Traveling to Machu Picchu is an opportunity to experience first hand the magic of the Inca's sanctuary. The 15th century citadel has retained many of it's unique architecture and remains one of the most famous destinations in the world. Located 7,970 ft. above sea level, it offered the Inca royalty family a place to rest and relax from the busy life in Cusco (over 11,000 ft above sea level). The journey was typically completed via the famous Inca Trail lasting about 4 days from Cusco. Join us in one of our many options to tour the ruins or hike the Inca Trail during your visit to Peru.
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Machu Picchu Travel Information
Machu Picchu Hours of OperationThe Sanctuary is located at the top of a small mountain next to the town of Aguas Calientes (name of train station).
- The ruins are open every day of the year including holidays and Sundays.
- The ruins are open for tours from 6 am to 5:30 pm
- There are 9 visiting windows to start your tour - every hour starting at 6 am till 2 pm
- Your admission pass allows you to stay inside the sactuary for 4 hours
- Access to the sanctuary is only as part of a 16 people group led by a local tourist professional.
- There is a mini bus service from the village to the entrance of the ruins that runs roundtrip services daily every 15 minutes from 6:00 AM to 5:30 PM.
- Beside the mini-bus, you can also access the entrance of the sanctuary by foot from or to Aguas Calientes (about a 1.5 hour strenuous hike).
- All the available hotels except for the Sanctuary Lodge are located in town.
Weather in Machu PicchuThe best time to visit Peru is between Mary and September. During this period there is no rain and the average temperature is about 62 F degrees during the day. The table below shows the averages for Cusco. April, October and November also tend to be popular as they are months before or after the rainy season (December to March).
Best Season: May to September
In-Between or Shoulder Months: April, October and November Low or Rainy Season: December to March
What To Bring to Machu Picchu
- USD cash (recommended $300 per person)
- Credit and/or debit card
- Trip Itinerary
- Passport (with photocopies)
- Airline tickets (with photocopies)
- Binoculars (light)
- Hiking boots or sturdy comfortable walking shoes (ankle support)
- Fleece top
- Wool hat (or buy one in Cuzco)
- Long pants
- Sun Block
- Money belt
- First-aid kit (Aspirin, Band Aids, anti-histamine, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, re-hydration powder, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)
Inca Trail & Salkantay Tours
In addition to the items mentioned above, you should bring the following:
- Walking sticks or poles with rubber tips (available for rent: $20 approx.)
- Low denomination local currency (1,5,10 soles)
- Rain Poncho
- Gloves (preferably waterproof)
- “Blisters” kit
- Plastic bags for personal items (e.g. Ziplock)
- Anti-inflammatory tablets (e.g. Ibuprofen)
- Thermal or long underwear
- Waterproof and fleece jackets
- Water bottle (will be refilled during the day) and snacks. Also, you will be able to purchase water along the Inca Trail till lunch of day 2.
Altitude while Visiting Machu Picchu and Cusco
Because Cuzco is well above 11,000 feet some passengers traveling from lower elevations may experience symptoms of altitude sickness - known in the Andes as Soroche. This typically results in shortness of breath, nausea and headaches. In most cases the symptoms will gradually lessen and pass as you adjust to the altitude. It’s a good idea to plan to take it easy for the first day. Resting helps as does taking over-the-counter analgesics. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water also seems to lessen symptoms for some. If you have high blood pressure, heart trouble or had issues with altitude sickness in the past please consult your physician before traveling to Cuzco.
Peru’s currency is called: Nuevo Sol. You can exchange money at the airport, banks and hotels. You can also get cash from any ATM machine (located throughout each city).
Banking Hours & ATMs
Banking hours are typically from 9a to 6p Monday thru Friday. ATM machines are located throughout major cities. Our guides will help you if you need assistance.
Cash, Credit Cards & Traveler’s Checks
Major credit cards including American Express, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted at restaurants, hotels and shops in tourist areas. Some merchants may tag on a surcharge of 6% to 10%. We suggest you plan on bringing a credit card for any shopping, unforeseen expenses and emergencies. It’s also a good idea to bring some cash with you in US dollars (~$200 to $300 per person), using smaller denominations ranging from $1s to $20s. Make sure the bills are relatively new. Traveler’s checks are not recommended as they are very hard to exchange.
Tipping & Gratuities
We are often asked what gratuity is appropriate to leave the guides while in Peru. Of course the quality of service should determine the extent of any gratuity. Here is are some per person guidelines (OPTIONAL):
- 10% of the bill at restaurants
- US$1 per bag for bell-boys at hotels
- US$1 per bag to porters at the airport
- Tour Guides: US$5 to US$10 for a full day
- Tour Driver: US$1 to US$3 for a full day
- Transfer Guide: US$1 to US$3
- TransferDriver: US$1
- Inca or Salkantay Trail Guides: +US$50
- Porters: +US$30
Most of the time, airport taxes are included as part of your international or domestic flights.
Electricity in Peru
Throughout Peru the electrical current is 220 volts / 60 cycles (vs. 110 and 120 volts in the USA). Plugs are either the flat blade type used in the U.S. or a two round-pin one. Adapters can be easily purchase near hotels.
Huayna Picchu Hours and Access
Reservations are required. 400 visitors per day are allow to climb Huayna Picchu - two sessions (200 each). From 7a to 8a and the second from 10a to 11a. Allow 1 hour to get to the entrance located at the end of the Sanctuary. Note: This is a strenuous hike that can last from 1.5 to 3 hours.
Spanish is the official language. Also, many people in the Andes speak Quechua, the ancient Inca language. English is spoken at hotels, restaurants and shops. Almost everyone involved in hosting you during your stay speaks English.
Most hotels offer laundry service for a nominal fee provided you are staying long enough to get your clothes washed.
Luggage Storage Fees
Luggage storage will vary slightly from airport to airport. Lima’s fees are about $1.5/suitcase/hour or $10/suitcase/day (subject to change). When traveling to Machu Picchu, it is recommended to leave most of your luggage in Cuzco (it will be safely stored) and bring only what you will need for 1 to 2 nights.
|AUG||30||St. Rosa of Lima|
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Phone Service & Communications
It is not that difficult to call North America from Peru. To make it easier you can check with your long distance company before your trip to see if they can provide you with an access number to use when placing international calls from within Peru. Many companies do and it allows you to use your calling card to pay for calls. Hotel staff and guides will also be happy to assist you to make phone calls.
A few mobile phone companies offer the ability to use your cell phone outside of the USA and Canada. You can also buy a calling card at the airport in Lima.
Cell phone coverage is fairly good through any city. During the Inca Trail, you might have reception during the morning of Day 1, between 1 PM and 3 PM of Day 3 and most of the time on Day 4.
Security and Safety
As with any city, one is advised to take precautions to insure safety and security. Police patrol tourist areas regularly. Even so, you should remain alert to your surroundings and maintain a good grip on your camera and pack if you bring them along. Leave your passport, most of your cash and all but the credit card you plan to use in your hotel lockbox. These are normal precautions for any city you are unfamiliar with. You will find Peru to be a beautiful, friendly and enjoyable place. Your guide will answer any other questions you have regarding security.
Peru is souvenir paradise. You will find great hand-made silver and gold jewelry, leather goods, alpaca and llama rugs, slippers, sweaters, pre-Inca pottery and artifacts. Prices are reasonable. Bargaining is expected. Shopping hours are typically from 9a to 1p and from 3p to 6p, Monday to Saturday.
Stay Healthy Tips
- Wash hands frequently.
- Drink only bottled or boiled water.
- Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes.
- Use bottled water to brush your teeth if possible.
- Eat only thoroughly cooked food.
- Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
- Keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot. (unless your guide says it is ok to do so).
- Don’t eat food purchased from street vendors.
- Don’t drink beverages with ice.
- Don’t eat unpasteurized dairy products.
- Don’t handle animals.
- Use insect repellents with DEET
Time Zones in Peru
Peru is 5 hours behind GMT. Peru does not observe daylight savings. From March 10th to November 3rd Peru is 1 hour behind the US (EST).
Transportation to Machu Picchu
Trains to Machu Picchu
To prevent service interruption or delays due to rains, train services to/from the ruins from January 1st till May 31st begins and ends at Pachar Station (versus Poroy - closer to Cuzco). Transfer from Cuzco to Pachar and back is via tourist class bus. From June 1st till the end of December, trains services are from/to Poroy Station.
- The trains from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes have strict carry-on luggage rules. You can bring a small bag or backpack measuring 62 inches in total (length + width + height) and 11 lbs in maximum weight. Strongly recommended: Please leave as much as you can (suitcases) at your hotel (storage) in Cuzco and only take a small bag / backpack on your journey.
- Return to Cusco after completing the Inca Trail: Travelers are allowed up 50 lbs. in luggage at no charge. Need to present Inca Trail pass before boarding.
- To or from Puno: Same as above for carry-on. Larger luggage will travel in the same train, but in a separate cart.
Nazca Lines Flights Requirements
Original passport must be shown before boarding Nazca Lines planes in Pisco or Nazca airports. No sharp instruments allowed inside the plane.
U.S and Canadian citizens do not require visas if traveling for tourism. Passport expiration date must be at least 6 months away from the date of arrival in Peru.