When you think of travelling South America and you will surely think of Machu Picchu, it is after all one of the most important archaeological sites in the entire world and one of the best places to photograph! This place is more than worth visiting and this guide will talk about how you should tackle your trip to Machu Picchu.
The closest city to Machu Picchu is Cusco, which is a great place to acclimatise yourself to the very high altitude of the area. Altitude sickness can be a common problem, particularly if you are planning on hiking on all or parts of the Inca Trail, so spending a few days to get used to the altitude and exploring the area is a great idea.
Buying tickets in advance is advisable, particularly as the Peruvian government have imposed limitations on the number of people that are allowed to enter Machu Picchu each year. This is particularly the case in the peak tourist season, as there is a possibility that you could go there and actually miss out!
How to visit
If you are fit and able, there is no question that you should travel to Machu Picchu exactly as the Incas did, by hiking the Inca Trail. There are a few options here, but the best and most famous is the 4 day hike. The best thing about hiking the Inca trail is that Machu Picchu (while the most famous and impressive) is only one piece of a large network of Inca sites in the region and you can experience a lot more if you take on the Inca Trail.
For those looking for a more relaxed option it is possible to take a train ride to Machu Picchu, which only takes a few hours and this is obviously much less physically demanding and takes less time. This is a good option for families and those with much less time.
Groups and porters
Hiking the Inca Trail is no longer possible to do independently and regulations along the trail have become stricter in an attempt to preserve the trail and the surrounding environment. Therefore you will need to be in an organised group.
You can also hire porters along the trail to help you to carry your baggage. It is important that if you do this that you ensure that your porters are being paid correctly in order to promote sustainable tourism in the area. The Peruvian government has also created a set of guidelines for porters, this includes paying them a fair wage and making sure that they do not carry too much baggage.
For those hiking the trail, sunrise is the perfect time to get a glimpse of Machu Picchu at its finest hour of the day. On the last day of your hike you can leave before the sun rises and race all the way to the Sun Gate to see the entire complex with the sunrise as a backdrop. This is something that you will surely never forget!