The simple answer: look to your left just after the park entrance. But getting your passport stamped at Machu Picchu is about so much more: it is evidence of the great journey you just made.
Still, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Here is a step-by-step guide of how to get to Machu Picchu and how to get your passport stamped:
- Find a way to get to Cusco There are only 2 ways to do this. You either book the 1.5-hour flight from Lima to Cusco or take the long and strenuous 22-hour bus ride (not recommended for obvious reasons).
- Get from Cusco to the train station From Cusco, you can book the train either from Poroy (30-minutes from Cusco proper) or Ollantaytambo (2-hours from Cusco proper). I always recommend booking the Vistadome because it has windows in the ceiling.
- Enjoy one of the Top 5 train rides in the world The scenery changes from high-Andes to Cloud Rainforest within a 2-hour train ride. From 18,000’ glacier-covered peaks, to jagged, jungle covered mountains, this will be one of the most memorable trips of your life.
- Plan your entrance There are 2 ways to get from Aguas Calientes (at the base of Machu Picchu) to the entrance of the famous Machu Picchu Citadel. You hike or you ride the bus. The hike is 1,000 foot incline and takes around 2-hours. The bus is a 25-minute ride up switchbacks. Either way, you will end up at the entrance of Machu Picchu.
- Pull out your passport Peru’s government requires you to present your passport in order to enter the ruins. You will have booked your tickets weeks or months in advance in preparation for this moment. Don’t leave your passport behind because they will deny your entrance.
- You have from 8 to 5 The passport-stamping station is located just to the left of the entrance to Machu Picchu. There is usually a small line of people waiting. You have until 5:00pm to get the stamp. The least busy time is in the afternoon between 2:00 – 5:00pm.
When you round the corner and take your first glance at this famous city, you will realize why people travel from allaround the world to see Machu Picchu; it is worth the journey. No one said it better than Hiram Bingham, who ‘discovered’ Machu Picchu in 1911:
“Few romances can ever surpass that of the granite citadel on top of the beetling precipices of Machu Picchu, the crown of Inca Land.”