Most travelers wanting to visit Machu Picchu will require a flight into Lima, Peru. From there you can do what I did and take the convenient option of a connecting flight to the city of Cusco. The alternative option is to make your way overland. Either way the final town closest to Machu Picchu is called Aguas Calientes, which you can reach via a train from Cusco.
A benefit of visiting Cusco is that it is a main base for various treks to Machu Picchu. A more important benefit is the altitude acclimatisation. Cusco sits at a level of 3,399m above sea level and Machu Picchu is 2,430m. What this means is that once you get used to the altitude of Cusco then you will feel like Superman on Machu Picchu."The best way to acclimatise to altitude is the same as winning over your evil parents in law: spend more time together." It is advisable for the first two days to nap regularly and rest your body. The science behind altitude acclimation relates to your body not producing enough red blood cells (Hemoglobin) which carries the oxygen.
For hundreds of years the locals and their Incan ancestry have been consuming Coca whether by chewing it, drinking Coca tea or snorting it (I joke about the last method). Did you know the Incan didn’t have a written language?!? I sidetrack, um back to the topic of Coca…..The coca plant is internationally known for its contribution to the famous cocaine product. It is believed by the locals that drinking Coca tea provides you with more energy. I can’t remember whether this is scientifically proven but I seriously believe in the altitude powers of Coca. Most hotels or other accommodation providers will provide dried coca leafs or coca tea packets free of charge. The dried leaves are more potent and you add hot water to make tea. You can also purchase Coca lollies from the supermarket if you don’t like tea. An increase in sugar levels also results in an increase in red blood cells. So feel free to not feel guilty about downing a bottle of fluoro Incan Cola or just your plain old Coca Cola.
Once you are in Aguas Calientes you have two decisions to make about getting to Machu Picchu.
|Hike Up||Be at the front of the ticket queue||Wake up at 4am
|Bus Up||Not Strenuous||Longer line in the ticket queue|
I visited Machu Picchu for two consecutive days. For the first day I hiked up and bused back down. On the second day I did the reverse by busing up and hiking back down. The hike takes one and a half to two and a half hours long depending on your fitness. The first bus starts at 6am.
1. Book the Inca Trail many months in advance if you want to complete a 3 to 5 day hike. If the Inca Trail is sold out for the month you want to go, there are other treks like the Salkantay which still finish up at Machu Pichu. The Salkantay trek can be booked once arrive in Cusco.
2. Book tickets to Huayana Picchu in advance. This ticket will allow you to climb the steep and adventurous mountain which forms the backdrop of the Machu Picchu ruins.
3. Better yet hike up Montana Machu Picchu for the best views.
4. Pack quality hiking boots, water and food to explore the ruins.