How and when to go to Machu Picchu?
A Machu Picchu visit involves visiting the Inca’s legendary lost citadel, located a few hundred miles from the city of Cusco (or Cuzco, as some like to call it) in Peru. The site is such an impressive feat of Inca architecture that it was voted as one of UNESCO’s New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.
Built on top of a jagged mountain ridge and flanked by a steep mixture of jungle and rock, some suggest that Macchu Picchu could have only been built with the help of aliens. Mt Machu Picchu rises like a skyscraper from the Vilcanota River, with the ancient city so magnificently placed that it has rightfully earned a place in so many bucket lists.
When to visit
This 2020 pandemic might have postponed your dream Machu Picchu holiday, but with Peru already well past the worst of the pandemic, the ‘lost citadel’ has been re-opened for some time now under strict bio-security measures, soon might be the best time in a lifetime to experience Machu Picchu and its grazing Alpacas all to yourself.
There is no such thing as best month to visit Machu Picchu. Showers and mist are more likely during the ‘rainy’ season from December to March, with the advantage of smaller crowds and warmer temperatures. The ‘dry’ season from May to September is the opposite and coincides with the ‘high’ season, with sunnier days but crisper nights at the expense of overcrowding in Machu Picchu and throughout the Cusco region.
How to get there
In any case, there are daily international flights from the US and Europe into Lima (the capital of Peru), and daily connecting domestic flights to Cusco. From the Incan capital (which is also a must see!), there are infinite ways to get to Machu Picchu.
From independent, multi-day treks across high mountain passes and jungle trails for the intrepid, to luxurious, fully-organized train services for those looking for comfort, there is a Machu Picchu experience for everyone.
The important thing to take away is that no matter how you want to get to Machu Picchu, you must visit Aguas Calientes (Spanish for ‘warm waters’), which is the only town in the vicinity of this Incan marvel, and thus the only place to find food, shelter and a drink. Named after its hot springs, Aguas Calientes is the home of our exclusive Casa del Sol Boutique Hotel. From the town, an expensive bus ride or a one hour, steep trek can take you to the ruins.
Trekking to Machu Picchu
For the most adventurous, the multi-day Lares, Choquequirao or Salkantay treks can be done independently (trekking experience required) or with guided tours. The latter tend to provide all the necessary equipment, transfers, hot meals at the campsite every evening, porters to carry most of your stuff and more.
All of the hikes (except for Lares) finish at a hydroelectric dam where a 15 minute train service is available to Aguas Calientes. For those still thirsty for adventure, hiking the 12km train line is also possible, but must be done at your own risk as its not an officially recognized route.
For those wanting to enter Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate (Intipunku), like the original Inca emperor once did, you must be prepared to hike the 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu from the Sacred Valley. The difference with the other treks being that a guided tour is required and there are limited spaces per day. Luxury tents, portable hot showers and a team of local cooks providing well-earned local delicacies are common in this route.
Taking the Train to Machu Picchu:
For those preferring to immerse in Andean culture in comfort and style, frequent train services to Aguas Calientes are available from Cusco and Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. PeruRail's tourist train is by no means the cheaper option but definitely the more classy, with a variety of luxury coaches offering 360º views of the dramatic scenery accompanied by local food dégustations and delicate Pisco Sours.
Casa del Sol, Aguas Calientes
No matter what kind of traveller you are, Casa del Sol can provide you with a calm and safe haven within the bustling Aguas Calientes, as well as an opportunity to unwind and experience Machu Picchu in a unique way. Experiences range from Private tours of the citadel to shaman-led vow renewals, we cater for all. Our bartenders offer Pisco Sour Classes in our exclusive river-side bar while our chefs and masseurs can make you indulge in a relaxation banquet.
Casa del Sol outdoor terrace next to the Vilcanota River