This past November, I made it to one of the wonders of the world, Machu Picchu! Here is how I got there.
Behind the Scenes Video
First, I booked a tour with Latin Escapes Tours (highly recommended tour group) and flew from Lima to Cusco, the gateway city to Machu Picchu. Once I landed in Cusco, I felt out of breath from the elevation. Cusco is over 10,000 feet high, so I had to take a day to acclimate and drink the local coca tea, an herbal remedy for elevation.
The next day, I boarded the PeruRail train which took about three hours and crossed through the scenic Urubamba River Valley. The scenery changed multiple times from corn fields, to river rapids, to cloud forest, and finally the towering Andes Mountains. The train was perfect for photographers as it had a domed glass ceiling and tall windows. During the ride, they served snacks and drinks, which I got the local drink, chicha morada.
At last, I reached Aguas Calientes, the village at the base of Machu Picchu. This was where I boarded the fifteen minute bus ride to get to the top of Machu Picchu. The other option was to trek the Inca Trail, which is a rewarding hike but takes much longer and requires a permit. At the top, we found a restaurant as well as a coat check where I stored my bags in preparation for the mountain climb.
It was time to enter Machu Picchu! At this point, I was about 8,500 feet high and every step felt like I was taking twenty steps. The weather in Machu Picchu was hard to predict (it could be anywhere from a humid 80 degrees, to a rainy 50 degrees in November), so I brought layers and active-wear clothing. Make sure to check out our recommended items to pack in the Travel Kit below!
Photo Stop #1: House of the Guardians
Next I climbed up the mountain where I reached a few viewpoints that offered the best photos of Machu Picchu. The first photo stop was at "The House of the Guardians" near the entrance to Machu Picchu (see map below). I stopped there for the famous aerial Machu Picchu shot with the river on either side.
Photo Stop #2: Llamas
I crossed through the Incan city gate into the ancient site. There were llamas roaming freely on the other side of Machu Picchu near the "Main Square". This made for an excellent photo shoot.
Photo Stop #3: Huyana Picchu
From there, you can find the entrance to Huayna Picchu, the tall steep mountain on the other side of Machu Picchu. You will need an additional ticket to climb this mountain, but views are spectacular.
Most of the tours end around 3pm and many people board the bus at that time. Instead of boarding the bus, I went back into Machu Picchu. I finally was able to get my best, unobstructed photos of the site.
Lastly, I got my passport stamped with the iconic Machu Picchu stamp!
Map of Machu Picchu
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