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.
Right 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.
PeruRail Train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes costs about USD 50 to USD 120 each way, depending on the carriage
Journey is about 90 minutes from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes
The 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.
The 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.
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.
My fellow adventurers posing for some mandatory Machu Picchu shot
Our guide, Javier explaining the history of Machu Picchu
And we started our walk to explore the grounds!
These blocks were meticulous cut and built
View of the Urubamba River from Machu Picchu
An old Inca trail that’s inaccessible because of erosion over the years
Here’s how tourists look like on Machu Picchu
The town of Aguas Calientes
Local market in Aguas Calientes
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.