Machu Picchu is the site of an ancient Inca city, hidden in the Andes of Peru. Located at 2430 meters above sea level, it is often known as “The Lost City of the Incas”. It is one of the most famous and spectacular ruins in the world. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1983, Machu Picchu receives more than one million visitors a year and is one of the 7 New Wonders of the World.
The town of Aguas Calientes (also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo), is the starting point of ascent to Machu Picchu, cannot be reached by car. Machu Picchu is located on a mountain ledge, a thousand meters above the bottom of the valley from below. There is no direct way to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco, it is necessary to use a combination of transportation methods to get there, unless you go on foot all the way. There is a road to Ollantaytambo from Cusco, and a train from there to Aguas Calientes. Machu Picchu is located at the top of the mountain above Aguas Calientes. A road climbs the Aguas Calientes mountain. There is no access road to Aguas Calientes from any of the surrounding villages.
The cheapest one-way ticket from Cusco to Aguas Calientes costs approximately $60usd. It takes about 3.5 hours per 110 km. Adding the return ticket (120 USD) to the entrance ticket price (40 USD approx) for Machu Picchu will make it a very expensive experience, however, a visit to Peru would not be complete without seeing it.
To access the site, you must have a ticket for Machu Picchu – they are available online in advance or at various offices in Cusco. Tickets are NOT sold at the entrance gate and are limited to 2500 per day, with entrance to the Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu mountains further limited to 400 per day. During the peak hours of the year, tickets for these additional items may be sold out weeks in advance.
Huayna Picchu is the highest peak mountain of Machupicchu with Inca structures in the upper part at 2,720 m.a.s.l. The walk takes about 50 minutes uphill to reach the top of the mountain from where the landscape is very impressive, you can see the main square of Machu Picchu about 600 meters down and the Urubamba canyon everywhere. The hike is quite difficult and requires a good level of fitness.
Machu Picchu Mountain is located at the southwest end of Machu Picchu and is a longer, less steep and less crowded hike and also offers great views of Machu Picchu and its surroundings, but it is a longer climb (takes about 1 hour 30 to the top).
To climb one of the mountains you need to buy a permit in combination with your entrance ticket to Machu Picchu. This must be purchased as a supplement to your Machu Picchu ticket at the time of purchase (they cannot be purchased separately from your Machu Picchu ticket so once purchased you cannot add your mountain pass or cancel it).