Views 09 Ene Frequently Asked Questions about Machu Picchu
 |  Category: Tips & Testimonials

Nowadays, there is so much information available on the web about a tour to Machu Picchu that is it very easy to confuse yourself. Hopefully this article of definitive answers to some commonly asked questions will clear a few things up for those planning to visit the “Lost City of the Incas” in Peru.

  1. Is it necessary to use a travel agency to go to Machu Picchu?
  2. No, this is not a requirement. Technically you could travel to Machu Picchu organising everything yourself. However, the huge advantage of reserving with an agency is that they organise absolutely everything for you, at the same or even cheaper price for the complete excursion.

    Machu Picchu

    It so happens to be that in Cusco you have to buy every single bit of your tour to Machu Picchu from many different websites and offices, that are scattered all over town. Trains, buses, entrance tickets, guides and possibly hotels all require advanced booking one way or another, implying a very time consuming process. To make matters worse, the maddening red tape and communication in Spanish generally turns out to be a nightmare to the foreign visitor. To avoid any inconveniences and bad holiday experiences, it is highly recommendable to leave all the organizing up to an established travel agency in Cusco. You will be able to communicate with the same contact person about your entire travel itinerary, ask any question you like while counting on years of experience backed up with a travel service guarantee.

    In addition agencies may also get discounts for certain items of the trip, such as trains and hotels, due to the volume of passengers they manage. Therefore, if you were to do everything separate from an agency, you may find out it is actually not cheaper at all.

  3. Do you need to book the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu far in advance?
  4. On the contrary to the Inca Trail, which has a limited daily allowance of only 500 people, Machu Picchu itself will allow 2500 per day meaning that you generally do not need to book this far in advance. However, in the summer months it is wise to book at least a few weeks before travelling as this quote is indeed reached on certain dates. During the rainy season, especially around Christmas, it is possible that only around half of this daily limit will sell. In all matters it’s advisable to book through an agency to avoid any disappointments.

  5. How much does entry to Machu Picchu cost?
  6. At the time of writing the prices were as follows:
    Foreigner: S/. 128 or S/. 64 with ISIC Student Card. (Roughly $ 50 – 25 respectively). Peruvians or members of the Andean Community pay: S/. 65 or S/. 33 for students.

  7. What is Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu Pueblo?
  8. This is the town located below the site of Machu Picchu next to the Urubamba river. There are a few attractions to the town itself, but it mainly serves as the last stop of the train service and treks to Machu Picchu, as well as the departure point of the shuttle buses up to the archaeological site.

    Aguas Calientes

  9. How can I get to Machu Picchu?
  10. There are various options to get to Machu Picchu:

    a)Hiking the four day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu or any other alternative trek, such as the Salkantay trek. This option requires making arrangements through an authorized travel agency, because otherwise you are simply not admitted on the trail. For the Inca Trail there is a 2 day and a 4 day option. For either one of these options you need to have good physical fitness.

    b)By train. This is the way by which the majority of people travel to Machu Picchu. Done in 1 or 2 days (with a night in Aguas Calientes to ensure an early entrance to Machu Picchu) you will travel by train in between Aguas Calientes and a train station just outside of Cusco (again when booking with a recommended travel agency you don’t have to worry about being stranded as you will have your transfer waiting for you).

    c)Going through Santa Teresa: This is a route only for adventure-seekers on a very tight budget. It is definitely not a comfortable ride, nor a short one. Between Cusco and Aguas Calientes you take 4 types of local transport over a day, with very unreliable connections, to finally reach your destination.

  11. Which train companies serve Aguas Calientes?
  12. There are two train companies: Perurail and Incarail. There is also a local train operated by Perurail, but you need a Peruvian passport/ID card to use this service. It is highly recommended to book a train excursion to Machu Picchu in advance, especially in high season (April-September).

  13. Once in Aguas Calientes, is it necessary to take a bus to Machu Picchu?
  14. No. You can either go by bus ($9.5 one-way, $18.50 roundtrip for foreigners, $ 6.50/13 for Peruvians), which will take around 20 minutes. Bus service starts at 5:30am until 3pm. However, you can also walk. This will take around 90 minutes and involves a winding road that climbs the 400m up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes. The site opens at 6:00am.

  15. Can I arrange a guide once at Machu Picchu?
  16. Yes you can. A private guide will cost between $30 and $60, with a group service between $15 and $25 per person. Like everything in Peru, the price will depend on the number of people, the season and your haggling ability! The maximum group size is around 20 people. You will pay more for guides speaking in any language other than Spanish and English. The most knowledgeable guides only work directly with travel agencies.

    Aguas Calientes

  17. What do you need to climb Huayna Picchu?
  18. This pushes the price of your entrance ticket up to around $60, or $30 with an ISIC student card. You also need to decide at what time you want to do the climb. Between 7 and 8am or between 10 and 11am are the only opportunities to get access to Huayna Picchu Mountain. Only 200 people are allowed for each slot, so you also need to book this in advance.  

  19. Anything else I should know?
  20. Yes, in fact there is! Tours will normally last around 2-2½ hours, so take some water and sun cream with you in case it is warm. Nothing other than water is allowed inside in terms of food and drinks. Any other personal belongings, such as walking sticks, can be left inside a bag at the entrance to Machu Picchu for free. You must also respect the ruins and the animals that live there, most notably the llamas. Whilst they make a great photo, you mustn’t annoy them. After all, they work as lawn mowers for free! 

    If you are still with unanswered questions, just contact Dos Manos travel agency in Peru and our multilingual staff will be more than happy to give you accurate answers and travel tips!

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4 Responses

  1. 1
    John 

    It is true I cannot take a small backpack inside? only water is allowed? Thanks, nice blog!

  2. 2
    Maga 

    I have another question, so, i need to decide beforehand wehter i want to go to Huayna Picchu? it cannot be decided at the moment when I enter Machu Picchu?

  3. 3
    South AmericanTravel Blog 

    Hi John,

    If you have a small back pack you can take this inside the park. However, you cannot take large backpacks and some food with wrappers and plastic bottles are not allowed as people have been found to litter inside the sanctuary. A shame, we know, but it is true!

  4. 4
    South AmericanTravel Blog 

    Hola Maga!
    Yes it is important that you make the reservation for the Huayna Picchu climb at least a week before you go to Machu Picchu! During the high season (June-August) we would recommend making the reservation a couple of weeks before you go. This climb is becoming more and more popular each year! The Huanya Picchu entrance ticket MUST be bought together with the entrance to Machu Picchu otherwise you will end up paying twice for the ticket to Machu Picchu!!

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