Best Things to Do in Machu Picchu

1- Machu Picchu and its history

machu picchu
The rock city of Machu Picchu is among the most fascinating archaeological sites in the world. Situated in Peru, in the Andes, at an altitude of 2,430 meters above sea level, Machu Picchu is a testament to the energy and creativity of the Inca people. At its peak, the Inca civilization stretched for approximately 4000 km across the Pacific coast of South America. Today, from the equator to Chile. This distance is practically the flat width of the continental United States. Machu Picchu situated in the middle of what was once a massive empire is one of the few well-preserved remains of the Inca culture, built from the mid-15th century Machu Picchu is a stunning illustration of the technical arts of the Incas. Here the Incas constructed palaces, temples, terraces, and rock infrastructures without the assistance of tools or wheels made from steel or iron. An especially notable aspect of the constructions and the lack of the use of mortar materials often utilized to operate the stones. Nevertheless, the stones of Machu Picchu have been cut so precisely that they fit together perfectly. The assassination of Emperor Atahualpa from the Spaniard Pizzaron marked the end of the Inca civilization.

The Spanish colonizers were more interested in gold than in the architectural work completed on the website of Machu Picchu. The website was also protected by its geographical situation and its very complex access. It thus sank into oblivion for at least three centuries before it was rediscovered by the American Hiram Bingham, by chance, on July 24, 1911, while he was searching for the town of Vitco, the final refuge of the Incas.

Situated between two fault lines, Machu Picchu frequently faces earthquakes but thanks to their perfect shapes the stones bounce back. But during earthquakes, they then easily return to their initial positions. These engineering feats have retained Machu Picchu in a remarkable state for more than 500 years. In 1983, UNESCO announced Machu Picchu a World Heritage Site and now visitors from all around the world come to pay tribute to this portion of history.

What to do in Machu Picchu?

You will discover during your trip which Machu Picchu gathers, according to archaeologists, two big areas.

From the south, the so-called agricultural zone, made of terraces specializing in cultivation. A variety of species of plants were preserved there and enjoyed a great exposure.

These terraces will make you think of a giant staircase: a rock wall constitutes them, in addition to the stacking of many materials like clay and stone; this to ease the flow of rainwater that, in too great amount, could ravage the crops.

This system allowed the people to feed themselves during the year.

Further north is the so-called metropolitan location. A wall, at least 400m long, separates the two zones.

The next zone of Machu Picchu was separated into two parts: the top and the base. Historically, the metropolitan zone has been quite separated into districts: the noble district, the ecclesiastical district, the popular district not to mention the sacred district.

It’s noted that the building of the website is caused by the assembly of quite irregular stones, that are held together with the earth.

Furthermore, you’ll surely notice that all of the buildings of Machu Picchu are wider at the bottom than at the top.

This is a significant element of classical Inca architecture! It allows them a much better resistance to earthquakes.

The Intihuatana

Credit: The Intihuatana
Found in the sacred district dedicated to the Sun God, the Intihuatana is a source of fascination for people to Machu Picchu. The name of the monument means”the place where the sun attaches itself” in Quechua.

There are two interpretations concerning the use of the area: it can be thought of as a sundial because a few of the faces of these stones are oriented according to the cardinal points. Or perhaps it’s an imitation that would pay homage to a sacred mountain…

The Temple of the Sun

temeple of the sun
Credit: The Temple of the Sun
You’ll have the opportunity to see the Temple of the Sun, which is also a favorite spot for visitors to Machu Picchu.

In this temple, you may recognize the only circular construction in Machu Picchu: the round tower. A sacred rock block is situated inside the Temple.

On the lower level, you’ll also find that the Temple of Mother Earth (Pachamama)… enabled the Incas to get the highly venerated”infra world” in which their ancestors dwelt. The tangle and the quality of the stones are remarkable.

The Royal Palace (Palacio del Inca)

palacio del inca
Credit: Palacio del Inca
There’s a rather characteristic central hallway that contributes to several patios. The structure is remarkable, it is among the largest structures of Machu Picchu.

The fountains

Credit: Fountains
In Machu Picchu, water had a sacred character, because its natural advantages were honored. The fountains which you can see a bear witness to this.

In the Temple of the Condor, you may admire the wings of this bird carved into the stone.

2- Purchase your ticket for Machu Picchu

machu picchu
Credit: Machu Picchu Ticket Entrance
There are 3 tickets to see Machu Picchu: easy, with the Huayna Picchu, or with the mountain.

  • The single ticket
  • The joint ticket with the Wayna Picchu
  • The joint ticket with the Montaña

The single ticket

The basic ticket gives you access to the whole website of Machu Picchu. Since July 1, 2017, you have to pick an entry group and also have a manual (this mandatory guide step was decided but is still not implemented in 2019!). There are two classes, of 2500 people each. The first group visits in the morning, between 6 am and 12 noon, the next in the day from 12 noon to 5.30 pm.

The combination ticket with the Wayna Picchu

Attention, the amount of tickets is limited to 200 per group. There are two groups (7 am to 8 am and 10 am to 11 am).

In case you’ve got an excellent physical condition, I suggest that you scale the Huayna Picchu (or Wayna Picchu).

When I say climbing, it is not a figure of speech: you will truly climb occasionally. The climb is rough, it is physical, the path is extremely narrow and irregular… and it is quite long. But what satisfaction to make it to the top, and what a view of Machu Picchu! Since the Huayna Picchu (“young mountain” in Quechua) provides a stunning view of the hills surrounding the town. Underneath the Huayna Picchu, the most inquisitive can extend their route into the Temple of the Moon, dug into the rock.

The joint ticket with the Montaña

Attention, the amount of tickets is limited to 400 for each group. There are two groups (7 am to 8 am and 9 am to 10 am).

For the less adventuresome, you can handle the Mountain (“Montaña”). As we had to pick between the two, we opted for the Huayna Picchu. The Mountain takes more time, the opinion, it appears, is splendid. It’s often from there the magazine photographs are taken using a llama that sits next to Machu Picchu in the background. That will be for next time!

3- How much does it cost to enter Machu Picchu?

machu picchu
Here are the costs of Machu Picchu on the official site for international travelers (1 dollar equals 3.38 Peruvian sol)

Machu Picchu

— Mature: 152 soles
— Student: 77 bottoms
— Child: 70 bottoms

Machu Picchu + Waynapicchu

— Adult: 200 bottoms
— Student: 125 bottoms
— Child: 118 bottoms

Machu Picchu + Machu Picchu Mountain

— Adult: 200 bottoms
— Student: 125 bottoms
— Child: 118 bottoms

Notice :

— Entry to Machu Picchu is free for kids under the age of 8, however, you’ll have to show your passport at the entry.
— The child fare is valid around 17 years old.
— To get the student fare (25 and under) it is impossible to get the ticket online, it has to be bought on-site with the student card of this university in hand. The card has to be valid until December 31 of the current calendar year.

4- How to get to Machu Picchu?

machu picchu
To go from Lima to Machu Picchu you have to first visit Cusco.

There are two ways to get there right: by bus or by plane.

By bus

— Lima to Cusco by bus takes about 10 pm.
— This is the least expensive alternative (between 100 and 220 soles).
— it’s quite important to have a serious and recognized company such as Cruz del Sur, Moviltours, Tepsa, Ormeño, and Civa.
— The path is very winding due to the hills so it’s likely to feel nausea.

By plane

— The flight from Lima to Cusco takes 1 hour and 15 minutes. There are departures every 30 minutes from the Jorge Chavez airport.
— Several companies supply the route and the costs vary enormously.

5- Take-away things

Credit: Things for Machu Picchu
Going to go to the Inca city means moving on a day-long expedition at the end of that you will certainly be exhausted, both physically by walking (and walking!) And emotionally, to follow up on the feelings aroused by the beauty of this area.

Here are some things to consider along so as to not spoil your day by lack of foresight:

— A sweater and a t-shirt (several layers to change according to the weather and physical attempts )
— A waterproof windbreaker
— Protection from the sun (sun cream, hat…)
— Sunglasses
— Walking shoes
— A bottle of water

6- Is the manual mandatory?

machu pichu
According to official regulations because 2017, a manual would be compulsory for the visit of Machu Picchu.

However, in practice, this step has not been implemented in 2020 and it’s possible to go to Machu Picchu freely.

Will it be compulsory in the future? Perhaps, but for the moment it’s possible to enter without a manual.

7- Where to find a guide?

machu pichu
If you would like a guided tour of Machu Picchu, then it is going to be very easy to discover a guide at the entrance of the website. There are many of these, and they provide their service in a number of languages.

8- How much does a guide price?

machu pichu
It depends if it is a personal guide or using a group, as well as the language. Usually, people in English or Spanish are in precisely the identical cost, French (and other languages) is somewhat more expensive.

For a guided tour of 2h-2h30, you can expect about 140 bottoms for two people, or 40-50 soles per person for a bigger group.

To pay less, you can join other passengers!

9- How long can you expect to stay in Machu Picchu?

machu pichu
In theory, with the new regulations, the ticket enables you to remain 4 hours on site.

However, for now, this isn’t applied and it’s possible to remain on site until closing at 5.30 pm since there’s absolutely not no control. Needless to say, this can change at any moment.

Normally traffic stay between 4 and 6 am, it all depends on your rhythm and your interest to see what on the website.