Finding The Hidden Website
Booking tickets for Machu Picchu is ridiculously complicated and frustrating. This is because there are a million tour companies all working to earn your business, and they’ll stress you out unnecessarily saying that tickets will sell out and such but truth is, you don’t need a tour.
Also, there are hundreds of tour companies fighting to appear first on google searches, so the government site is buried in the mix. But you will save a ton of money if you do it yourself and it really is quite nice to go up there in your own headspace and get the tour guide that you want.
The tour guides cost about $10 when you share them with a few people. There are always people hanging around at the entrance who are looking to share the cost.
To book, you’ll need a visa card, not a visa debit and not a Mastercard. You’ll have exactly two hours to pay before you lose your booking so be prepared with dates and drivers license. The site is frequently down – keep trying.
We booked the museum on Saturday, Huayna Picchu hike on Sunday and Machu Picchu on Monday. It was perfect because Peruvians get free entry on Sundays so the place is crowded with local people, and tourists are generally told to avoid this day. It’s nice to feel like you’re doing something that the locals do!
If you want to take your chances on trying to buy Machu Picchu tickets on the day, you might get lucky. The booth is downtown near the bridge and you’ll need your passport. Set your alarm clock for the earliest bus that you can. Buses leave every 15 minutes or so, and there’s a coffee shop open right beside the big lineup selling espresso.
Making Your Way To Machu Picchu
First, start the planning from home by updating your vaccinations. In Canada you can go directly to London Drugs and speak with the pharmacist about what shots you need for Peru. Go at least one month before departure, as some shots you need to have twice.
Spend a few days in Cusco first. Book a nice hotel in advance with airport pickup, and don’t try to save money or spend in Peruvian currency – budget for three days of comfortable lodging and upscale restaurants as you acclimatize. One of the benefits of staying in a nice place was the high quality information available from front desk staff and concierge, who helped us coordinate all our transfers up to Machu Picchu.
Whether you embrace the adventure of the Inca Trail is a personal decision, but we decided to hike the ruins each day instead. There was something more appealing about being able to eat good food, have a massage and sleep in a comfortable bed after a day of hiking, that roughing it on a 5-day trek didn’t offer! Although it’s the adventure of a lifetime for many people, often there are up to 12 hours of trekking in a day with most people in your group not even close to being physically ready for the adventure.
Of course, some people love this, and I’m not going to diss those that do. However we spoke to travelers who didn’t enjoy the hike or the experience as much as they had hoped. We spent several days in Machu Picchu walking the many stunning trails in the archeological site, and that was amazing.
Expensive but well worth it, Peru Rail has truly one of the best tourist trains that I’ve ever traveled on. We took the Vistadome class and dined on delicious local cuisine with impeccable service and stunning views. There was fascinating commentary and we were even treated to a fashion show as part of the entertainment. Tickets do sell out quickly so try to book at least a week in advance.
I recommend catching a train that gets you into Aguas Caliente before 3pm because the museum closes at 5pm and you’ll need 30 minutes to walk there, plus about an hour to visit. It’s really well worth it! Head to the village square of Aquas Caliente for high energy local activities, great vibes and amazing restaurants. This is an awesome town with incredible ruins – well worth staying a few days. Have a great trip!
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