The journey leading up to this magical day was a beautiful one. After learning all about Peruvian culture, Incan history, and witnessing the beautiful landscapes along the way, it was time to experience the actual location that brought me here in the first place: Machu Picchu.
WATCH THE VIDEO (and continue reading below):
GETTING TO MACHU PICCHU
Before we even got to Peru, we went online and purchased our train tickets here and our Machu Picchu tickets here. It is imperative you check that Machu Picchu tickets are available BEFORE you buy your plane ticket—the maximum allowance of visitors is restricted to 2500 people per day. As for the train ride to get there, there are several options with different costs to choose from, and we chose the Vistadome train.
Cost of Vistadome Train: $155.00
Cost of Machu Picchu Ticket: $39.00
On the big day, my friends and I hired a driver to take us from the Sacred Valley to the train station in Ollantaytambo. From there, we rode the Vistadome train all the way to Aguas Calientes, the gateway city to Machu Picchu. Once we arrived, we made the mistake of checking into a budget hotel, and I’ll explain exactly why I regret doing that.
Below is a list of mistakes to avoid making when planning your Machu Picchu adventure.
MISTAKES TO AVOID
Don’t Stay Overnight
Unless you bought tickets in advance to do another hike the following day or you just genuinely like being around other travelers, don’t bother staying overnight in Aguas Calientes (where Machu Picchu is). It’s very touristy and your time would be better spent venturing off to a nearby city. If we could do it all over again, we would have instead booked another night in the awesome Sacred Valley Airbnb I wrote about in my last post. We should have just stayed there and made Machu Picchu a daytrip. That way we could have returned to the Sacred Valley afterwards and spent some more time there or in Ollantaytambo.
Don’t Bring More Than Two bags
You are only allowed one big piece of luggage and one small bag on the train. Your biggest piece of luggage will be stowed away and your small piece of luggage will be kept with you at your table. Space is very limited, so be mindful of what you bring.
Don’t Forget to Bring the Essentials
I create a list below of what not to forget when going to Machu Picchu. Add these items to your checklist, because you won’t want to accidentally leave these behind!
WHAT TO BRING TO MACHU PICCHU
You can’t enter Machu Picchu without this—so don’t mistakenly leave it behind in your hotel.
There are a number of different locations in Peru where you can pick up your Machu Picchu tickets.
This will especially come in handy if you’re traveling solo! If you don’t have one—don’t worry. There will probably be someone selling selfie sticks at the train station.
Wide Angle Lens
If you really care about photography, bring a wide angle lens to capture the scope of Machu Picchu. Some phones also shoot in wide angle, so if you’re due for an upgrade, consider choosing one with a wide angle feature.
Reusable Water Bottle
Although not strictly enforced, you are technically not supposed to bring plastic water bottles to Machu Picchu–and for good reason. Annoyingly, I actually saw someone littering.
The weather can be very fickle in this region. Bring a light poncho just in case. I recommend this over an umbrella, because who wants to be walking around Machu Picchu with an umbrella? Keep your hands free. If you forget to pack one, there will be tons of people selling them.
Don’t let that cloudy weather fool you! Wear sunscreen! I forgot to put my sunblock on that morning, and I paid for it later (although I rarely ever get sunburned).
You won’t see them. You won’t feel them. But they’re there. Lurking about. Ready to bite you.
Comfortable Walking Shoes
THE BIG MOMENT
After checking into our cheap hotel (sigh), we walked over to the bus station and bought (yet another) ticket. We had to buy a bus ticket, because once you get to Aguas Calientes, you need to take a bus all the way up to Machu Picchu. This is the one ticket you don’t need to get in advance.
Cost of Bus Ticket: $24.00
After all was said and done, we finally arrived at the famous city in the clouds and it was totally worth all the hassle to get there. I’ve seen dozens of photos and read a ton of blog posts—but nothing compared to actually experiencing this place in person.
I could describe it to you. But I’d rather show you. If you didn’t see the video, make sure you watch it for the full scope of what I experienced!