Machu Picchus accessibility is mostly natural pathways, rocky stairways and rough trails. Although in some places there are steep climbs its definitely worth it to explore this majestic city amongst the cloud forest.
In Machu Picchu and visiting the citadel and ruins, most of the nature and ecological walks are only 1 and 2 day trips at a relaxed pace, however some of the activities and excursions are more physically demanding. With varying difficulty levels that sometimes require hiking to higher altitudes, we recommend you consult your doctor before participating in any trip, become prepared and take all the necessary precautions.
Considering the varying altitudes of many of Peru’s destinations, travelers should slowly acclimatize themselves at lower altitudes first before ascending to higher ones. Acclimatization is the bodys natural adjustment of decreased oxygen levels available at high altitudes. It’s a slow process that usually takes a few days and given enough time, your body adapts to the decrease in oxygen and you feel fina again. Keep in mind that some people don’t experience any symptoms at all so it depends on your constitution and how well your body adjusts.
Machu Picchu is located lower than the city of Cusco, so if you acclimatize in Cusco first, you shouldn’t have any problems when visiting the lost Incan city(unless you go on a Trek where it can sometimes take you a little higher than Cusco itself.
PREVENTING ALTITUDE SICKNESS
Altitude sickness, otherwise known as acute mountain sickness (AMS) or soroche is a pathological condition that is caused by acute exposure to low air pressure (usually above 2,400 meters or approximately 8,000 feet above sea level. Machu Picchu is located at 2300 meters/ 7600 feet above sea level and the city of Cusco is located at 3500 meters or 11,500 feet.
The main cause of altitude sickness is going too high too quickly without letting the body adjust and includes symptoms like headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, shortness of breath, fatigue and sleep disorder amongst others.
When reaching any high altitude destination, avoid eating too much, try to take it easy and drink lots of coca leaf tea. This will minimize the chances of experiencing any symptoms of altitude sickness.
If you stay at a high altitude, try to limit exercise or strenuous physical activity; rest whenever you feel tired and drink plenty of water. Whilst you should be able to walk and explore the area, make sure to take it easy especially on the first and second days.
TRANSPORT & SPECIAL FACTORS
Altitude sickness and/or traveler’s diarrhea are the two most common illnesses you might experience when visiting the citadel of Machu Picchu, so make sure to take the necessary precautions.
The official currency is Peru is the Nuevo Sol (PEN) which is divided into 100 céntimos. In Machu Picchu most major credit card payments are accepted, however there are no facilities to exchange Travelers’ cheques so travelers are advised to carry cash (in Soles) on hand as foreign currency exchange is limited.
Its also advisable to exchange your money for Soles before coming to the Machu Picchu though payment is accepted in both US Dollars and/or in Soles.
Within Peru, to make international calls, dial 00 + country code + city code + telephone number. For inter-city calls: dial: 0 + city code + telephone number.
HEALTH / INSURANCE
Although no vaccinations are officially required in Cusco, visitors are still advised to take the necessary precautions, especially if you’re planning to travel to jungle regions. The most common ailments for travelers are diarrhea and altitude sickness. Health care is fairly limited in these areas, so make sure you take sufficient safety measures regarding food(and only drinking safe or boiled water) and don’t partake in excessive alcohol intake(as the high altitude can affect how fast the body is affected by it).
In Peru you can experience the culture in a wide variety of ways. Whether you’re into salsa dancing, Andean Ceremonies, horseback riding, cooking lessons, quaint authentic nightlife, trekking, bathing in naural hot springs, going an exciting culinary adventure or simply to enjoy the ruins and the lively nightlife, Peru definitely has lots of things to offer.
We provide an ongoing commitment to the Planets sustainability and preservation by offering responsible tourism in all aspects. All our tours are provided through responsible tourist operators that respect the environment and our websites are run 100% Carbon Neutral.
Location and Access to Machu Picchu
The Machu Picchu Historical Reserve is located in the Andes Mountains deep in a cloud forest between the Amazon basin and the City of Cusco.
ARRIVAL AND TRANSPORT FROM CUSCO
There are two main ways to arrive to the Machu Picchu Historical Reserve. You can either get there by taking one of the Incan Treks or get there faster and in more comfort by Train. Most visitors choose to the train, which is a 3 ½ hour journey from Cusco to Aguas Calientes and enjoy its rich scenic beauty without strenuous physical exercise. Alternatively, if youre a more adventurous type and love to be in the great outdoors. you might choose to take the two- to five-day Inca Trail or salkantay and hike amongst many gorgeous views and ruins along the way.
ACCESS FROM CUSCO
There are 3 trains that depart daily from Cusco and eight trains leaving from Ollantaytambo* to Machu Picchu, from 6:00 a.m. to 2:55 p.m. daily. Schedules and the duration of the journey will vary depending on the train station selected (3.5 hours from Cusco and 1.5 hours from Ollantaytambo). Round-trip costs between from US$ 70.00 to US$ 500.00 per person, depending on the choice of service.
*Since the floods in April this year, the Ollantaytambo station hasn’t been reopened, so until its in service again you can be take the train from
There are many scheduled three-to-five-day treks like the Inca Trail and the Salkantay Trail. All hiking routes require previous arrangements and advanced bookings, due to limited quotas.
Most treks start from km. 88, Qorihuayrachina, at 2,600 meters (8,530 feet) above sea level.
Machu Picchu Weather
Machu Picchu has a subtropical highland climate that is warm and humid during the day and cold at night with temperatures varying between 8°C (46° F) and 22°C (72° F).
The humidity ranges between 77% and 91% and annual rainfall is 400-1000 mm (16-39 inches). Dry season is generally from May to October and the orchid season runs from November to April.
Machu Picchu is surrounded by the Andean Cloud Forest, which is a wet, tropical forest characterized by a presence of some clouds, even in the dry season. The clouds often cling to the Mountain tops and give it a very mystical and enchanting feel.
What to wear
We recommended to wear light cotton clothes during the day, but also to warm clothes and a rain jacket for the nights. The outdoor Andean sun is very strong and we highly recommend always using sun screen. Whilst there aren’t very many mosquitoes in Machu picchu its still a good idea to bring a repellant for outings after sunset.
The Peruvian cuisine is recognized as one of the most exotic in the world(as it has a fusion between the modern international kitchen and the ancient cultural dishes. Peru has many exotic ingredients and is home to a large variety of native ingredients which are now sold in many countries. The Peruvian cuisine is one of the main highlights of the country and is an exceptional way to experience the culture. As Peru is a third world country, we specially recommend to avoid eating from street vendors or in places where hygienic conditions are not guaranteed. By following these simple measures should have an incredible, exciting and enjoyable experience during your stay in Peru.
There is no vaccination officially required to enter Peru. Travelers that are planning to visit only highlands and coastal cities do not require any inoculation. However, it’s advisable for independent travelers who plan to visit some particular jungle areas at altitudes below 2,000 m. (6,500 ft.) to consult their doctor regarding hepatitis A and typhoid before leaving their country. Since the effect of most vaccines is felt 10 days after they are given, visitors should take sufficient precautions in advance. In addition, it’s worthwhile nothing that neither Malaria nor Dengue exists in the Machu Picchu Area.
Tap water in Peru is not safe to drink, especially for foreigners. The best option is to drink bottled water, available in various sizes throughout the country or by boiling any water for a couple of minutes. Sterilization tablets are also a good alternative.