How to choose the best Peru and Machu Picchu tour?
Book your Peru and Machu Picchu tour and enjoy a magical experience! Machu Picchu is one of the most enchanting places in the world.
In Machu Picchu, you will feel as if you were traveling in time. Visiting Peru is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Therefore, booking a good tour of the Inca citadel can make all the difference. In this blog, you will find the information you need to decide on the best tour company for your Peru and Machu Picchu experience!
Peru is considered one of South America’s most captivating countries. It offers endless possibilities for curious travelers. As a result, you will enjoy Peruvian gastronomy, colorful textiles, and history. Additionally, the beautiful panoramic views will take your breath away. The Inca’s majestic and mysterious culture can be best admired if you plan your Peru and Machu Picchu tours in advance. Therefore, when booking your trip, you should consider:
- Decide when to go to Machu Picchu
- Consider your tour transportation options
- Check what activities the tour includes
Machu Picchu is undeniably Peru’s main destination. The ‘Lost City of the Incas’ is an artistic, architectural, and engineering achievement in perfect harmony with nature. As a result, its mesmerizing history and spiritual mystery attract millions of visitors each year.
A brief historic glimpse you need to know for your Peru and Machu Picchu tours
The American archeologist Hiram Bingham rediscovered Machu Picchu on July 24, 1911. According to History Channel, it could have been a retreat for Inca leaders. From the 16th century to 1911, its existence was a well-kept secret by people who lived in the region.
The ‘Lost City of the Incas’
Colonial documents refer to the historic sanctuary as the “Settlement of the Inkas” or the “Old Village of the Inka Named Guaynapicchu.” In the same way, the names “Machu Picchu” and “Huayna Picchu” appeared for the first time in a cartographic document in 1874.
37 years later, Bingham rediscovered the place after traveling from Cusco into the Urubamba Valley on foot and by mule. A farmer told him about some ruins on the Machu Picchu mountain, which means “Old Peak” in the Quechua language.
Led by an 11-year-old boy, the archeologist climbed the mountain’s ridge and saw the Sacred City for the first time. A year later, he conducted excavations with a multidisciplinary team from the Yale Peruvian Expedition.
The ruins stretch over 5 miles and have 3,000 stone steps. Nowadays, more than 1 million people travel to the Llacta or Inca citadel of Machu Picchu annually. As a result, people marvel at one of the world’s most famous man-made wonders.
In 1981, Machu Picchu has proclaimed a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary. In the same way, UNESCO declared Machu Picchu a World Heritage Site in 1983. Also, in 2007, it was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
When is the best time to choose your Peru and Machu Picchu tour?
First of all, you should decide when you want to book your Peru and Machu Picchu tour. Since it’s located in a subtropical area, Machu Picchu has a particular climate. Hence, the Sanctuary of Machu Picchu possesses one of the richest ecosystems on the planet.
Machu Picchu has two seasons
Machu Picchu is a year-round destination with seasonal weather: rainy and dry. As a result, it has a pleasant climate, making it ideal for hiking. Even though Machu Picchu’s high altitude, is located 2440 meters (8000 feet) above sea level. On average the temperatures stick between 50 to 80 °F (10 to 27 °C). However, the weather can change unexpectedly. Remember to always be prepared for intense rain or sun!
Regardless of the season, you should bring waterproof clothes because it can rain anytime. Also, the Peruvian sun is extremely strong. Therefore, it is recommended to wear a hat, sunglasses, and plenty of SPF sunscreen. It is also suggested to bring insect repellent. Here you can find some key features of each season:
Rainy Season (December through April)
- Foggy mornings
- February is the wettest month in the Cusco and the Sacred Valley region.
- Rainy days help the vegetation to get an intense green.
- Pack waterproof clothes, a jacket, and hiking shoes.
- In the rainy season, Machu Picchu could be cloud-covered with low visibility. However, the clouds dissipate throughout the morning. Also, a foggy scenario can give a charming and mysterious feel to the experience.
Dry Season (May through November)
- Clear skies and the lowest daily rainfall averages.
- Tourist peak season in Cusco and Machu Picchu.
- June, July, and August are particularly busy.
- Include sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen protection.
- Bring insect repellent.
How to start your unforgettable Peru and Machu Picchu tour?
When traveling with Rebecca Adventure Travel, the magical Machu Picchu experience starts when you arrive at Cusco International Airport. Cusco, at 3,400 meters above sea level (11,200 ft), is located in the southeastern part of Peru.
Cusco was the capital of the Tawantinsuyu Inca Empire between the 15th and the 16th century, until the Spanish conquest. In 1983, the city was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Also, the Constitution of Peru distinguishes it as the Historical Capital of Peru.
Annually, Cusco hosts nearly 2 million visitors. Travelers and wanderers find Cusco a mystical city. You can walk through streets with curious names such as Ataúd (coffin), Siete Culebras (Seven Streets), and Arpías (harpies).
The ancestral and magical living history of its streets has been kept intact. You will find colonial and republican houses, monasteries, and churches from the Incan and colonial times.
How to acclimatize for your Peru and Machu Picchu tour?
Once you land in Cusco, you will immediately feel as if the air has become thinner. The high altitude may trigger some mild effects of altitude sickness. You may feel headaches, fatigue, and nausea. In this case, you should drink a lot of water, and try the coca or mate de coca tea that helps with altitude sickness.
Even though they are the source material for cocaine drugs, don’t worry, coca leaves are NOT addictive! They are used as natural remedies for headaches, sore throats, stomach aches, and a relief for pain and hunger. In the streets, you can see people walking and chewing unprocessed leaves. They are part of the Peruvian national identity.
In South America, coca has been cultivated for about 8,000 years. Coca was sacred to the Incas, and they treasured the leaves for their medicinal properties. In the same way, they used them for rites, rituals, and ceremonies.
How to start your Cusco to Machu Picchu tour
You can get from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, by trek or train. Train rides are the quickest way to get to Machu Picchu. However, if you are an adventurous person, you can choose to follow the footsteps of the Incas on a multi-day hike of the Inca Trail. Doesn’t matter which one you choose, every Machu Picchu tour is mind-blowing!
The train journey is an impressive trip. The trip is known as one of the most scenic train rides in the world. It gives visitors a dramatic view of the lush valleys and rugged peaks while following the course of the Urubamba River.
The tour starts at Cusco station. During a 4.5-hour journey, the train passes through the Sacred Valley to Ollantaytambo and continues to the last stop in Aguas Calientes station. Aguas Calientes is the closest point to Machu Picchu ruins. The only access to the city is by train from Ollantaytambo.
Make sure you have your camera ready! Nature changes through the journey: Andean foothills transform into the lush cloud forest of Machu Picchu.
When you arrive at Machu Picchu, you will have to take a 25-minute bus ride up the mountain. Trains to and from Machu Picchu run daily. Hence, make sure to book your Peru and Machu Picchu tours in advance. That way you will have the train tickets ready when you arrive in Cusco!
The hiking route of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is part of the Qhapaq Ñan extensive route. The Andean Road System is an extensive Inca communication, trade, and defense network that covers 30,000 km or 18,641.13 miles. The Inca Trail was constructed by the Incas over Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Colombia. Consequently, it runs from the coast, hot rainforests, valleys, deserts, and the snow-capped peaks of the Andes.
In Peru, Qhapaq Ñan has many routes. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu has 43 kilometers (26.71 miles) that end in the ‘Sun Gate’ at sunrise. During the multi-day trail, visitors can appreciate ancient Inca ruins. In the same way, they can enjoy incredible panoramic views, wildlife sightseeing, and traditional villages. The Inca Trail is part of many Peru bucket lists!
7 Questions to ask when you are booking your Peru and Machu Picchu tour
1. When do you want to go?
Because Machu Picchu is a year-round destination, you should decide when you want to visit the Inca citadel. Consider that the high tourist season in Cusco and Machu Picchu runs from May to September. June, July, and August are very busy.
Even though the skies are clearer and there is beautiful weather, you will find other tourists going to the same attractions. On the contrary, during the low season, there is a greater risk of rain, but there are fewer people in the area.
2. Where do you want to start?
You should determine where you want to start your tour. There are options from Lima, Peru’s capital, or you can travel directly to Cusco. Cusco has an international airport, so you can get there from anywhere in the world.
3. Do you want to travel on a budget or luxury?
Machu Picchu can be enjoyed either on a budget or with a luxury tour. You should decide the best way for you to visit the site.
4. Do you want an all-inclusive tour?
All-inclusive tours include:
- Airport pickups and drop-offs
- Transportation on and between Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands
- Accommodation in a single, double or triple room.
- Transportation fees in Cusco and the Galapagos Islands.
- Entrance fee to Machu Picchu.
- Snorkeling equipment in the Galapagos Islands: mask, snorkel, fins, and life vest
- Meals as described in the itinerary.
- Guide assistance.
5. Check your fitness level
In Machu Picchu, fitness level matters. If you plan to do some Andean treks, you may need some experience.
6. How many walking circuits are there?
In Machu Picchu, you will find two main circuits. Also, there is a trail designed for people with limited mobility.
7. Are you looking for short or extended Tours?
There are standard Machu Picchu tours that accommodate the travelers’ needs. Alternatively, you can book an extended Peru and Machu Picchu tour package that gives you the opportunity to discover other places around Cusco and the Sacred Valley.
The Sacred Valley of the Incas is a tangible remnant of the Inca Empire. When visiting the Sacred Valley, tourists can choose from fascinating trekking routes through rocky mountains ridges and pre-Columbian paths. You can upgrade your adventure by visiting these places:
- Maras Salt Mines
- Huchuy Cusco
Originally known as Vinicunca, the Rainbow Mountains (Montaña de Siete Colores) mountainsides look like they were painted in yellow, greens, reds, and purples. The best time to visit the mountains is between March and November, or June to August. Also, you should plan to go in the morning, right after sunrise.
What to expect from a remarkable Peru and Machu Picchu tour?
Machu Picchu is one of those places that casts a spell on you from the first moment you arrive. Getting to Machu Picchu is like stepping into a thrilling dream. You are dazzled by the electric blue skies. As well as spectacular Incan architecture right in the middle of majestic mountains. At 2,430 meters (7,970 ft) above sea level, booking a Machu Picchu tour is worth every cent. Thus, what activities should you plan?
Beautiful views at the Sun Gate (Intipunku)
The Sun Gate, or Intipunku (native Quechua language), was the main entrance to Machu Picchu citadel. It follows the Inca Trail that ends at Machu Picchu. Thus, from Intipunku you will admire the fantastic view of the mysterious ‘Lost City of the Incas.’
Visit the emblematic Temple of the Sun
The Temple of the Sun, or the Torreón, was a sacred temple built for ceremonial purposes. The Incas used it to pay tribute and give offerings to the sun. The Torreón was used as an astronomical observatory. Therefore, it helped to measure solstices and stargazing.
Inti, also called Apu-punchau, was known as the sun god. He was the son of Viracocha, the universe creator, and his wife, Mama Cocha, the goddess of the sea. The Incas believed that the sun controlled their lives, being vital for agriculture. Inti was a benevolent god, but also could become terribly angry. For instance, solar eclipses were supposed to be a manifestation of his discontent.
Manco Cápac, the founder of the Inca Empire, was Inti’s son. During the Inca Empire, Inti Raymi -Quechua for “Inti festival”- was the most important ceremony celebrated in Cusco. Indigenous cultures in the Andes celebrate Inti Raymi every June 24th.
See the Sacred Rock
The Sacred Rock is shaped as the Putucusi Mountain, located on the opposite side of the Urubamba River. The monolith has a height of 3 meters, seated in a base of 7 meters in width. It is thought to have been an altar, being at an area of worship of the gods -also known as Apus-.
Hike up to Huayna Picchu
The famous photos of the Inca citadel always include the beautiful Huayna Picchu mountain, standing right behind Machu Picchu.
Adventure tourists like to hike Huayna Picchu for its incredible views. The hike requires no technical skills or climbing tools. However, railings and cables for support are needed in some sections. The total ascent is over 350 meters (1,000 ft).
Visit the Temple of the Moon
If you climb Huayna Picchu, you will be able to visit the Temple of the Moon and The Great Cavern. The Temple of the Moon was used as an observation point. It was built inside a natural cave. For instance, the Incas preferred caves because they could connect them to the world of the dead.
Tour the Principal Temple
Principal Temple is located on the Sacred Plaza. With its three-sided building, it is a great example of Inca masonry. Consequently, the temple was used for ceremonial offerings, rituals, and burials. It is located at the highest position in the city.
Look at Intihuatana
Intihuatana means ‘place to tie up the sun.’ It was carved from a huge rock and stands at the Sacred Plaza. The four-sided, rectangular-shaped stone points to the north, south, east and west directions. Hence, the Incas used the Intihuatana in order to predict solstices.
Contemplate the Inca architecture
The engineering genius and precision of the Incas are one of the most stunning things about Machu Picchu. They mastered the technique to adapt to the mountainous terrain of the Andes. When visiting the citadel, you will marvel at the Inca architecture, and how they managed to build long-lasting structures without iron tools or wheels atop a mountain.
Admire the perfectly cut stones
Machu Picchu walls have stones that fit perfectly together, even at elaborate angles. The Incas achieved precision without iron tools or mortar. Visitors can’t fit a blade between the stones because they are so tightly fit together.
Throughout the Inca Empire, they used limestones and granite. The drawings of Quechua chronicler Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala show that the stones were moved by teams pulling ropes. Likewise, at Machu Picchu, the Incas used the Ashlar masonry technique, which was used only in the sacred, elite Inca structures.
Look for the water Management System
Rain was very important for the Incas. Because of this, they built a 750-meter-long canal, 10 to 16 centimeters deep, to bring water down to the city. The Incas developed a subsurface drainage system that helped Machu Picchu be standing until today. Also, they regulated the heavy rains through a system of conduits and fountains.
Machu Picchu’s function is still a debate amongst archaeologists. Some theories propose that it was an estate for the Inca Pachacuti, an Inca leader that transformed the Empire. In Quechua, Pahcakutiq means “reformer of the world.” Others consider it could have been a pilgrimage site that included the Inca Trail.
Appreciate the agricultural terraces
The Incas mastered harvesting in the Andes’ sharp slopes and intermittent waterways. Moreover, they established the terraced constructions cut into the hillsides. Throughout the whole Inca Empire, the terraces system was installed. Likewise, they expanded the land used for agricultural activities. With them, the Incas were able to use rainwater as a source of crop irrigation through channels.
Taste the delicious Peruvian gastronomy
Peru is worldwide known for its diverse gastronomy. Peruvian chefs have been awarded for their use of flavors and ancient ingredients. Likewise, they have fused pre-Colonial, Inca, and international cuisines to achieve one of the most important cuisines in the world.
Peru has an important genetic diversity, with traditional foods such as corn, potatoes, tubers, Amaranthaceae (quinoa, Kiñiwa, and Kiwicha), and legumes. With the Spanish conquest, they also included Spanish foods like rice, wheat, and meats (beef, pork, and chicken). Peru has:
- More than 500 different types of dishes
- More than 3.800 varieties of potatoes
- Over 2.000 different soups
- 300 varieties of chili
In recent years, Peruvian cuisine has developed Novo-Andean food. It’s made with Andean and organic ingredients, brought from the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the South Valley. This movement is trying to re-establish the pre-Hispanic cultural heritage of Peruvian ancestors before the Spanish came to South America.
Visitors can enjoy mouthwatering Peruvian dishes in restaurants as well as in the streets. You must try:
- Lomo saltado
- Stuffed causa
- Baked cuy (guinea pig)
Enjoy your Peru and Machu Picchu tour!
Machu Picchu undeniably should be on every intrepid traveler’s bucket list! The ‘Lost City of the Incas’ will make you feel as if you were part of a secret, a fusion of culture, history, and architectural achievement. The mystery and marvels of the Inca city of wonders will dazzle you.
When booking your Peru and Machu Picchu tours, you will be part of history. Peru is a leading destination in South America. It was awarded the World’s Leading Culinary Destination and the World’s Leading Cultural Destination in the World Travel Awards 2021. Also, Machu Picchu was awarded the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction.
Search for the best tour company for Machu Picchu and Galapagos for you! Hopefully, this has helped you decide how to choose the best Peru and Machu Picchu tours. Additionally, if you need more information regarding when to travel to the Galapagos or Ecuador, you can contact us. One of our Destination Experts will be happy to help.
Happy and safe travels!
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