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Last month my wife and I spent 7 days in the Sacred Valley Peru. We stayed 1 night at the Hilton Garden Inn Cusco and 5 days at the Tambo del Inka hotel in Urubamba. We did many things in the Sacred Valley but of course the highlight of our trip was a visit to Machu Picchu. I’ve written already about how to buy tickets for Machu Picchu, and 4 tips for taking the train to Machu Picchu, but I thought I’d also share 5 Machu Picchu tips including the one thing I wish I would have brought.
Machu Picchu tips #1 – Slow down and take in the view
Another of my Machu Picchu tips and tricks is to try and slow down if you can. It’s not a race and you’re (probably) never going to come back to Machu Picchu. So take some time to just sit down and take it all in.
Bring bugspray! (and sunblock and a hat)
In Ollantaytambo, as we waited for the train to take us to Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes), there were all number of vendors selling different things. I ignored them as I ignore all people trying to sell me something, but one of the things they were selling (that I wish we’d have brought) was bugspray. Even now (over a month later), I STILL have healing bug bites on my legs! Sunblock and a hat would also be good things to remember to bring. Even though it wasn’t that hot at Machu Picchu, the sun was beating pretty good so sunblock and a hat would help. We had sunblock (but not a hat) but still ended up getting a bit sunburned.
Of course, even bugspray might not have helped us against this guy (that we found on the path back down from the Sun Gate)
Machu Picchu tip – The Sun Gate is far away!
I had heard that the Sun Gate (Intipunku) was where you got the “classic” pictures of Machu Picchu so when we saw a sign pointing to the Sun Gate soon after we entered the park, we decided to follow that trail.
We didn’t quite realize how far it was away from the main part of Machu Picchu! It ended up being a 45 minute (uphill) hike
Of course, the view you get is pretty awesome!
That’s Machu Picchu way back in the background, so you can get an idea for how long the hike is. You can also see the windy road that the buses take to bring you from Machu Picchu Pueblo (where you take the train to Machu Picchu) up to the ruins themselves.
The Sun Gate is also where the Inca Trail for hikers comes in to the park.
Bring a guidebook (or hire a guide)
My last Machu Picchu tip is that you probably want to hire a guide or at least bring a guidebook. I’m not a huge fan of hired guides for things, because I like to see things at my own pace.
But the problem is that at Machu Picchu, unlike many museums and archaeological sites in the US, there aren’t any signs, guideposts or informative displays. I assume that is intentional as a way to encourage you to hire a guide. But if you don’t hire a guide, you’re kind of in the dark.
Like… what’s the significance of this big rock?
So if you’re not going to hire a guide, my big Machu Picchu tip is that you probably should buy / rent a guidebook before you go and take it with you. I would imagine such guidebooks are pretty prevalent.
What about you? What are your best Machu Picchu tips and tricks? Leave them in the comments