6 Facts You Should Know About Machu Picchu

what is machu picchu

Machu Picchu is mysterious. So much is still unknown about this Wonder of the World. But there are many details that you should know before you travel to the Lost City of the Incas.

1. How to get to Machu Picchu

The first step it’s getting to Lima, Peru. Then take a flight to Cusco, which takes a little over an hour. There are only 3 ways to get to Machu Picchu.

Train: You can purchase a round-trip train ticket from PeruRail or Inca Rail, this is the easiest way to go. in both Lima and Cusco to buy the tickets and 3 stations where you can board: Poroy, Urubamba, or Ollantaytambo.

Trek: The famous Inca Trail sells out months in advance and needs to be booked through an accredited trekking company. It’s a 4-day hike that will take you past more than a half dozen Incan archaeological sites.

Car/ Trek: This might be the cheapest option, but it’s not as safe. You’ll need to arrange for transfer via car from Cusco to Santa Teresa (6-hour ride approx.), and this involves a long trek along the tracks from the Hydroelectric station to Aguas Calientes.

Aguas Calientes is the city at the base of the ruins. You can head directly to the mountain or to your hotel. This is a great place to spend a night. You can choose between hiking approximately 2 hours to the entrance, or taking a bus. A round trip ticket to and from Machu Picchu is about $25. It is open from 6:00 AM – 5:00 PM.

what is machu picchu

2. What is Machu Picchu?

It’s a 15th-century Inca site located on a ridge between the Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu mountains. Nobody really knows the original function of Machu Picchu. Some hypothesize it was a retreat for Incan royals; others believe it was a place for the Incan virgins to live.

Machu Picchu is a Quechua word that comes from Machu which means old or ancient, and Picchu meaning mountain, therefore, is translated as Old Mountain. 

3. Huayna Picchu 

The famous jagged mountain that looms behind the “Lost City” in photos is Huayna Picchu. Each day, just 400 people are permitted to hike it, so it’s important to get your ticket with some anticipation. Hiking is the only way to get there, the hike takes between 1.5 and 2 hours.

4. Elevation

Machu Picchu (7,972′ feet) it’s lower than Cusco (11,152 feet) and is located northwest of Cusco and the Sacred Valley, down into the Amazon jungle. The elevation may cause some altitude sickness. To avoid it you could try “mate de coca“, a traditional herbal tea from Cusco, or took a pill before you arrive. Please consult with your doctor.

5. Machu Picchu Stamp

The passport-stamping station is located just to the left of the entrance to the Lost City of the Incas. You have until 5:00 pm to get the stamp. The least busy time is between 2:00 – 5:00 pm.

6. Best Time To Go 

If you are looking for the perfect photo, you should go from May to October, during Peru’s dry season. Between June and July, it’s the crowdest time because Peruvians are on vacation and “Inti Raymi“, the festival of the sun is celebrated each year on June 24.