While it is almost certain you will have a memorable time in Machu Picchu, your visit should not just be a quick tour to see the ruins, snap a few stunning pictures, and then leave.
Machu Picchu is one of those versatile ruins that offer much more than a glimpse back to the Inca’s history and their marvelous architecture. Here are some of the things you can do to enhance your visit that go beyond the typical two-hour tour.
Watch The Sunrise from Machu Picchu
You will have to wake up around 4 am, the latest, to be able to queue in line for the first buses that depart to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes.
If you’re able to take one of the first buses, you will be at Machu Picchu early enough to watch the first rays of light as they hit and illuminate the ruins from the most sacred and highest point to the least, displacing the shadows like a soft blanket sliding down the mountains.
This experience alone is a great way to start your day in these mystical ruins.
Take Some Time Your Own
Find some solitude and “connect” with the ruins and the environment around you, or at least enjoy them on your own for a while and at your own pace.
Tours are great to get the historical knowledge and facts, but the time you make by yourself will serve you better to admire the details, enjoy the different spaces, and relax in the stunning scenery.
I loved taking my time sitting on the upper agricultural terraces where I had an overall view of the ruins and Huayna Picchu. Complete relaxation.
Mingle with the Llamas
What can I say, I love Llamas! There are dozens of llamas roaming in and around the ruins. Don’t be afraid to get close to them, they are friendly and used to be around people, so feel free to pet them and snap a few pictures with them.
Climb Huayna Picchu
This is the tall sharp mountain that stands tall right next to Machu Picchu. Daily, only 400 visitors are allowed to hike up to the ancient observatory on the top of Huayna Picchu, so if you’re into catching this unique vantage point of Machu Picchu, you should try to climb it as early as possible.
This is definitely an adventurous task, as climbing to the top demands a lot of physical activity since it is really steep (your legs will feel the burn) and narrow, but it is all worth it! Talk about culture with an adrenaline touch!
Tip: Book your hike to Huayna Picchu at least a month in advance. It’s always fully booked! You can check on the official website, or you can have it all planned with this highly recommended day tour that includes the train from Cusco, Machu Picchu, and Huayna Picchu.
Hike to the Inca Bridge
This is also a good way to add adrenaline to your visit to Machu Picchu, but it is less strenuous than Huayna Picchu. Still, you will be walking along narrow paths with 1,900ft drops on one side and no handrails.
The Inca Bridge is a narrow path along the side of the mountain that is half-carved and half-built, leading to an actual bridge 20ft long. The bridge was made out of tree trunks and easily discarded to cut access to the ruins.
Hike to Intipunku – the Sun Gate
The Sun Gate, the culmination of the Inca Trail, is a pass between the mountains where Inca Trail hikers get the chance to see Machu Picchu for the first time as the sun rises and illuminates the ruins.
If you’re not doing the Inca Trail, you can hike up to Intipunku at any time of the day to get a glimpse of the ruins from a completely different perspective. The view is astonishing, quiet, and peaceful.
Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
In my opinion, this is overall the best way to get the most out of your visit to Machu Picchu. Not only is the hike a 4-day adventure, but it is also the prelude to what you’ll see and experience at Machu Picchu, the jewel of the crown.
The trail is full of ruins and interesting sights, as it was used by the Incas to access Machu Picchu and other important places throughout the Andes. And let’s not forget about the natural scenery, which is one of the most stunning and impressive things about the trails.
I believe doing the Inca Trail gives you a better appreciation of your time at Machu Picchu. It is the prize you deserve after all the physical effort!
I did this tour of the Inca Trail with G Adventures, and I loved every minute of my experience with them. I highly recommend them.
Have you gone to Machu Picchu? What other ways do you recommend experiencing these ruins?