Machu Picchu might be an ancient land that you dream of visiting and if that’s so, here’s my advice: just go! It’s an amazing place but not without some pretty strict rules you need to follow to get there. So here are my tips for visiting Machu Picchu Sanctuary so you know everything before going.
Entering Machu Picchu
The gates open at 6am everyday and close at 5pm. Once at the gates, it’s only about a 50 foot walk to the citadel itself. Mid-day is packed, as that’s when most tourists are there (many people do it as a day trip from Cusco so they arrive around 11:30 and leave around 2:30 to catch their trains).
For the best times to go inside the citadel, we found it was 2 different times of day as follows:
Morning – Be in line at the gate before they open at 6am. We stayed right outside the gates at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge specifically for this reason, because the line gets really long. We were about 4th in line and we were there at 5:40am. The first busses arrive around 5:50am but there were lots of hikers already there when we arrived, so be sure you time it right to be there early as they only let the first 50 people in at 6am and then space it out after that.
One note on the morning at Machu Picchu, it’s often very foggy and you should expect that if you enter when they open. We were in at 6am, hiked to the top of the Guard’s House (where the best views are) right away but had to wait until about 6:45am for the fog to clear a bit for photos. And within 15 minutes of us shooting photos, the fog had rolled back in and stayed pretty thick until we left at 8:30am. So give yourself time for weather.
Late afternoon – We had heard that between 3 and 5pm was the best time in the day to see Machu Picchu and that was totally right. Most people are leaving by 2:30 or 3pm to head back to catch their trains to Cusco, or they’ve been up there all day exploring and are tired by that time. We entered around 3pm and stayed until they closed at 5pm and had huge areas of Machu Picchu all to ourselves. Plus the afternoon shadows and light at this time are beautiful for photos.
Food, Water and Restrooms
Restrooms are outside the gates and require coins to use, so keep some Soles coins. You are not allowed to bring food inside the citadel and the guides are very strict about this and watch for it. So just don’t do it. You can and should bring water though, just be mindful of the bottle when you’re done and make sure to put it in the trash cans outside the entrance when you leave.
While we didn’t have much of a problem with bugs during our visit to Machu Picchu, I’ve heard horror stories of people’s limbs swelling severely after being bitten. Knowing this beforehand, I ordered heavy duty bug spray and lotion on Amazon before we left and used that heavily during our time there. After that, I had no issue. But just be sure to cover yourself before visiting Machu Picchu and be especially careful in the surrounding jungles.
Bring your Passport and Stamp It
Outside the gates at Machu Picchu they have a passport stamp that you can stamp in your passport. While it’s not an official passport stamp, it’s a great memory nonetheless!
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