The well preserved ruins of Machu Picchu seem to almost cling to the steep hillside, surrounded by towering green mountains overlooking the Vilcanota River Valley. Even after having seen the classic photos of Machu Picchu in guide books & web sites you still cannot fail but to be impressed by the awe-inspiring location of the ruins.
When you read about its discovery and the unsolved mystery of its purpose and how it came to become ‘lost to the world’ you will realize why so many people make the pilgrimage to visit this fascinating and spiritual site.
With the right information, getting to Machu Picchu shouldn’t be as much a mystery as the place itself. You can either book all the components of the trip yourself or you can buy a ready made package tour from one of hundreds of tour operators offering this service. However as Machu Picchu becomes more and more popular it is important to try and make your arrangements as far in advance as you can. During the peak season (June, July & August) there were several weeks last year when the entrance tickets to Machu Picchu sold out more than a week in advance and many visitors who arrived thinking they could buy tickets on the door were turned away and never got to see Machu Picchu. Imagine after spending so much money on your airfares and travelling half way across the world only to be turned away at the door to Machu Picchu because all the tickets had sold out !! Luckily, after reading this, that won’t happen to you.
In order to plan your trip to Machu Picchu you have to understand a little bit about the geography of the area. Machu Picchu lay hidden from the world for such a long time because its location is fairly remote and inaccessible. Machu Picchu is located high up on a mountainside covered in dense vegetation overlooking the Vilcanota River. Nowadays a very steep and narrow zigzagging dirt track connects Machu Picchu with the nearest village of Aguas Calientes (Aguas Calientes literally means “Hot Waters” in Spanish and is so named because of the thermals baths that can be found there). Regular buses run the route between Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu approximately every 15 minutes between 5:30am and 6pm. The 6km journey takes about 25 minutes.