains which makes it really beautiful but make sure you're thinking about these things because you might get there with five bags and then carry them all the way to your hotel and spraying your arm, legs, etc,etc so one more one less thing to worry about.
Let's see pick up your tickets in advance and remember these small towns will lose power I think half the time in Aguas Calientes there is no power in the town and so make sure that you bring a backup battery if you have your laptop, you have your iPad, your iPhone, your Go Pros, etc. make sure that you actually bring an extra fully charged external battery for these things because otherwise you might risk getting to Aguas Calientes at the base of machu picchu wanting to take all these pictures and video and then having no battery power, so think about that, that will make a big difference.
The picture up here I want to talk about guides, when you get up to machu picchu with the bus you're at the front of machu picchu there's a bunch of people that have official shirts and these are guides so you can read the guide in your language that will give you a tour of Machu Picchu, this is cool because they know and they will guide you around the walk around, however machu picchu at the entrance they don't give you a map of Machu Picchu.
If we don't have a map, we're forced to rent a guide, they don't give any map showing you where things are, etc. Get a guide so that the guy could take you around and show you where things were.
You don't need to have a guide, just walked around and took footage, the guide you can arrange a price with the guides and they will give you a two-hour tour, three-hour or four-hour tour and they can even tour you all the way to Waynapicchu if you want to.
Anyone will give you maps and that you will have to buy by your own, The map down here you see the Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes and then the bus trail, the road going all the way up there, the entrance to machu Picchu and this is a really good map to bring because you can actually walk around yourself is check things off and say oh that's what that is, it's the gate of the city it's the Temple of the Sun and make your just explore walk around discover them by mistake and just learn about machu picchu without a guide and this will actually be a good experience.
I don't know fun just to walk around with your own map and checking things Off, make sure you see everything and you know where it was.
If you're working out every day for running marathons make sure you come prepared what I mean is not to end up vomiting all over machu picchu because of a burger that end up having that not the day before
Make sure that you know because you never know what's going to sneak up on you, make sure you come prepared and bring maybe Obama bags a plastic bag any bag will do as long as there's no holes in it, that because inevitably things might happen no matter how fit you are, you might need a little bit of help, that is not the first time that somebody end up vomiting, luckily some guides have a little bonnet bag to use.
You know about mosquitoes and of course, you can read the experience below:
"the first day we went up there, we had long pants, long sleeves protecting against mosquitoes but we didn't see any mosquitoes you know normally you're shushing them with your hand and they're in your face or in your ear or your eyeball but there were no mosquitoes the first day so we thought all right.
The second day we went up there we took shorts and a short lead sled shirt and before you know it we were itching all over".
Apparently these mosquitoes are so small they're smaller than a fruit fly and they fly low to the ground and they'll get your legs, make sure that you bring anywhere mosquito repellent and long sleeve pants because these mosquitoes are like ninja mosquitoes they will bite you and then you won't know about it until later and they won't you won't see them and I guarantee you, if you at night after your first day at machu picchu walk around the town go to dinner and you'll see all the tourists with their legs with these huge maybe two centimeter one inch welts on their legs from the mosquitoes because they bite and they and you remember that and they actually state itchy for a week or more.
"I remember coming back home after the vacation and a week later I still had these well".
This is an interesting experience because of course you 've traveled to different places in the world and sure you've never had trouble exchanging money, essentially the take home message is that american dollar bills or any dollar bills, make sure that they don't have any tears along the edges because, here in the united states banks give us a lot of twenty dollar bills, they gave us money, we took it to machu picchu or to Cusco, and… they are very very meticulous about inspecting every dollar bill every edge and wherever there is even a small tear or small mark people and banks will not want to exchange that dollar bill and if they exchange a dollar then they will bargain with you and say well because it has a small tear I won't give you the 3.3 soles per dollar but I'll give you two soles per dollar and it is really really frustrating.
Currently the 1 dollar is 3.3 soles and that's the exchange rate that you'll see now the other thing is having crisp, one dollar bills they said well because it's just one dollar bill I can give you two soles, the higher the bill, the more worth even though there's a set exchange rate so that was really sneaky guys so make sure that whatever cash you bring that you want to exchange is super super Crisp almost right off the press no markings on it, no tears along the edges, you can make a lot a better experience.
That's it guys so make sure that you think ahead of time use all these resources
Plan your time to travel where you're going to stay, your luggage, the trains, it's all fun once you get there you're traveling so it's gonna take a little bit of forethought even the elevation comes into play for your vacation so make sure you think about this ahead of time.