There are 2 ways to reach Machu Picchu: (1) One is by taking the Inca Trail, 4 days of trekking, hiking. crossing mountains and camping in the wilderness with a group of tourist and expert guides. Book in advance. When we checked 3 months before, it was already fully booked. or second option, (2)Take the Peru Rail from Ollantaytambo, the last town at the border of the remote Andes Mountains. It takes 1 and a half hour train ride through the rich and majestic mountain range without spotting any house or any civilization there. I was amazed at how completely lost it really is.
We arrived in Aguas Calientes the day before. It is the sole town at the foot of Machu Picchu that was specially created to cater to tourists. We bought the entrance tickets at the Tourist Office and bus ticket at the station that will take us up the mountain. We took the first bus trip of the day. This place has never lost its mystery. Up until today, it still causes oohs and ahhhs from any tourist as soon as they step foot at the entrance.
Tips for travellers planning a trip here :
1. Don't forget to put calamine lotion. The mosquito bites here (even with the lotion) leave weird red patches that seem to evolve and grow each week leaving them itchy for a whole month. (My husband even took the day off from office because it was unbearable, he couldn't stop scratching).
2. Bring your passport with you. They have 'Machu Picchu' stamps at the gate which you could place in your passport.3. Stay in Aguas Calientes the night before and take the first bus. Be there at the bus station 1 hour before the departure because there is a very long queue. The first bus leaves if I'm not mistaken at 5:30 AM so by 6:00 AM you'd be up there watching Machu Picchu's sunrise. This would be perfect for picture taking as there aren't many visitors yet and you have the place mostly to yourselves along with the first batch so you could enjoy the serenity of the place.
4. Note that the tourists from different tours seem to arrive and leave at the same time like flies. They all come rushing in around 10AM and the whole place is packed and would immediately disappear by 2PM. So spend the entire day.
5. For those with strong knees, queue for the Wayna Picchu climb. The gate is at the back. They only allow a limited number of climbers per day so if you're lucky and up for it, go and take the steps.
6. Food is not allowed inside. Don't forget to eat something, preferably a good breakfast before going to the bus station. It would be great if you could sneak in some small biscuits and water in your backpack. Hehehe.
7. Take a lot of memory space for your camera and bring extra just in case. Make sure your camera is fully charged. It would be awful otherwise because the entrance ticket is incredibly expensive! 8. There's no toilet inside Machu Picchu. You'd have to walk all the way back to the entrance and bring 1.00 soles with you for the toilet fee. I suffered because of this. I forgot to get some money and I had to wait for Yohann to go down from Wayna Picchu so I could go to the toilet. I ended up waiting for 3 hours before I could go. Believe me, those were the longest hours.
Nevertheless, it was the cherry on top of our whole expedition that I will never ever forget.