Some people wait years to be able to get a chance to see the majestic Inca ruins at Machu Picchu, so if you get a chance to reach the spectacular cloud-enshrouded green peaks that are home to the ancient and incredibly well-preserved UNESCO World Heritage site, you want to be sure to do the trip right.
It is entirely possible to travel to Machu Picchu independently. However, because of its popularity and the limited number of visitors allowed on the site each day, it pays to plan ahead; tour operators can be an invaluable help. If you book with a tour operator in your home country, you will have the advantage of planning well in advance; however, you may pay more than if you plan the trip when you are in Peru. Peruvian tour operators based out of Lima, Cusco or any other major Peruvian city can also help you book your tour-usually at a slightly lower price than international operators.
During the day, there are always guides available at the entrance to Machu Picchu. More expensive guides can be hired at the nearby Sanctuary Lodge. Most local operators offer a one-day excursion from Cusco to Machu Picchu, which includes all transport and a professional guide. (It’s usually a good idea to make sure the guide speaks English.) From Cusco, you’ll have to take a train to Aguas Calientes, the nearest town to Machu Picchu. From Aguas Calientes it’s a 20-minute bus ride up to the ruins.
If you’re visiting Machu Picchu as part of a day tour, you’ll usually spend about four hours at the ruins. Two of these hours are spent as part of the guided tour. If you want to stay longer, or see the ruins at sunrise (highly recommended), spend the night in nearby Aguas Calientes or in the expensive Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge-the only hotel adjacent to Machu Picchu. Some tour companies offer tours spread over two days, but you may have to pay for the additional costs of accommodation. In addition to Machu Picchu tours, treks of the Inca Trail can also be arranged at one of the many Cusco tour agencies.