Every year, numerous people make the journey to visit the remains of the ancient Incan city known as Machu Picchu. The destination was constructed sometime during the 15th century and features the ruins of various temples, residences, terraces and waterways. The unique site stands on a mountaintop. The fascinating architecture consists of huge stone blocks that fit neatly together without the need for mortar. The cultural heritage site has been studied for its administrative, political and religious importance to the early people. There are many things potential guests need to know if planning a visit to the historic destination.
A limited number of visitors are allowed on the site per day. Tourists are typically divided into groups of 200 guests each. To gain admission to the location, potential visitors must obtain tickets online at machupiccu.gob.pe using a credit card or by using a Banco de la Nacion Multired card. Once the site receives the payment, guests must return to the site, enter the reservation code and print the ticket. Payments are also received at the Banco de la Nacion destinations located throughout Peru.
After arriving in the country, visitors are advised to spend the day in the nearby town of Aguas Calientes in order to acclimate to the elevation, which is approximately 6,700 feet. Machu Picchu has an elevation of just under 8,000 feet. Failure to get accustomed to being at the higher elevations may cause altitude sickness. Stay hydrated, avoid strenuous physical activity and alcohol. Symptoms of altitude sickness include fatigue, headache and nausea.
Getting to the Site
The Incans developed hundreds of roads that venture up to Machu Picchu. There are buses that travel from town to the sanctuary throughout the day. But, many tour operators offer hikes to the site. Hikes vary in duration and comfort level. However, all require camping out along the way. Physically fit guests often prefer a trek around Salkantay Mountain, which stands at 20,569 feet. The trek is shorter but more physically grueling.
When to Visit
Machu Picchu remains open all year. However, the area’s rainy season occurs from October through April. The hiking trails are also closed during the month of February. The peak tourist season occurs during July and August, which also means more people are in town. Sundays are especially crowded, as Cusco residents are allowed to visit the destination for free.