I always wanted to visit Peru, but I never knew why. I didn’t know many people who had been and I hadn’t heard much about it, but for some reason I was dying to visit.
When I left for my Central America Adventure it was just that: an adventure through Central America. But while I was in Costa Rica I met a handful of Danes that were heading south and they invited me to join them in Peru. Without hesitation I said yes.. it was a chance to check South America off the list (only Australia and Antarctica to go)!!
It didn’t take long for me to realize why Peru had been so attractive to me. After three days in the country I was in love and convinced that Peru was one of the most magnificent places I had ever been.
I’ll write more about Trujillo, Huaraz, Huacachina, and all the reasons to love Peru soon, but I want to start with the destination that makes Peru so famous: Machu Picchu. You’ve all heard of it, some of you might even think you want to visit it, but this blog aims to convince each and every one of you that Machu Picchu should absolutely be on your bucket list.
How to Visit This Tourist Spot Without Forgoing Adventure
There’s no way around it: Machu Picchu is a tourist-magnet. People flock by the thousands, crowding the buses and trains, and walk starry-eyed with cameras in hand through the ancient ruins. Many of us travelers seek out destinations where tourists are few and far between and English-speaking natives are practically non-existent. Machu Picchu is not one of these places. But it still managed to steal this traveler’s heart.
So how can you experience Machu Picchu without the tourists driving you crazy?
First of all, travel via trek. It may be easier and faster to take the bus or train, but it takes away 90% of the experience. The Inca Trail is the most expensive trek available and can run a couple hundred dollars, but if you do a little searching in Cusco (I recommend checking out the tour desk at Oki Doki Hostel) you can find the Salcantay and Inca Jungle Treks for as little as $170. It’s a steal for 4+ days of trekking, including food and accommodation, and it is by far the best way to see Machu Picchu.
Also make sure you get there at 6am when the doors open. The ruins will be practically empty so you can explore freely without dodging restless children and over-eager tourists. Beginning the climb at 4am might sound daunting, but when you hit that 1900th step and see the entrance looming before you… well you just can’t beat that kind of ecstasy.
I’ve seen my fair share of ruins. Between Turkey, Greece, and Rome I thought I’d seen everything there was to see ruin-wise. Plus, by the time I was climbing to Machu Picchu I’d already toured tons of Inca ruins in the Sacred Valley and though I knew it would be magnificent, I didn’t expect to be blown away. I was starting to feel ruined-out.
But the minute I summited the peak and turned the corner into the Machu Picchu village, I was breathless—and not just from the hiking. Machu Picchu is the only Inca village that the Spaniards never found and 80% of the ruins are still intact. To put that into context, most of the ruins in the Sacred Valley are 40% original.
You think Machu Picchu is going to be amazing, but there’s no way to predict the speechless awe you will experience when you see the famous view in person.
From there you are free to explore the incredible village, run your hands along the ancient walls, and imagine what life was like years ago when they were still sacrificing llamas and praying to the sun.
I don’t care if you think you’re a ruin person or not. I don’t care if you’re convinced that you’ve seen enough ruins. I don’t care who you are or where you are, I promise you this: Machu Picchu is worth the visit.