Here’s What You’re Missing at Machu Picchu

I call Machu Picchu the greatest marvel of South America not for nothing. The sheer size and complexity of it can leave jaws dropping when you witness it on site. Machu Picchu is one of the main tourist attractions in Peru and it will remain to be. Machu Picchu was built around the 1450s and it was never really completed. I can feel what’s going thought Hiram Bingham’s mind when he discovered the site in 1911. An ancient city within tropical terrain built on top of a mountain at 2430 meters above sea level, absolutely speechless. Machu Picchu is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

DSCN0673Right before the first ray of sunlight hit Machu Picchu

To get into Peru, the most accessible airport is Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima. My round trip flight from San Francisco to Lima costs around USD 700, consisting of one transfer each way. I did some flight tickets research and found out that the website which offers the most competitive prices is cheapOair.

DSCN0665PeruRail Train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes costs about USD 50 to USD 120 each way, depending on the carriage

DSCN0664Journey is about 90 minutes from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes

DSCN0668The trains are fitted with moon roof tops for viewing the landscapes around

There are various ways to get to Machu Picchu. The adventurous and most authentic way is to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, you need a permit to hike it and it takes 2 – 4 days. It is recommended to get it at least four months in advance because it is the most popular trek of all time. Another way is to take a bus from Aguas Calientes which is also known as Machu Picchu town, a round trip cost around USD 20. Bring some snacks and water before getting on the bus because those can get really expensive at Machu Picchu.

DSCN0676The sun hits the tip of Huayna Picchu, everything seems to come alive

I recalled as the sun rises, I heard numerous shutters going off around me. It was just like a ballet concert when dancers start to strutter their stuffs, photographers putting their camera into action. Those moments are extraordinary, because it felt like living history once again.

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DSCN0687DSCN0694Huayna Picchu

The hike up Huayna Picchu is steep and tedious. But it provides a bird eye view of the whole area around Machu Picchu. I didn’t do it because my schedule was tight. It requires good fitness and is pretty dangerous, so think twice before doing it.

DSCN0697My fellow adventurers posing for some mandatory Machu Picchu shot

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DSCN0712Our guide, Javier explaining the history of Machu Picchu

DSCN0717And we started our walk to explore the grounds!

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DSCN0757These blocks were meticulous cut and built

DSCN0759View of the Urubamba River from Machu Picchu

DSCN0761An old Inca trail that’s inaccessible because of erosion over the years

DSCN0766Here’s how tourists look like on Machu Picchu

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DSCN0772The town of Aguas Calientes

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DSCN0787Local market in Aguas Calientes

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A visit to Machu Picchu is definitely not cheap, a plane ticket flying out of Asia can easily cost USD 3000. I recommend you to bundle your trip to Machu Picchu with some other South America destinations to make your flights worth it. If you are a student on exchange, or working in USA or Canada, your flight tickets are going to cost much lesser than someone flying from Europe or Asia.


2 thoughts on “Here’s What You’re Missing at Machu Picchu

  1. Great review and lovely pics. Really envious of your photos from the summit itself, but nice to see the insides of the trains too. From Singapore, you can get to Sao Paulo in Brazil and a cheap flight onwards to Lima. That’s probably the cheapest way from Asia. But you’ve given me some good advice as I continue to plan my next continent! 😀 Just one thing, did you see many solo travellers at the summit, or where they all in groups from the Inca Trail? I am still not sure if I am hiking the Inca Trail, may just go for the daytrip.

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    1. Thanks Lee. There are a lot of people who did not do the Inca Trail and went up Machu Picchu by bus instead. I would advise to do the Inca Trail. Even solo travellers doing the Inca Trail would be hanging out in groups by the time they reach Machu Picchu because of the bonding over the couple of days. Cheers.

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