All about Machu Picchu
- Explore Machu Picchu
- The Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu
- Archaeological site of Machupicchu
- Huayna Picchu Mountain
- Machu Picchu Mountain
- How to go?
- How much?
- Entry hours
- Tour guide service
Explore Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu offers many adventurous alternatives such as the Inca Trail (4-day walking route), the Huayna Picchu mountain hike and much more.
The Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is not only the magnificent Inca citadel with temples and stone enclosures that surprise visitors. It is also made up of up to 35 thousand hectares protected by the Peruvian State in which there is a diversity of flora and fauna, as well as other Inca buildings and roads little known to the visitor.
Unfortunately, the tourist cannot completely visit the entire Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu. You can only visit the archaeological site and its dozens of buildings such as: the Sun Gate, the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Condor, the Solar Clock, the Main Square, the Temple of the Three Windows, the Temple of the Moon, the Sacred Rock and other structures numbering over a hundred and fifty in total.
The tourist can also visit the mountains surrounding the Inca city, which are: the Huayna Picchu mountain and the Machu Picchu mountain. On these peaks the Incas built stone roads up to their peaks. Walking these roads are popular adventures among tourists. In these mountains it is also possible to appreciate some of the species of birds, animals, insects and plants that are in the Historic Sanctuary, such as: the cock of the rocks, the vizcacha, the orchids and even the famous spectacled bear.
The Incas built a road network throughout their empire. In the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu they also built several kilometers of roads that connect the Inca city with the rest of the towns of Cusco and the Sacred Valley. There is a 4 day and 3 night trekking route that runs through these ancient routes called the ‘Inca Trail’. This route crosses a good part of the Historic Sanctuary. It can only be done with an all-inclusive tour, which must be booked online 5 or 6 months in advance (it is in high demand).
Archaeological site of Machupicchu
The archaeological site of Machupicchu is made up of dozens of temples, enclosures and terraces that was where the settlers who inhabited the Inca city settled. The most famous attractions of the Inca site are: the Sacred Square, the Main Temple, the Intihuatana (Solar Clock), the Royal Rumba, the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Three Windows, the Temple of the Condor, the Sacred Rock and the Intipunku (the Sun Gate).
Machu Picchu map
The Sun Gate (Intipunku) – The Intipunku (door of the sun in Quechua, the language of the Incas) was the entrance door that the Incas used many years ago. Its name is due to the fact that during the summer solstices, the sun’s rays illuminate this construction. It is made up of several walls, windows and doors from where you have a panoramic view of the entire Inca city. To get there you must do an uphill walk of approximately 1 hour. Due to the physical effort involved in completing this walk, not many tourists get to know this construction.
The House of the Guardian – The House of the Guardian is a rustic built enclosure, unlike the rest of the enclosures of the Inca city that are polished to a high quality. The most striking thing about this building is that from there you can have a view of the set of temples and enclosures of Machu Picchu. It is there where tourists get the classic photo of Machu Picchu with the Huayna Picchu mountain in the background.
The Main Temple – The Inca city of Machu Picchu was divided into two zones: urban and agricultural. Within the urban area, the religious sector was the most important. And of all the constructions, the Main Temple was the most important since the ceremonies in honor of the Inca gods were held there: the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth and more. It is made up of three ‘U’ shaped walls. It also consists of a platform where acts and sacrifices were performed. This stone would also represent the constellation called ‘Southern Cross’. The walls are finely carved. The passage of time severely damaged a part of this building.
The Intihuatana – The Intihuatana or sundial is one of the most popular constructions in Machu Picchu. It is located in the highest part of the religious sector. It is a rock carved in the shape of stairs and with a protrusion at the top where the sun’s rays reach. This type of construction not only exists in Machu Picchu but in other Inca citadels and temples in Cusco and Peru. It is presumed that its function was to detect the solstices and equinoxes in order to achieve better precision when working the land. Currently, it is believed that it radiates energy so tourists reach out to feel it. However, it is not allowed to touch the Intihuatana, only to bring your hand closer.
The Temple of the Sun – One of the most important temples in Machu Picchu is the one dedicated to the sun. It is located in the religious sector, above a stone cavern called the ‘Royal Tomb’. It is the only circular construction in the entire Inca city. Its walls are finely carved and also have windows. To get there, you must go up some carved stairs that lead to the Temple of the Sun. It is believed that in the time of the Incas it was adorned with pieces of gold and silver. However, it was looted at some point. There is evidence that there was a fire in this temple.
The Royal Tomb – One of the most mysterious places in Machu Picchu is the Royal Tomb. It is located in the religious sector, just below the Temple of the Sun. It is an immense rock with a cave-like opening where important religious ceremonies would have been held. It is believed that there would have been the mummy of an important character, for example the Inca governor himself. It is also believed to have been full of gold and silver treasures and ornaments but was looted at some point. Currently, for security reasons, entry into this structure is not allowed. It can only be seen from a safe distance.
The Temple of the Three Windows – The Temple of the 3 Windows is an immense trapezoidal wall (approximately 10 meters long and 4 meters wide), which stands out mainly for presenting three huge square windows. It is located right next to the Main Square, in the heart of the religious sector of Machu Picchu. According to research, it is not by chance that there are three windows in this building. According to the Inca worldview, there are three worlds that make up the universe: the Hanan Pacha (heavenly world of the gods), Kay Pacha (earthly world of men) and the Uku Pacha (underground world or of the dead). These worlds were represented by three animals: the condor, the puma, and the snake, respectively.
The Sacred Rock – The Sacred Rock, as its name suggests, is a huge rock 7 meters wide and 3 meters high; which was intentionally carved into the shape of a mountain. It is located near the current gateway to the Huayna Picchu mountain. It is believed that this rock was an important monolith to worship the mountains that can be seen in the distance. Currently, it has become popular that tourists who climb the Huayna Picchu mountain often ask this rock for strength. However, it is also forbidden to touch this Inca monument.
The Temple of the Condor – One of the constructions that gained the most popularity in Machu Picchu is the so-called ‘Temple of the Condor’, which is made up of three lithic structures that together and seen in a three-dimensional way imitate the shape of an Andean condor, considered a sacred bird for the Incas. This temple is in the religious sector, a few steps from the Temple of the Sun. According to the Inca worldview, the condor was a sacred bird that communicated the world of men (Uku pacha) with the heavenly world, of the gods (Hanan pacha).
The Secret Door – The Secret Door of Machu Picchu is one of the most recent discoveries. It is a hidden door in the sector of the three covers. It was found by the French researcher David Crespey who used infrared light to find this conduit. Although it is presumed that this gate would hide relics of gold and silver and even the tomb of the Inca Pachacutec himself, the Peruvian government has so far not given the necessary permission for the excavation works because they fear deterioration in the structures surrounding the Gate. Secret.
The Royal Residence – The Royal Residence is one of the largest and best-worked stone structures, which is presumed to have been the site of some of the most important personalities of Machu Picchu (a priest, the Inca or his family). It is located in the religious sector a short distance from the Temple of the Condor and the Temple of the Sun. Due to the fact that niches were found inside, this set of rooms was adorned with precious objects. Some hypotheses suggest that it was the home of the Inca Pachacutec, who ordered the construction of Machu Picchu in 1450.
The Temple of the Moon – The Temple of the Moon, also known as the Great Cavern, is the only building in Machu Picchu that is not located in the Inca city, but on one of the roads that lead to the Huayna Picchu mountain. It is a half-built building inside a cave that used the structure of the cavern to form ceremonial tables, niches and high-quality polished walls. According to the Inca worldview, the caves communicated them with the world of the dead (Uku pacha) so ceremonial rites must have been performed there. You can get to this building by taking one of the detours from the top of the Huayna Picchu mountain. Due to the remoteness of the place, not many tourists dare to go. That is why it is one of the least known sites for tourists who go to Machu Picchu.
Huayna Picchu Mountain
At the top of the Inca city there is a high mountain which is known as Huayna Picchu (young mountain). On the slopes of this summit, the Incas built hundreds of stairs, many of them close to precipices, which lead to the highest point, from where you have a spectacular view of the entire Inca city. At the back of this mountain, there is a detour to one of the most mysterious constructions that the Incas made. It is the Temple of the Moon, also known as the Great Cavern, a building made inside a cave. Because it takes 1 hour to walk there, few tourists dare to go.
Machu Picchu Mountain
This summit was the one that was authentically called Machu Picchu and that gave the name to the Inca city. Like Huayna Picchu, on this mountain the Incas built hundreds of stone stairs that lead to the highest point. This mountain offers a hiking route where you can appreciate the nature that surrounds the place. Although there are no buildings or temples of great importance; the views from the top are breathtaking.
How to go?
Train route from Cusco to Machu Picchu
The way in which most tourists travel to Machu Picchu is on the train route from any of the Cusco stations: San Pedro (in the same city of Cusco), Poroy (located 15 kilometers from the city), Urubamba (53 kilometers ) and Ollantaytambo (61 kilometers). Of all the latter, the Ollantaytambo station is the most used since it has more frequencies of daily train departures.
To go from Cusco to Machu Picchu using the Ollantaytambo station, you must first travel by car for almost 2 hours to the town of Ollantaytambo. There you must board one of the trains (the tourist must buy their ticket previously online). The train ride takes approximately 2 hours. The destination is the Aguas Calientes train station. There you must walk to the bus station that will finally take you to the entrance gate of Machu Picchu (the bus trip is 30 minutes). In total this route takes 4 hours on average.
- Price of the route: Transportation to Ollantaytambo ($ 5) / Roundtrip train ticket ($ 120) / Roundtrip bus ticket to Machu Picchu ($ 24).
- Advantages: It is the most comfortable and safe way to go to Machu Picchu. It is also the fastest as it only takes 4 hours.
- Disadvantages: The train trip is a tourist service whose price does not lower than 50 dollars per person.
Alternative route by Hydroelectric
The way less used by tourists to go to Machu Picchu is the so-called ‘route by Hydroelectric’, which does not use train travel; but a long bus trip and a walk through the jungle region of Cusco. This route takes 7 or 8 hours, so it is not very comfortable or safe. Of course, it is a route full of beautiful landscapes and adventures. The last section is a 10 kilometer walk. People who do not want to walk can take a short train ride, which is not widely used by tourists. This route is made for adventurous people who like hiking.
To go from Cusco to Machu Picchu with this alternative route by Hydroelectric, you must first take one of the buses that leave from ‘Almudena’ street. This bus trip crosses the high mountain landscapes as well as the jungle landscapes of Cusco. This first section to the town of Santa María takes approximately 5 hours. From there you must take a collective taxi to the town of Santa Teresa (a town famous for the thermal baths of Cocalmayo). Then again you must take another collective taxi to the hydroelectric power station. There are tourism agencies that offer a direct trip by minivan to Hidroeléctrica.
From Hidroeléctrica you should undertake the walk of approximately 2 hours to the town of Aguas Calientes. This walk stands out for being simple and full of beautiful landscapes. Finally, you will arrive at the town of Aguas Calientes, where the tourist must stay since it will already be sunset for their arrival. The next day, you can go up to Machu Picchu by bus (or if you want to go on foot at no cost). The alternative route through Hidroeléctrica is the favorite of ‘backpackers’ and tourists who like adventure.
- Price of the route: Tourist transport from Cusco to Hydroelectric round trip ($ 30). / Hike from Hydroelectric to Aguas Calientes (No cost). / Bus ticket to Machu Picchu round trip ($ 24).
- Advantages: It is definitely the cheapest route to go to Machu Picchu.
- Disadvantages: The route is long (takes 8 hours). It is not the most comfortable way to go. In the rainy months it is dangerous (January, February and March).
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
The Inca Trail is a 4-day and 3-night trekking route that crosses a part of the immense road network that the Incas built throughout their empire. This route connects the towns of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, crossing mountains and the jungle of Cusco, until arriving at Machu Picchu through the old entrance gate used by the Incas, the Intipunku (Gate of the sun). Each tourist will take a walk of approximately 39 kilometers. On the route you will also be able to appreciate other Inca citadels and temples such as the archaeological sites of Runkurakay and Wiñayhuayna. Because the Inca Trail route is protected by the Peruvian State, this trek can only be done through an authorized tourism agency, which includes everything you need: transportation, camping equipment, cooks equipment, porters equipment, guide tourist, entrance to Machu Picchu and more.
- Price of the route: Tours (4 days and 3 nights) are expensive. Prices are approximately $ 600.
- Advantages: The Inca Trail is one of the most incredible hiking trails on the entire planet.
- Disadvantages: It requires a physical effort, especially in the first days of walking. The tour is expensive. You must reserve yes or yes online 5 or 6 months in advance.
Travel with tour
Most people prefer to travel to Machu Picchu with an all-inclusive tour. That is to say: transportation (by train and bus), tour guide service, entrance to Machupicchu and, in some cases, lunch and lodging. Of the different tours on offer, the preferred ones are those that last 1 day (approximately 16 hours). These services can be hired in one of the many tourism agencies in the historic center of Cusco. They can also be contracted through the website of these agencies.
In addition to the Inca Trail, there are other hiking trails that lead to Machu Picchu after several days of hiking. For example, the famous Salkantay Trek of 5 days and 4 nights, the Lares Trek of 4 days, 3 nights and the Huchuy Qosqo Trek of only 3 days.
Travel on your own
Visiting Machu Picchu on your own is a great option for visitors who like a freer trip. To make this visit the tourist must buy their tickets on their own: entrance to Machu Picchu, train ticket, bus ticket, transportation to the train station as well as lunch and accommodation in Aguas Calientes (in case you want to spend a night in this town). Most of these tickets can be purchased online or in the city of Cusco itself. However, the best option to organize the trip well is to do it online.
Entrance tickets to Machu Picchu can be purchased through the official website of the Ministry of Culture of Peru (cost of the ticket ‘Machupicchu Only’ for adults is 152 Peruvian soles – 47 US dollars). They can also be purchased through the website of an authorized tourism agency. In the latter case, the price has an additional commission.
Train tickets can be purchased through the websites of the only two companies that operate the route ‘Cusco – Machu Picchu’: Peru Rail and Inca Rail. The price of your service depends on the type of service that the tourist chooses. For example, the ‘Expedition’ train ticket costs 140 dollars roundtrip. The Vistadome train ticket costs $ 190 roundtrip. The luxury train ticket ‘Hiram Bingham’ costs 900 dollars roundtrip.
The train trip ends in the town of Aguas Calientes (Machupicchu town) from where you must take the buses that in 30 minutes will take the tourist to the door of Machu Picchu. These tickets can be purchased online (through the Consettur website) or in the town of Aguas Calientes. The cost of the ticket (round trip) for foreign adults is 24 dollars.
The tour guide service is mandatory in Machu Picchu. This service is already included in any tour to the Inca city. However, if you come on your own, you must hire this service, either online through a tourism agency or at the entrance gate to Machu Picchu where the tourist guides meet. The price of the shared service (up to 15 people) is approximately 10 dollars. Private services cost approximately $ 70 but are organized for a family, a group of friends or couples.
Although visiting Machu Picchu with a tour guide is mandatory, this is not the case in fact and many tourists tour the archaeological site without a guide. However, because Inca constructions do not have a legend or explanatory panel, the best option is definitely to enter with a guide.
If you want to spend a night in the town of Aguas Calientes then you will have to choose one of the many hotel services in this town. There are simple lodgings from $ 15 per night. There are also 5-star hotels that can cost $ 400 per night. To hire a hotel it is recommended to enter a hotel reservation website.
In Aguas Calientes there are also many restaurants that offer all kinds of food, from Mediterranean to Peruvian. Prices can range from $ 3 (at the town market) to $ 50 at the most luxurious restaurants in town. Next to Machu Picchu there is only one restaurant that offers buffet food and belongs to the luxurious hotel ‘Sanctuary Lodge’, the only one that is located next to Machu Picchu.
To visit the archaeological site of Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains, you must buy (or choose on a tour) between the 5 different tickets:
- Entrance Machu Picchu Only – This ticket allows you to enter the archaeological site of Machu Picchu. Allow up to 4 hours of visit. It must be purchased online 1 or 3 weeks in advance.
- Entrance Machu Picchu with Huayna Picchu – This ticket allows you to visit both the archaeological site of Machu Picchu as well as the Huayna Picchu mountain. Allow up to 7 hours of visitation. It must be purchased online 3 or 4 months before as it is the ticket most requested by tourists.
- Entrance Machu Picchu with Mountain – This ticket allows you to visit both the archaeological site as well as the Machu Picchu mountain, another of the hiking routes similar to Huayna Picchu. It must be purchased online 3 or 4 weeks in advance.
- Entrance Machu Picchu with Huchuy Picchu – This ticket allows you to visit both the archaeological site as well as the Huchuy Picchu mountain, which is reached by a short hiking route. It must be purchased online 3 to 4 weeks in advance.
- Entrance Machu Picchu with Inca Bridge – This ticket allows you to visit both the archaeological site of Machu Picchu as well as the little known Inca Bridge, which is reached by a short trekking route. It must be purchased online 3 or 4 weeks in advance.
The purchase of entrance tickets to Machu Picchu in person are only in the city of Cusco. The addresses are: a) Calle Garcilaso s / n. b) Calle Maruri 324 and c) Main Square of Aguas Calientes s / n.
When buying any of the entrance tickets to Machu Picchu, the tourist must choose between some of the schedules that the tickets offer:
Ticket entry times Machu Picchu Only
- Group 1. The entrance is from 6 in the morning.
- Group 2. The entrance is from 7 in the morning.
- Group 3. The entrance is from 8 in the morning.
- Group 4. The entrance is from 9 in the morning.
- Group 5. The entrance is from 10 in the morning.
- Group 6. The entrance is from 11 in the morning.
- Group 7. The entrance is from noon.
- Group 8. The entrance is from 1 in the afternoon.
- Group 9. The entrance is from 2 in the afternoon.
Ticket entry times Machu Picchu with Huayna Picchu
- Group 1. The entrance to Machu Picchu is from 6 in the morning while the entrance to Huayna Picchu is between 7 and 8 in the morning.
- Group 2. The entrance to Machu Picchu is from 7 in the morning while the entrance to Huayna Picchu is between 7 and 8 in the morning.
- Group 3. The entrance to Machu Picchu is from 8 in the morning while the entrance to Huayna Picchu is between 10.30 and 11.30 in the morning.
Ticket entry times Machu Picchu with Mountain
- Group 1. The entrance to Machu Picchu is from 6 in the morning while the entrance to the mountain is between 7 and 8 in the morning.
- Group 2. The entrance to Machu Picchu is from 7 in the morning while the entrance to the mountain is between 7 and 8 in the morning.
- Group 3. The entrance to Machu Picchu is from 8 in the morning while the entrance to the mountain is between 9 and 10 in the morning.
Ticket entry times Machu Picchu with Huchuy Picchu
- Group 1. The entrance is from 6:00 a.m. / The entrance to Huchuy Picchu is between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m.
- Group 2. The entrance is from 7:00 a.m. / The entrance to Huchuy Picchu is between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.
- Group 3. The entrance is from 8:00 a.m. / The entrance to Huchuy Picchu is between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.
- Group 4. The entrance is from 9:00 a.m. / The entrance to Huchuy Picchu is between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
- Group 5. The entrance is from 10:00 a.m. / The entrance to Huchuy Picchu is between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 a.m.
- Group 6. The entrance is from 11:00 a.m. / The entrance to Huchuy Picchu is between 12:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
- Group 7. The entrance is from noon / The entrance to Huchuy Picchu is between 1 to 2 in the afternoon.
- Group 8. The entrance is from 1:00 p.m. / The entrance to Huchuy Picchu is between 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Ticket entry times Machu Picchu with Inca Bridge
- Group 1. The entrance is from 6:00 a.m. / The entrance to inca Bridge is between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m.
- Group 2. The entrance is from 7:00 a.m. / The entrance to inca Bridge is between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.
- Group 3. The entrance is from 8:00 a.m. / The entrance to inca Bridge is between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.
- Group 4. The entrance is from 9:00 a.m. / The entrance to inca Bridge is between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
- Group 5. The entrance is from 10:00 a.m. / The entrance to inca Bridge is between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 a.m.
- Group 6. The entrance is from 11:00 a.m. / The entrance to inca Bridge is between 12:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
- Group 7. The entrance is from noon / The entrance to inca Bridge is between 1 to 2 in the afternoon.
- Group 8. The entrance is from 1:00 p.m. / The entrance to inca Bridge is between 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Tour guide service
Since 2017, the tour guide service in Machu Picchu is mandatory for all tourists. The guided tour of the Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu mountains is optional. The guided tour of the archaeological site lasts about 2 hours. The groups will be made up of a maximum of 15 people, who are in charge of the guide. Visitors can choose between the shared service or the private service. The languages that most guides speak are: Spanish, English, Portuguese, French, German and Italian. The other languages can be obtained through a specialized tourism agency. You can get a guide at the entrance gate of Machupicchu or online through a tourism agency.
These are some of the rules in Machu Picchu that tourists must obey during their tour:
- The tourist must make his visit to Machu Picchu with his entrance ticket at the time he chose. The Inca city is open to the public every day from 6 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon.
- At the time of entry, the tourist must show the entry ticket in his name as well as the identity document with which he made his purchase: passport, university card, identity document or immigration card.
- The tourist must enter accompanied by a tour guide.
- The tourist must follow the route established by his tour guide. You will not be able to back up or stop for too long in high traffic places.
- The visitor must not damage any building in Machu Picchu or the natural environment that surrounds the place.
These are some of the prohibitions in Machu Picchu that tourists must obey during their tour:
- It is forbidden to enter Machu Picchu without the entrance or at the time that the ticket establishes.
- It is forbidden to damage the constructions of Machu Picchu.
- It is not allowed to enter with baby carriages. It can only be done with a backpack type baby carrier.
- It is not allowed to enter with shoes with heels that could damage the floor of the archaeological site.
- It is not allowed to enter with metal-tipped canes. It can only be done with rubber-tipped canes and in the case of an older adult.
- It is not allowed to enter with an umbrella. You can only enter with raincoat.
- It is not allowed to enter with suitcases or large backpacks. You can only enter with a backpack that does not take up much space.
- It is forbidden to carry out any type of advertising propaganda in Machu Picchu, whether it is showing panels, poles or making professional recordings without permission.
- It is forbidden to interrupt the sacred character of Machu Picchu, either by singing, jumping, undressing or jumping.
- Entering with firearms, alcoholic beverages, drugs, sharp objects, selfie sticks, drones or speakers is prohibited.
- If you are traveling on your own, buy your entrance tickets to Machu Picchu online and in advance. This, especially in the case of the entrance ticket to the Huayna Picchu mountain. Remember that you can buy your tickets through the official website of the Ministry of Culture of Peru or through an authorized tourism agency.
- If you buy a tour to Machu Picchu make sure it is from a serious tourism agency that includes: complete transportation (by minivan, train and bus), entrance to Machu Picchu and tour guide service.
- On your trip to Machu Picchu, do not forget to bring: comfortable clothing, hiking shoes, raincoat, cap or hat, sunscreen, repellent against mosquitoes, mineral or rehydrating water, passport or identity document as well as extra money in case you want to buy some sourvenir.