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Top Trip Memories
  • Trekking the legendary Inca trail, an original trading road used by the Incan Empire itself and a rite of passage for travelers for well over a century.
  • Taking in the classic Machu Picchu vista for the first time at sunrise as mist slowly reveals dramatic cliffs, soaring mountains, and the ruins themselves.
  • Climbing up either Huayna Picchu or Montaña de Machu Picchu for a challenge that is rewarded by towering views over the ruins below.
  • Exploring Cusco, the former imperial capital of the Incans and today home to beautiful religious art and vibrant night life.
  • Dropping by some of the less visited but equally impressive sights of the Sacred Valley, such as the old salt mines of Maras or the other-worldy ancient circles of Moray.
  • Enjoying a rest in Ollantaytambo where you can experience a beautiful colonial square hemmed in by quaint alleys below and massive Incan ruins on every mountain top above.
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Tour Tips
  • Book your tour well in advance! Machu Picchu tickets sell out days, weeks, and even months ahead, especially for spots hiking the highly coveted Incan trail. Booking early can ensure that your trip will go smoothly and you will get to see everything you want to during this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
  • Take a tour to truly understand the history of some of the more incredible monuments, but also leave some time to explore the ruins for yourself and connect with the “apus” or spirits of the mountain.
  • Bring altitude medicine and don’t forget to acclimate. You may be at the highest altitudes of your life and a journey plagued by altitude sickness is not ideal.
  • Bring layers at all times, the Peruvian Andes can sometimes require a jacket and at other times you may simmer in tropical heat. 
  • Avoid the rainy season of January and February but also consider avoiding the high tourist months of June through August. Often, trips in April, May, September, and October lead to the best weather with fewer crowds

During your tour...

  • Arrive at Machu Picchu early. You will beat the tourist rush that hits between 10am and 3pm. Also, the sunrise over Machu Picchu is not to be missed.
  • Certain food is not allowed inside. Eat a big breakfast and take a lunch break outside of the ruins before returning for more exploration.
  • Don’t forget to take a photo of yourself in the “classic postcard view” to be found just beside the Guardian’s hut.
  • With all of the trekking, hiking, and sightseeing options, it is easy to try to take on too much. The altitude and weather will make your trip challenging enough. Try to relax and take the experience slowly. This will allow you to enjoy yourself as well as appreciate the mystical setting of Machu Picchu. 
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Machu Picchu Travel Reviews & Ratings
4.8 out of 5

100%

recommend

5,702 Reviews

Excellent 4,324 Great 1,362 Average 12 Disappointing 2 Terrible 1

Rating Details

Value
4.8 Guide
4.8 Activities
4.8 Lodging
4.8 Transportation
4.8 Meals
4.8
Tour Reviews

Best trip of our life!

Peru Adventure Tour

5.0 June 2017 Kuoda Travel Recommend: Yes This was our first time using a travel company and they set the bar really high! Every single thing was taken care of for us including (but not limited to) hotels, transportation, food, guides, drivers, pictures and on and on. We are so appreciative of the amazing care they showed us, and would recommend them as highly as possible. You will not be disappointed! They not only arranged all of these experiences but on our departure from Cusco, the owner Meri, came to meet us in person. If you are looking to travel in Peru, do not hesitate to use Kuoda Travel. Read more

Perfect trip to Peru & Machu Picchu

Peru Adventure Tour

5.0 June 2017 Kuoda Travel Recommend: Yes This letter is long overdue as both Kris & I need to thank you and the Kuoda team for such a wonderful experience in Peru. We sincerely appreciate you taking time out of your day to meet us at the airport and we enjoyed our time spent with the extended team at Kuoda.
Foremost I must say that I was a little reluctant to participate in a guided tour of Machu Picchu and the surrounding areas in Peru. My wife and I were splurging on this trip for our 10 year wedding anniversary and it was worth every penny. Neither of us had been to Peru before nor do we speak Spanish and your team provided excellent guidance along the way to navigate the flights, day trips and help us better understand Peruvian culture and history. We very much appreciated having your team available either in person or over the phone for when we had questions about our trip (great example was our hiking permits for day two in Machu Picchu and your team getting back to us immediately at our hotel).
We owe a special thanks to Jenny for dialing in the perfectly planned trip for us. She worked closely with Kris to tailor the hiking that we enjoy and nailed it with the Huchuy Cusco hike.

The restaurant recommendations were amazing and we loved the food and atmosphere of each unique place particularly those around Cusco. We were able to see so much of Peru & Machu Picchu in a short time period and our trip wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable without her expert planning.
I also cannot say enough good things about Eyner and the quality time we spent with him at Machu Picchu, Cusco and throughout our journey. It’s apparent on meeting him that he’s passionate about Quechua culture and eager to share its history. He was extremely patient with answering our many and frequent questions. Eyner navigated us through the crowds in the sacred valley, Machu Picchu and Cusco and we sincerely appreciated hearing is personal experiences and perspectives at each unique location.

He was also deft at adjusting the trip on the fly and connected us with a local silversmith in Cusco, much to Kris’ joy. The long day hike up Huchuy Cusco was extremely special and we are thankful for this unique trip with Eyner. Kuoda is very fortunate to have him as a member of the team.

Again a huge muchas gracias to you and the Kuoda team for exceeding our expectations and delivering on the perfect anniversary trip to Peru & Machu Picchu. We have such fond memories that will last a lifetime and we look forward to our next adventure with your team.
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Ann Fisher

Essential Peru

3.0 May 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes I knew about the long coach journeys and early starts - but I did find the travel more tiring than I expected .
Flying over the Nazca Lines was amazing
Also going to the floating reed islands on lake Titicaca and watching The Condors flying in the Colca Canyon

Diana was an excellent tour leader- first aider, kitchen assistant - she did everything she could to make the trip go smoothly

Really think if the really long and frequent travel days are right for you

Despite the long travel days, this was an interesting and varied trip

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Amazing Gringo Adventure

Essential Peru

5.0 May 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes Utterly eyeball blowing. So much to see you do not want to miss a thing The scenery is stunning. I did not realise Peru was so diverse. From massive sand dunes and dry desert to impenetrable cloud forest. Yes there were long drives and really early starts but how else can you experience the variety of sights and activities.
Obviously Machu Picchu does not disappoint and the island stay is enlightening but sand boarding was so fun and I was impressed by the Nazca lines.

Aleks was great. He loves his country is knowledgeable and took really great care of us. We ate every evening as a group being taken to different restaurants.It makes the whole experience enriching.

Do the optional excursions such as sand buggies, sacred valley and star gazing. We opted not to fly over Nazca lines as view from tower was good and I was worried about air sickness but those who did it loved it.The high altitude does slow you down so be prepared for taking longer to get anywhere. The sungate walk is a must at Machu Picchu and stay til chucking out time as you have the site to yourself. Meals were cheaper than I expected so we did not spend as much as I had budgeted for,which was great. It was cold in Cusco and on Lake Titicaca especially at night so warm clothes needed. Trip notes are accurate so take their advice.

Just enjoy. After this trip you can say you have seen the best and most of Peru.

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Touring Peru

Essential Peru

5.0 May 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes Never a dull day, so much to see. Even on the chill out days we took on the optional tours just to maximize the experience. It's a great place and the areas are so diverse from the coast, desert, mountains to the cloud forest.
There were lots of them but the build up was all about summiting with Macchu Picchu, initially disappointing, too many people, too many clouds totally obscuring the view and it rained. That was the morning in the afternoon the crowds cleared out, the skies also cleared so we had sunshine and Macchu Picchu to ourselves, well almost, it certainly felt like that.

Aleks was a great guide, he kept everything on track, what more do you need from a guide?

Before taking Essential Peru on please consider the following:
- It is no holiday, early starts, different location every night and loads of places to visit really mean there is little rest time.
- It's a very big country which means many miles to cover which clearly means you will spend a lot of hours on the bus
- Much of the trip is at altitudes most of us do not regularly experience, you maybe fit and will no doubt acclimatize but nonetheless any exertion will be hard work, so bear that in mind.
- When the sun comes out it is fierce so make sure you have plenty of lotion.
- The ATMs generally work but we found a lot of them to have a S400 limit which only equates to £100. You can change up Sterling but US dollars are the preferred currency.

The food is good and the Pisco Sours are tasty. It's also cheaper than we expected, we actually overbudgeted by about £500.

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Classic Itineraries

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Perhaps the most classic Machu Picchu trip, walking the Inca Trail is a bucket list item for many. This is a challenging trip, but the reward is well worth the effort. Most Inca Trail treks take 4-5 days, though this varies.

Day 1-2, Cusco: Explore Cusco and get acclimated to the altitude. Visit cultural sites and museums to learn about the Inca before visiting Machu Picchu.

Day 3-8, Inca Trail: Embark upon the Inca trail.

Day 9-10, Machu Picchu: Arrive at the picturesque Sun Gate before the first wave of crowds. Take an in depth guided tour of the ruins, and spend free time exploring on your own. Climb the challenging Huayna Picchu for iconic pictures.

See All Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Tours

Historical Machu Picchu

One of the biggest draws of Machu Picchu is its historical significance. Most tours will touch on this, but some dive deeper than others into the archaeological history and cultural history of the incredible site.

Day 1-3, Cusco: Explore Cusco and get acclimated to the altitude. Visit cultural sites and museums to learn about the Inca before visiting Machu Picchu.

Day 4, Agua Calientes: Take the famous Scenic train ride to Agua Calientes. Spend the night and prepare to rise early to catch the dawn bus to Machu Picchu.

Day 5-6, Machu Picchu: Take an in depth guided tour of the ruins, and spend free time exploring on your own. Climb the challenging Huayna Picchu for iconic pictures.

Day 7, Ollantaytambo: On your way back to Cusco, stop in Ollantaytambo another historically significant Inca site.

Day 8, Lima: Depart from Lima

OR

Day 2-6, Official Treks: Strike out upon one of three treks, Lares, Salkantay, or Inca, on your way to the site.

Or see All Machu Picchu History Tours

Machu Picchu and the Galapagos

Many tour companies combine a trip to Machu Picchu with a tour of the Galapagos. Typically these tours range anywhere from two weeks to a full month.

Day 1-2, Cusco: Take time to adjust to the altitude. Visit Plaza de Armas, and explore the Old Inca Capital.

Day 2-3, Agua Calientes: Take the famous VistaDome scenic train ride to Agua Calientes. Along the way stop in Pisac to visit the market. Continue to Ollantaytambo for a tour of more Incan ruins before arriving in Agua Calientes. Spend the night and prepare to rise early to catch the dawn bus to Machu Picchu.

Day 4-5, Machu Picchu: Take an in depth guided tour of the ruins, and spend free time exploring on your own. Optional: climb the challenging Huayna Picchu for iconic pictures.

Day 6-7, Cusco to Lima: Return to Cusco and take a short flight to Lima - the jumping off point for your Galapagos cruise. Take a walking history tour of the city: San Francisco Church, Plaza de Armas, Government Palace.

Day 8, Quito: Leave Peru for Ecuador and head to Quito. Explore the city and see La Compania. Take a drive to the Equatorial Line Monument, where you can straddle the hemispheres.

Day 9-13, Galapagos Cruise: Enjoy a cruise of the Galapagos islands. Take in the history of Darwin’s time on the islands, which led to his groundbreaking evolution theories. Get up close and personal with the incredible and diverse wildlife, and learn about the delicate ecology on the islands from an expert.

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Machu Picchu Trips & Tour Advice

The ruins of Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas, occupy one of the most dramatic sites of any archaeological find in the world. Dating from the 15th century and perched high up in the Peruvian Andes at the end of the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu features the ruins of stone-walled Inca temples, tombs and palaces in a jungle setting. Steep mountains form an unforgettable backdrop. You can take a guided trek to Machu Picchu along the Inca Trail or, for those on a less strenuous tour of Peru, get there by train.   

Your first moment of seeing Machu Picchu can easily be a highlight of a lifetime of travel. Taking in the perilous peaks and the beautiful silvery stones that make up the legendary lost Incan outpost high in the Andes merits few equals in any other destination experience. For many, Machu Picchu is a rite of passage.

However, getting to that moment is a process that can either be just as epic or stressful and exhausting. Let Stride guide you towards the best tour operators to ensure that your journey to one of the world’s most famous archaeological ruins is smooth and memorable.

Cusco, the Starting Point

The first port of call is Cusco. Cusco was the capital of the vast Incan empire and is replete with both ancient Incan temples and exquisite colonial churches. Boasting a dizzying mix of Catholic religious festivals, ancient Incan annual rituals, and popular music parades, Cusco’s calendar is always packed with exciting cultural experiences.

Cuzco also has its fair share of four-star hotels as well as budget accommodations, and is nestled in a beautiful landscape making it the perfect location in which to pass the time.

At 11k feet above sea level, (while Machu Picchu is at a mere 8K), Cusco is a crucial stop for adjusting to the altitude. The last thing you want is to suffer from altitude sickness during your journey to Machu Picchu! Take it easy, drink lots of water, and let your body get used to the thin Andean air.

Staying in Cusco is also helpful for providing an initial context to your journey and the characters involved. It’s the perfect introduction to Peru, and the many forces that contributed to the culture and diversity here. Including the food, language, architecture, and art - Cusco is the gateway to another time. The present day locals live concurrent with their ancestors, keeping many traditions and customs alive. Cusco is where you prepare to enter a different world.

During your free time in Cusco, be sure to pick up any last minute essentials for your journey. Depending on the time of year, it could be quite chilly, and even more so once you reach the ruins. The sun is often shrouded in mist and fog before 10am at Machu Picchu, and though you’ll be scrambling up and down ancient stairways as you explore, it will still be damp. Luckily Cusco is full of shops where you can purchase the famous alpaca wool hats, gloves, or ponchos.

On the outskirts of the city, Sacsayhuaman stands strong as the former fortress defending the Incan imperial capital and is the perfect destination for your first glimpse at the impressively large and exquisitely carved stones that make Incan architecture so famous. Returning to the city, one can appreciate some of the most beautiful colonial architecture in all of South America. Some churches, like Qoricancha, are built on top of and incorporated within Incan ruins. The cathedral, Santa Catalina monastery, San Blas, and countless other colonial gems complete the beauty of a town where religious art is so beautiful, it inspired an entire Cusquena artistic school and movement. 

Cusco even has a modern side. Going with a good tour operator can help ensure you see the most recent additions to Cusco’s ever-changing heritage: museums dedicate to chocolate and Pisco, resorts, spas, and even a vibrant nightlife.

There are many ways to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco. If you’re taking the train (of which there are three choices, of different budget levels) it leaves right from Poroy Station, about 20 minutes from downtown Cusco. This service is regular between May and December, but may be irregular during off season months when mudslides or heavy rain cause safety concerns.

If you are planning to reach Machu Picchu on one of the three main treks, you’ll take a bus or shuttle from Cusco to your starting point. On your way, you’ll pass through the Sacred Valley, location of Ollantaytambo, where you might stop for a night depending on your tour itinerary.

Getting to Machu Picchu is Half the Experience

Machu Picchu is much more than just Machu Picchu. A journey to the sacred Incan fortress is reached by first traveling through the Sacred Valley. On the way to Machu Picchu, you will pass Pisaq, where Incan terraces cascade gracefully down from the ancient trading post. Later, you will find yourself passing the fascinating, and beautiful, salt mines of Maras or entering the sacred, but eerie, endless concentric circles of Moray.

Finally, a Sacred Valley tour is not complete without visiting Ollantaytambo, a beautiful town in its own right, with a beautiful colonial core and a dramatic fortress climbing up on every mountain above the quaint alleys below.

There are many ways you can get to Machu Picchu. One of the most popular routes is still the Inca Trail, which, while difficult, is manageable for most able bodied and relatively fit travelers. The trail takes 4 to 5 days to complete and you’ll be surrounded by spectacular scenery and history, brought to life by your guide the entire way.

If you’re planning to hike the Inca Trail, be sure you purchase your permit into the park well ahead of time. They sell out extremely fast, and a limited number of people (500) are permitted on the trail per day. This includes porters and guides. Six months in advance is a good bet to ensure yourself a spot. It is also worth noting that you cannot hike the trail without a guide. Most large tour companies offer a Machu Picchu trek, so you have a lot of choice. Use Stride’s filtering tools to find the right tour size for you.

However, travelers are beginning to discover the other ways you can hike to Machu Picchu, which include the Lares Trek and Salkantay Trek. The Lares Treks is comparable, difficulty wise to the Inca Trail, but Salkantay is quite a bit more challenging, both in length and type.  

If you’re not hiking, you will take one of three rail journeys from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. There are different price points, but if you’re willing to splurge, the Belmond Hiram Bingham train is well worth the price. Drift through the Sacred Valley in luxury, while gazing out at the historic landscape through large viewing windows.

Aguas Calientes is the main hub for travelers going to Machu Picchu, about 15 minutes away from the site by bus. It is a good idea to stay in Aguas Calientes for a few days. Let yourself relax and not worry about seeing all of Machu Picchu in one fell swoop.

Use one day to catch the first bus after waiting in line at 4am to see the sunrise, but use your second day to go later. If you have time, don’t pass up a visit to the hot springs (Aguas Calientes literally translates to “hot water”).

Arriving at Machu Picchu

Unless you took the Incan trail the whole way there, you will have your chance to warm up in the hot springs of Agua Calientes in preparation for your exciting day, or days, in Machu Picchu.

Arriving early, you can catch the ancient mist disappearing to reveal the beautiful stones that make up one of the world’s most dramatic set of ruins. With your tour guide, you will learn about many of the secrets in those stones: an ancient sun dial, a temple designed to resemble a condor, and the temple of the sun, which boasts perhaps the most impressive ancient stonework in the Western Hemisphere.

After your guided tour, you may opt to go for a hike. Popular options include the sun gate, which is actually the end point of the Incan trail, or climbing up Huayna Picchu, a tough climb that is rewarded with its own set of ruins that tower over Machu Picchu and provide new captivating angles to photograph the fortress below.

For those desiring to focus on the ruins themselves, simply meandering its ancient streets will provide hours of captivating discoveries and mysterious wonders found in the meticulously cut stones that surround you.

More Than Just a Destination

A trip to Machu Picchu is never just a trip to Machu Picchu. Rather, it is a journey that can and should include colonial towns, religious art, ancient ruins, Andean treks, and breathtaking vistas. Traveling along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of the more daunting but rewarding experiences in all of travel, so it is best to plan well to ensure a fulfilling trip. See our comprehensive guide of Machu Picchu planning tips article for help getting started! 

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