As the mist lifts off the mountains and over the Inca ruins, Machu Picchu evokes an otherworldly feeling.
It’s one of the world’s most incredible archaeological sites, with a breathtaking location to match. With all that Machu Picchu has to offer, it’s easy to understand why so many are drawn to the visitor heartland of Peru. The ultimate decision is how to get there. Choose a trek or take the train? You could hike through cloud forests along the classic Inca Trail, fulfil your Andes experience on the Quarry Trail or challenge yourself on the Choquequirao trek – it's up to you. We don’t need to tell you why the adventure is worth your while. Our local leaders will keep you safe, informed and inspired at every step of the way.
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Which route is right for you?
Only got one day to spare?
The One Day Inca Trail is a great four-hour trekking option for those wanting to set their sights on Machu Picchu and experience a taste of trekking in Peru, without doing one of the multi-day Classic Inca, Quarry or Choquequirao trails.
Not the hiking type?
On every Intrepid trip that visits Machu Picchu, you can choose the rail journey instead of the hike – simply specify while booking that you’d prefer the train option. There is no extra cost for this, though please note fees may apply if you decide to change to the train option after your Inca Trail permit has already been purchased.
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Machu Picchu is a magnificent reminder of the power and ingenuity of the Inca civilisation. Built in the 15th century, the ancient citadel was abandoned only 100 years later and many mysteries remain. Listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 1983 and announced as one of the Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, Machu Picchu makes a lasting impression.
Overlooking the Urubamba River, the site of Machu Picchu sits above the Sacred Valley – located in the Cusco region of Peru.
Many travellers fly into the capital of Cusco, before taking the train or choosing a hiking tour. The stepping stone to Machu Picchu is Ollantaytambo, which is about 1.5 hours away from Cusco by bus.
From Ollantaytambo the most common ways to get to Machu Picchu are:
· By train
· Hiking the Inca Trail (one way to Machu Picchu)
· Taking the equally scenic and rewarding Quarry Trail
· Trekking the challenging 8-day Choquequirao Trail
So, you want to experience the Inca Trail but aren't quite up for the entire hike? The one-day option takes you by train part of the way where you hop off and trek the trade highway of the ancient Inca empire. You'll arrive at the Sun Gate in the afternoon to take in the views of Machu Picchu.
The good news is Machu Picchu can be visited year-round. The most popular time, and therefore the most crowded, is in June and July. Low cloud cover during the dry season from April to October also means cold nights on hiking trails – so make sure to bring some thermals for a good night’s sleep. The wet season takes place from November to March. This is when the temperature rises and the region receives heavy rainfall. The Inca Trail closes every year in February for trail maintenance.
Technically, yes you can. Starting with an early rise in the morning, take a 1.5 hour bus ride to Ollantaytambo, then a 2.5 hour train to Aguas Calientes, followed by a 30 minute bus to Machu Picchu. You will have a couple of hours to visit Machu Picchu then return to Cusco the same way.
None of our trips visit Machu Picchu this way, as we believe it doesn’t allow enough time to explore (and really enjoy) the site and the Sacred Valley area.
Machu Picchu is found deep in the cloud forest at 2440 m (7972 ft) above sea level, sitting at 1000 m (3280 ft) lower than Cusco. What does this mean for you? In terms of altitude, it means that you are unlikely to experience any altitude issues at Machu Picchu itself. But be aware, trekking to Machu Picchu involves walking up and down a number of steep stairs, ramps and terraces at various altitudes, which can be strenuous.
Most people can start to feel the effects of altitude at over 2000 m (6561 ft) regardless of age, gender or fitness level. While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you make yourself aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.
It’s important to take it easy, drink plenty of water and speak to your group leader at once if you feel unwell.
We recommend seeing your doctor if you have any health concerns before undertaking the trip. Particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition or are take any medication.
For a day trip exploring Machu Picchu, it is recommended to take a small backpack with the essentials: sunscreen, hat, water bottle (filled before departing for the day), a few snacks and mosquito repellent. It helps to wear breathable pants, a long shirt and to bring a waterproof jacket – since the UV index is higher in the Andes and the site is prone to receiving rainfall.
If you plan to trek before visiting Machu Picchu, be sure to read our detailed packing instructions in your Essential Trip Information.
Wayna Picchu (also known also as Huayna Pichu or Wayna Pikchu) means ‘young peak’ in Quechua – although the mountain appears anything but young towering behind Machu Picchu. Known as the ‘stairs of death’, the hair-raising climb takes about three hours return. More recently, a cap of 400 people a day has been introduced on the number of visitors allowed to climb.
We've performed risk assessments on all our optional activities and unfortunately, at this stage, we don’t consider climbing Wayna Picchu a safe activity for our travellers. Reaching Wayna Picchu involves climbing steep, narrow and exposed sets of stairs and we just can’t guarantee the safety of our travellers. Our leaders are specifically prohibited from assisting travellers to visit Wayna Picchu.
There are public toilets located at the main entrance of Machu Picchu and none after entering the site – so make sure you time your stop before heading off to explore. Take some coins with you as there is a small fee to use the toilet facilities.
The Rainforest Alliance is a non-profit organisation working to build strong forests, healthy agricultural landscapes and thriving communities. The green frog seal indicates that an enterprise has been audited to meet standards that require environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Intrepid is recognised by the Rainforest Alliance as one of the top certified tourism business in Peru.
Yes, but of course it will depend on your level of disability, fitness and what support will be available to you. Travellers who are visually impaired have even completed the Inca Trail (with the right support crew of course). Contact us to discuss your particular circumstances and we can assess it from there.
Dan Berlin's Inca Trail journey
When blind athlete Dan Berlin and his three guides decided to run the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in a single day, many people told them it would be impossible. But with the assistance of Intrepid Travel, Dan Berlin made it to the Sun Gate just before the cut-off time to carry on to Machu Picchu, and finished their astonishing achievement in 13 hours. Dan Berlin became the first ever blind athlete to complete the entire 26 miles of the Inca Trail in a single day.
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
How we're giving back
In Machu Picchu, we stay in locally run accommodation including guesthouses, smaller-scale hotels and homestays in an effort to support the local economies. We also visit locally-run restaurants and markets where travellers will have opportunities to support local businesses and purchase handicrafts created by local artisans.
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Combine your trek with a Latin America adventure
Machu Picchu is one of the great treasures of Latin America, but there are jaw-dropping jewels scattered all across this region. Combine your Machu Picchu trek with a land-based itinerary for a truly next-level adventure – the Amazon Jungle, Galapagos Islands and Bolivian salt flats are practically on your doorstep.