My travel bucket-list: Machu Picchu, Peru

I love to travel and I would love to be a tourist forever. Like Hans Christian Andersen said “To Travel is to Live”.

Every new city, every new trip, is a new experience. Our life is made from experiences. We may forget a lot of things in this life but our experiences are difficult to not remember.

My Sunday’s post is usually one of my experiences, one of my trips. Looking back at my travel pictures, I have realised I’ve finished my trips 😳 Oh dear….this is not good.

I think is time to plan a new trip but 2019 is probably a changing year for us. After more than 6 years living in Singapore, maybe is time to move on. Our employment pass is expiring at the end of this year and probably will not be able to renew it because currently the government is reducing the influx of foreigners. Our contract for the rental of the apartment is expiring in one month time and we’re not sure can be renewed since our employment passes are expiring.

Life is not always easy, it has its ups and downs, but important is to stay positive, keep dreaming and move on. Even if after so many years, Singapore became my comfort zone, one thing is sure: I’m ready to move on as I’m ready to stay. Freedom is the key.

Until the situation will be clearer and we will see what will happen, I’ve started to plan my travel bucket-list 😊 Of course that wherever I’ll be in the world, I’ll keep traveling ✈️ Actually I think my life could easily fit in one suitcase 💕

One of the places from my bucket-list is Machu Picchu in Peru, the most familiar icon of Inca civilisation. Built in the 15th century and later abandoned, Machu Picchu is renowned for its sophisticated dry-stone walls that fuse huge blocks without the use of mortar, technique called ashlar, intriguing buildings that play on astronomical alignments, like the sacred Intihuatana stone that indicates the two equinoxes and twice per year, the sun sits directly over the stone creating no shadow, and to not mention the panoramic views. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was constructed as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti but its exact former use still remains a mystery.

After some research I can say that Machu Pitchu is not an easy place to travel, from the difficulty of reaching it, located at an altitude of 7,972 feet (2,430m) above sea level, you also need to get acclimated. 

No matter how physically fit you are, acute mountain altitude sickness like headache, fatigue and nausea, typically occurs at heights of 8,000 feet (2,500m) and above. 

To reduce the risk of getting altitude sickness, the best thing to do before traveling around Cusco or Machu Picchu is spending the extra time allowing your body to acclimate to the new altitude before any serious sightseeing. When you are at higher altitudes, the air pressure drops, and there is less oxygen available.

When arriving in Cusco, specially flying in directly from Lima, should try to stay there at least 24 hours to acclimate to the new altitude, during which time should take things easy.

The Sacred Valley surrounding Machu Picchu is home to a number of fascinating ruins, small towns and sights and definitely deserves to pay a visit. Can plan a Sacred Valley day tour from Cusco or Ollantaytambo, including stops at the Pisac traditional market and Pisac ruins; the Ollantaytambo village and Inca ruins; the Moray ruins and the Salineras salt mines.

Lima is located at sea level, so flying directly from Lima to Cusco involves a significant altitude increase in a short time, giving your body no chance to adapt during the journey.

If you take a bus from Lima to Cusco, which is about 22 hours, your body will have a more gradual period of adjustment, and you should be able to handle the altitude in Cusco once you arrive there. 

Once you have acclimated properly in Cusco or in the Sacred Valley, you should have no serious problems with the altitude at Machu Picchu itself. You may still feel breathless while walking around the site, but the risk of altitude sickness will be minimal.

Physically you need to be in good shape but I think all the efforts are worth it. The site is one of the most famous and spectacular sets of ruins in the world. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983, Machu Picchu receives over one million visitors per year and is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

Machu Picchu is open year-round with October through April the official rainy season, but it can rain at any time. Peak season begins in late May and lasts through August, with July and August being the driest months but with such a wonder you should always expect crowds.

The ruins can be unpleasantly crowded with travelers visiting on a day tour from Cusco or Ollantaytambo, specially during peak season. These tours generally crowd the ruins between 10 am and 2 pm. The site is open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the best way to enjoy some quiet time exploring the ruins is to stay in Aguas Calientes, so you’ll have the option to arrive well before the influx of tourists and stay well after they depart. 

The access point to Machu Picchu is the town of Aguas Calientes (also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo). This little town has no road access from any surrounding towns, so cannot be reached by car. It is necessary to use a combination of transport methods including train, car, or walking. Once there, Machu Picchu lies at the top of the mountain above Aguas Calientes.

You can choose between a hike up or a bus to Machu Picchu. Thousands of people hike to Machu Picchu each year. The most famous way to hike to Machu Picchu is along a section of one of the hundreds of Incan roads built as the empire expanded. Dozens of tour operators offer Inca Trail hikes to Machu Picchu, with varying durations and levels of comfort (though all require camping). 

If you’re feeling fit and eager to take on the challenge, the 4-day/3-night Inca Trail hike to the ruins is by far the most memorable way to reach Machu Picchu. Of course, it is also the most challenging way to visit the site but we are here for a challenge right? Remember that it is prohibited to hike independently along the Inca Trail and you must travel with a sanctioned group or tour agency. Need to book the hiking trip well in advance of your travels to Peru, as these tours sell out months in advance.

Note that because of erosion, only 500 people are allowed on the Inca Trail each day and is closed for the entire month of February every year for maintenance. 

For travelers who prefer a less difficult route to the ruins, your best option is to take a train from Cusco or Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes.

Three train operators run trips to Aguas Calientes: Perurail, Inca Rail and the Machu Picchu Train. The most popular trains are via Perurail which offers 3 levels of service: the Backpacker, the upscale Vistadome and the ultra-luxe Hiram Bingham train. Hmmm this is interesting. 

Once you’ve arrived in Aguas Calientes, specially sanctioned buses run regularly, every 15 to 20 minutes to the ruins. The bus stop is a 5-minute walk from the train station.

For those who would like a less crowded experience, or are looking to see and experience other aspects of Peru on their way to Machu Picchu, there are a number of diverse hiking alternatives: the second most popular way to hike to Machu Picchu is around massive Salkantay Mountain, one of the most imposing peaks in the Peruvian Andes at 20,569 feet (6,270m). Mount Salkantay is the 2nd largest mountain in the entire Cusco area (2nd only to Ausangate) and is said to be the “guardian” that stands between the mountains and the jungle. Crossing over a pass between the peaks of the immense mountains, Salkantay 20,569 feet (6,270m) and Humantay 19,915 feet (6,070m), you will get to see some spectacular views of the glacier and the sprawling valleys that they stand over.

The Inca Jungle Tour (also known as Tropical Inca Trail) combines hiking, biking, rafting and zip-lining on your way to Machu Picchu. 

To access the site, you must have a ticket for Machu Picchu – which are available online in advance or from various ticket offices in Cusco. Machu Picchu tickets are NOT sold at the entrance gate and are limited to 2500 per day, with entrance to Huayna Picchu and Montaña Machu Picchu each being further limited to 400 per day. During peak times of the year, tickets for these additional elements can sell out weeks in advance.

The highest peaked mountain of Machu Picchu is Huayna Picchu, with Inca structures on the top at 8,924 feet (2,720m). The hike takes about 50 minutes to reach the top of the mountain. The scenery from the summit is unreal, you can see the main square of Machu Picchu about 600 meters down and the Urubamba canyon all around. The hike is tough and a decent level of fitness is required but I bet once you reach it you’ll feel on top of the world. 

The ruins are best explored with a guide, so you can be sure to see and learn about some of the site’s more fascinating highlights, including the Temple of the Sun, Temple of the Three Windows, Temple of the Condor, the Sun Gate and the Intihuatana rock. Remember that much of the history and purpose of Machu Picchu remains a mystery to historians, and quality guides will be sure to make that clear, rather than selling you definitive and potentially false information.

Usually we travel by ourselves but in this case I think is better to go with a travel agency 😊 Too many things to see that I don’t want to miss. See you soon Machu Picchu 😊

Machu Picchu1
Photo credit and research: Google

71 thoughts

      1. You sound just like me…when we lost everything in Greece due to the crisis, that is exactly what I said “Let’s see where life will take us”:)

  1. Machu Picchu is doubtlessly an amazing experience and I would recommend spending some time in the area around before getting to the site itself, at least to minimise the risks of altitude sickness. Getting there by train is a very good option.

  2. Oh wow, this is a great place! I really wish I can be a tourist forever! It’s really bad we have one of the worst passports in the world and economical situation haha

    I wish you the best of luck after your Singapore journey, it’s certainly an opportunity to another adventure 🙂 I mean you have 7,972 feet to climb hahah
    Machu Picchu looks amazing, the information you shared are very useful and helpful! And hope you will visit and enjoy, I also recommend you visit through agency, such place needs to be well discovered and well planned as well
    Best of luck always 🙂

    1. Thank you very much Huguetta! Very appreciated! It is a little bit tricky also for myself to get the visas but is well worth it 😊 Currently I’m trying to get Italian citizenship and if I get it I’ll be able to travel more easily 😉 We don’t know anything yet but we are open to everything ☺️ We will see where life will take us and we’ll try to enjoy it. 😊 Doing the research for this post I really learned a lot of new things that I did not know about Machu Picchu 😉 Definitely will plan it through an agency. It must be well planned 😉 Thank you again for your support and advices 💕 Wish you a wonderful week! 🤗

      1. Oh Ribana, Italian Citizenship, you’re teasing me in the morning hahaa my dream is to visit Italy actually 🙂 That’s great! Best of luck then and hope life will take you to beautiful places and more adventures
        My pleasure always and wish you a great day as well <3

  3. Well this is a wonderful post, mostly because I just got back from MP! It’s been a bucket list destination for years, and we finally made it there. We had no issues there regarding the altitude, nor in Cusco, where we stayed. I think it’s some kind of weird scare tactic. The only people not feeling well were the ones who took medicine for preventative altitude sickness and had bad reactions to it. I hope you get to go. It is definitely a surreal experience!

  4. I love your way of thinking, your attitude towards life,your style of writing. You’re inspiring !!!
    Keep blogging, keep traveling & I send prayers & blessings in your future. I know You will prosper & grow wherever you are planted. Much love sent.

  5. I love to travel as well and have been to 15 countries. However, my trips are around Europe, Asia, and Africa. However, Manchu Picchu sounds great. The name alone would make you want to go explore its horizons.

  6. Nice blog post, especially enjoyed the explanation on its history!

    Machu Picchu is really crowded and touristy nowadays (I was there 2 months ago), but sort of a must-see in Peru. The train ticket tends to be a bit pricey but luckily there are alternative ways to get there. This post explains it quite well:

    Have a good trip on your next holiday!

    Greetings from Peru

  7. I’ve never really thought much about this travel destination, but now you’ve got my attention. New addition to the bucket list.

  8. This is a trip we did several years ago and a place we will never forget. Absolutely incredible. Altitude takes time to adjust. But worth the risk.

      1. Not sure if you’ve read my separate post on Machu Picchu, let me know if you need the link…
        Hope you do visit this very special destination. 🙂

  9. Machu Pichu looks amazing and the same is your description.
    If the trip is yet to begin, I wish you a happy and safe journey and if it has ended, I hope it was a good and adventurous one.

    1. Yes, I believe is one of the must see places 😊 It is one of travel bucket list destinations and one day I hope I’ll be able to see it 😉😊 Thank you for stopping by 🌸🌸 Have a wonderful Sunday 🌸🌸

  10. This is also on my list. I added it 38 years ago after watching the VHS special on the Urubamba River where they started at the headwaters and followed it to the mouth. I fell in love at the age of 9.

    1. Wow, it is on my bucket list too for quite a long time now 😊 I hope one day we’ll be able to see it 😉🌸 I think is a must see place at least once in a lifetime 😉

      1. I just want to get some in Inca gold out of that river and get up close and personal to one of the greatest cities ever built.

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