Some things to think about when planning your visit:
Take a hat and sun screen, even if the weather's overcast - in those mountains it can change very quickly (it was cloudy all morning when we were there but clear and bright in the afternoon)
Take bottled water - there are no facilities inside the site. The same applies to food as well of course [there are places to eat just outside - a snack bar or in the nearby hotel]
Do think about having a guide, especially if you only have the one day to see the place. OK it can be a bit of a hassle going round in a group, but a guide will make sure you see all the essentials and tell you some of the history, and there should still be time to explore by yourself in the afternoon.
If you don't think you have the stamina to climb to Huayna Picchu try the path up to and beyond the Caretaker's Hut (where this photo was taken). This will get you high enough for some great photos - but even that will take some effort at this altitude!
Just got back today from Cusco and Machu Pichu.
Bought my ticket in Cusco just so I wouldn't waste time getting a ticket in AC after getting off the train.
There was a sign in the office saying ticket to Machu Pichu were not limited but that train tickets were and you should have your train ticket first (no requirement to show that I had a train ticket).
The archeological complex is located in the top of a mountain, Machu Picchu (quechua word that means “old mountain or the main mountain”) that gives to the citadel the name and the amazing landscape that all of us have seen.
The ruins of Macchu Picchu must be visited in person in order to absorb the sheer magnitude and beauty of the place. The structures are every bit as spectacular as photos indicate, particularly in the quiet and peaceful dawn hours.
However, buses begin dropping tourists by the busload at the ruins, making the trek up and down the hill every 15 minutes or so. The ruins acquire a Disney-esque feel with this onslaught of people, and the newly designed entry way, consisting of a visitor center with jewelry shops and concession stands, only contributes to the theme park atmosphere.
However, it is still possible to traverse the ruins in quiet, meditative solitude. Several “trails” are recommended in the map to the ruins, and I “hiked” the blue, red, and yellow trails. The blue and red trails traverse the plaza and steep stone steps of the ruins, taking visitors to a tower, chambers, and sun dial overlooking the main plaza. They also cross the various granaries and meeting rooms in the massive complex and end in the steep amphitheater, the hallmark of the ruins. Sleepy llamas bask in the sunshine on the grass lawns of one part of the plaza, and the trapezoidal windows decorating each stone room and the steep amphitheater steps create excellent photo opportunities.
The yellow trail skirts the steep edges and steps of the complex and is hiked by very few. I traversed the trail, at one point sitting on a terrace overlooking one portion of the ruins which had fallen into decay, accompanied only by fluffy, wild chinchillas scampering happily among the steps. A portion of the trail leads to a series of steps going downhill to another entryway into the complex. I encountered no other people along this path. Several parts of the trail skirt dangerously along the edge of the ruins, and the hill surrounding the complex drops precipitously to the valley and river below.
Winding down the path from the "postcard view", you will enter the city from the "South Gate". Although most the tours circle in from the downhill direction, this was the only way into the city before Machu Picchu was abandoned.
This castle-esque structure rises into the mist from the Residential area. Once upon a time, there were would have been a thatched roof here. Nearby, you can see a replica of what a house would have looked like back in the day.
From the main entrance, the path splits, one side going up to the "postcard view" and the other side going down to this cool little hut at the edge of the hill.
In the fog, this looked like the hut at the end of the world -- so cool.
If you have time to spend at the site of Machu Picchu. It is worth to trek up for 45 minutes to Puente del sol. On the way, you will pass some ruins and view along the way is really great! You will realize that the bus route up to Machu Picchu is a snake! And the way down, it will take only 15 minutes :)
In this part of the city, two mortars that were most likely being used by ceramists were found, that is why historians called it the Industrial Sector. Remains of clay were also found here, which suggests some kind of pottery workshop.
As you enter the Urban Sector you will find yourself in the Residential Area of the citadel. This area was probably destined for the ordinary inhabitants of Machu Picchu because there aren´t any palaces or temples here.
Just let yourself go and try to imagine an ordinary day in the city...
The history behind the ruins of Machu Picchu is very mysterious, but you can´t help thinking how it would be to live in this city when it was inhabited. Walking around it almost transports you to the greatest days of inca civilization and makes you wonder how they lived, moved from a place to another, ate and other stuff like that.
After descending these looong stairs, you´ll reach the Urban Sector. That´s when the adventure starts to become better and better...
Built in around 1440 and inhabited until 1532, Machu Picchu was not a city but more of a country retreat for nobility. The site has numerous buildings including residences, a palace and temples along with courtyards and houses for support staff. It is thought that around 750 people lived here at any one time.
"It is thought that the site was chosen for its unique location and geological features. It is said that the silhouette of the mountain range behind Machu Picchu represents the face of the Inca looking upward towards the sky, with the largest peak, Huayna Picchu (meaning Young Peak), representing his nose." (Wikipedia)
Taking the pictures in Machu Picchu will save the memory that otherwise the brain can't keep indefinitly... Make sure you take good ones, and for that, try different views, like looking through a window or a door...
This is why your here, right? To walk wher the Inka walked, to see there work untuched by Spanish colonialism. It really is a spectacular place, a city of huge stones on top of a mountian. you are actually at a lower altitude than Cuzco but you feel like you are on the top of the world, surounded by the Andies, rainforests below, those Inka sure could pick a location. Truely one of Life's must do's.,
To get in to the Sanctuary 69 Son, about $34.50. If you have a student ID use it, the price falls to 36 Son, $18.
One of Machu Picchu's primary functions was that of astronomical observatory.
The Intihuatana stone (meaning 'Hitching Post of the Sun') has been shown to be a precise indicator of the date of the two equinoxes and other significant celestial periods.
The Intihuatana is designed to hitch the sun at the two equinoxes.
At midday on March 21st and September 21st, the sun stands almost directly above the pillar, creating no shadow at all. At this precise moment the sun is "tied" to the rock.
At these periods, the Incas held ceremonies at the stone in which they "tied the sun" to halt its northward movement in the sky.