Machu Picchu is one of the world’s most iconic destinations. This ancient Inca city, located in the heart of the Andes mountains in Peru, has been captivating visitors for centuries with its stunning beauty and fascinating history. While many tourists choose to take a train or hike to Machu Picchu, some wonder if they can drive to this incredible destination. In this article, we will explore the answer to this question and provide you with some helpful tips for visiting Machu Picchu.
What is Machu Picchu?
Before we dive into the logistics of getting to Machu Picchu, let’s take a moment to learn about what makes this place so special. Machu Picchu is an ancient Inca city that was built in the 15th century. It is located high in the Andes Mountains, at an altitude of over 7,000 feet, and is surrounded by towering peaks and lush jungle. The city was abandoned in the 16th century and remained hidden from the outside world until it was rediscovered in 1911 by an American archaeologist named Hiram Bingham.
Today, Machu Picchu is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world, attracting over a million visitors each year. It is known for its stunning architecture, breathtaking views, and fascinating history. The city is made up of a series of temples, plazas, and buildings, all made from stone and perfectly integrated into the natural landscape.
Getting to Machu Picchu
Now that you understand a little bit more about Machu Picchu, let’s discuss the logistics of getting there. While it is possible to drive to the town of Aguas Calientes, which is located at the base of Machu Picchu, it is not possible to drive all the way to the ancient city itself. The road leading up to Aguas Calientes is narrow and winding, with steep drop-offs and hairpin turns. For this reason, it is not recommended to drive in this area, particularly if you are not familiar with the terrain.
The best way to get to Machu Picchu is by train. There are several train companies that operate in the area, including PeruRail and Inca Rail. These trains depart from the cities of Cusco and Ollantaytambo and take you through the stunning Andes mountains and along the Urubamba River to Aguas Calientes. The journey takes around 3-4 hours and is a highlight of any trip to Peru.
Another popular way to get to Machu Picchu is by hiking. There are several hiking trails that lead to the ancient city, including the famous Inca Trail. This trail takes you through stunning landscapes, including Andean highlands, cloud forests, and ancient Inca ruins. The Inca Trail is a challenging hike that takes several days, but it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is worth the effort.
Tips for Visiting Machu Picchu
If you are planning a trip to Machu Picchu, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure that you have the best experience possible. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your visit:
- Book your tickets in advance: Machu Picchu is a popular destination, and tickets can sell out quickly. Be sure to book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.
- Arrive early: Machu Picchu opens at 6:00 am, and it is recommended that you arrive as early as possible to avoid the crowds. The site gets very busy later in the day, so arriving early will give you more time to explore in peace.
- Wear comfortable shoes: Machu Picchu is a large site with a lot of walking involved, so it is important to wear comfortable shoes. The terrain can be uneven and slippery, so choose shoes with good traction and support.
- Bring plenty of water: The altitude can make you feel dehydrated, so it is important to bring plenty of water with you. There are water fountains located throughout the site where you can refill your water bottle.
- Take breaks: Machu Picchu is a large site, and it can be overwhelming to try to see everything at once. Take breaks throughout the day to sit, relax, and take in the stunning views.
- Hire a guide: Hiring a guide is a great way to learn more about the history and significance of Machu Picchu. Guides are available for hire at the entrance to the site.
- Respect the site: Machu Picchu is a sacred place, and it is important to show respect for the site and its history. Follow the rules and guidelines set forth by the site officials, and do not damage or remove any artifacts or structures.
While it is not possible to drive all the way to Machu Picchu, there are plenty of other ways to get to this incredible destination. Whether you choose to take a train, hike, or explore the surrounding area, Machu Picchu is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Peru. With its stunning beauty and fascinating history, it is no wonder that Machu Picchu is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world. By following these tips and respecting the site, you can ensure that you have an unforgettable experience at this ancient Inca city.