Saturday, 1 August 2015

Things to know before you go: Machu Picchu

How to get to Machu Picchu?
- Trek: Probably the most popular option for students, there are a variety of treks available. They vary in difficulty, length, price, and number of days, thus you can choose one which best suits you. 
- Train: Due to a state monopoly this is the most expensive option. Though that said, the trains are very luxurious, and the views on board are a treat in itself. A round trip will roughly set you back $140USD for a return.
- Bus: It's possible to get a bus for 90 soles for Cusco to the town of Agues Caliantes. From there, if you don't want to the do the long walk to the entrance, you can get a bus up for $24USD return. 

Tips for Machu Picchu
- Be rich and stay at the $1000USD a night hotel next to the park entrance and enjoy a $40 buffet before beginning your journey... Lol jk.
- If possible, buy Wayne Picchu tickets months in advance - these are sold out for about a month and a half in advance as there's very few places. Ditto for Machu Picchu mountain (separate from Machu Picchu park), though slightly more available. 
- If you're getting the bus up to the entrance gate (otherwise an hour and a half walk up steps from the town), buy the tickets the night before. It's $24 USD for a return, or $12 single.
- If on the bus, though the first one leaves at 5:30am, begin queuing around 4:30am to get up before sunrise. Queues get huge very quickly.
- Try climbing the mountain first, otherwise when the sun is up it starts to get really hot. Also, if you have tickets, make sure you check what time last entrance is as I saw many disappointed travellers who didn't realise after 11am they couldn't use their ticket as they shut the mountain.
- It's well worth hiring a guide if one isn't included else you'll have no idea what you're looking at really. It was good to have someone explain what I was looking at - that said, you could always visit the Machu Picchu museum in a Cusco which provides you with far more information for a likely far cheaper price.
- You can pay to put your bag in a locker, 3 soles.
- Buy food and water outside and take it in as its scarcely available once inside. Though it says at the entrance no food allowed, they didn't openly enforce this as you passed. On the main archeological site however, the Rangers were quite strict about eating/ sitting on walls/ jumping for photos etc. but on the paths leading away/ on the mountains, there's nobody around. 
- There's no toilet inside, only one by the entrance. You're only allowed to re-enter the park twice, so think carefully before eating that curry the night before or downing that 2L bottle of water! (Not to mention the entrance is a trek from anywhere else in the park). 
- You have to be surprisingly physically fit.... It's definitely not easily accessible. Although admittedly I am very unfit, I did not expect it to be that demanding. (Yes it's on a mountain - but who knew it was so steep at parts!)... Again, think twice before inviting your gran up there with you (though that said, I was lapped by people 3 times my age haha).

Lastly.... GO! And go now... Our guide reckons that due to a vast amount of cracks discovered by geologists beneath the area, you won't be able to visit it in around 10 years time - I don't know how accurate that is, but why risk it or wait? Book your ticket now! 

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