Last year my good friend Stephen R Buzzi and I ticked off one of our lifelong bucket list items and visited the incredible Machu Picchu in Peru. In total we actually spent just over 10 days in Peru and whilst we did spend some time in Lima and a few other smaller towns, Machu Picchu was the main event which we were looking forward to.
In case you aren’t aware, Machu Picchu is a citadel which was built on top of a mountain in the 15th Century by the Inca civilization, now abandoned this is one of the 7 Wonders of the World and a fascinating archaeological site. There seems to be a lot of confusing information online so I wanted to lay down how we did Machu Picchu.
Many people suggested that you could stay in Cuzco the night before and then make your way to Machu Picchu but I really wouldn’t recommend it. Cuzco to the town below Machu Picchu, Aguascalientes, will take 4 hours alone. Once you are in the town you can either wait for a bus or walk to the top, either way you will be looking at a further 2 hours before entering. Even if you leave Cuzco on the first train at 05:40, you still won’t be at Machu Picchu until 12pm, too late to witness the morning splendor.
The best place to stay in my view is in Aguascalientes itself, perfect for getting up early and heading up the mountain. Either get the train direct from Cuzco to Aguascalientes or jump on a bus to Ollantaytambo from Cuzco, and then take the train from there.
Walk or Bus
So, in order to get from Aguascalientes to the top of Machu Picchu, you have two options, walk or bus. If you want to get to the top for 6am sunrise, you will need to get the first bus at 530, something which people queue for from 3am! I couldn’t see much difference between seeing it at 6am or 8am and so I woke up at 530, had a quick bite and then headed down to see the bus situation. At 615am the queue was over an hour long to get the bus, a bus which takes 30 minutes to reach the top. I decided then, to walk to the top.
The walk was tough as I am not in good shape, but it was more than doable, the steps to the top essentially crisscross the road that the bus takes and there is a real sense of achievement when you get to the top.
If you don’t mind queueing or you are struggling physically, by all means take the bus which costs $20 return or $12 each way.
I think that the way we did it was the best, we saw Machu Picchu in all of its glory and we were able to really feel like we had achieved something, if you’re going, try out our method.