Permits? Check. Hiking gear? Check. Passport? Check. If you’re planning to book a trip to Peru, looked at the different ways to reach Machu Picchu and feel ready to go then think again. We’ve put together ten handy points you should know before you set of on your big Peruvian adventure.
1. You don’t need to hike to visit Machu Picchu
Whenever there’s mention of visiting the iconic Machu Picchu, it’s natural to assume there’s only one way to get there. Through the Inca Trail. However this isn’t necessarily the case at all! The brilliant thing about getting to Machu Picchu is the different choices that you have to get up there. Tucan Travel currently offer options to reach Machu Picchu via a scenic train ride or the famous four-day trek. For those wanting to get a taste of the hike but not necessarily take on four days, there is the option to do the one-day hike.
2. Prepare for cold nights
We’d be lying if we said it didn’t get cold in the evenings that you spend camping on the Inca Trail. Even though you are in South America it doesn’t mean you escape the cold! Nights average between 7-8 degrees so it’s important to wrap up warm with double layers when sleeping at the campsites.
3. Waterproof clothing is your friend
One of the biggest lessons you can learn on the Inca Trail is to wear waterproof clothing. The weather as you trek can be unpredictable and if you’re not fully covered for rain, it is recommended you get a poncho to wear over yourself and your bags.
4. Stamp your passports
Visitors are able to get their passports stamped for free to commemorate their visit to Machu Picchu at the entrance to the site’s national park. What better way of remembering your time in Peru?
5. You will have a team of porters to accompany you
Porters on the various treks will accompany you at every step of the way, meaning they will help carry the main bulk of the luggage throughout the course of your trek. Each porter is already experienced and very used to the treks and it’s their job to help carry the load so that you can focus on enjoying the scenery as much as possible. We do however, recommend tipping each of the porters at the end for their help and hard work!
6. The Inca Trail is closed in February
Did you know that every February the Inca Trail is closed for maintenance? The government is in charge of looking after the National Park use the month of February to go through maintenance work to ensure the safety of future visitors and the well-being of the trail itself.
7. You cannot re-enter once you’ve left
Machu Picchu’s new entry regulations enforced in 2017 mean that once you enter through the main gate to the National Park you are limited to one visit. If you complete your guided tour of the ruins and want to exit for other reasons, you will not be allowed back inside due to strict crowd control. You must also be accompanied by a registered local guide upon entering the site.
8. There are different treks you can do
Despite the Inca Trail being the most popular trek to Machu Picchu, there are actually a few other off-the-beaten-track alternative treks. The Salcantay route for example, gives travellers the opportunity to hike past Mount Salcantay, passing everything from subtropical cloud forests to ancient ruins. Another popular alternative is the quieter Lares trek .
9. You can rent sleeping bags & walking poles
If you are planning on doing any of the treks which involve days of camping, you will need to bring your own sleeping bags or walking poles. Alternatively, you also have the option to rent these if you speak to your local guide before you begin the trek.
10. You can only take small backpacks into the national park
As part of the new entry regulations, the National Park have also limited the size of backpacks upon entering to see the site. At the entrance gate you will have the option to keep all bags and hiking gear in storage for a fee while you enter to explore the grounds and take that all important Machu Picchu photo.