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“Photos Don't Capture the Spirit and Majesty of Machu Picchu” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Machu Picchu Viajes Peru

Machu Picchu Viajes Peru
Ranked #2 of 771 Tours in Cusco
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Tours to Machu Picchu
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Food available for purchase
Hampton, Virginia
Level Contributor
215 reviews
65 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 72 helpful votes
“Photos Don't Capture the Spirit and Majesty of Machu Picchu”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 28, 2013

It's been 3 weeks since we visited Machu Picchu and the same overpowering feelings I experienced during the visit are still with me today. You can read my Inca Trail review which contain my first impression thoughts. I believe all the reviews that I have read capture the experience quite well as the Machu Picchu experience exceeds expectations and no matter how long or how you got there, it is a place that should not be missed. After our Inca Trail hike, we returned early the next morning to do the complete tour. Our VBT guides did a great job putting MP into the context of the times, the Incan empire and why MP was built. There are many theories, one widely promoted is Mark
Adam's "trek to Mecca" as most people who visit MP, read his book, "Turn Right at Machu Picchu." Our guides had a more practical view that it was a retreat for the Incan rulers as it exhibits the same engineering, masonry, hydraulic, religious and astronomic attributes you would find in any Incan site that the Incan rulers would use. They also believe that the Spaniards knew about it, but since the Incans abandoned the place there was no need for them to destroy the place. It would be uneconomical. Interesting...

Yes, Machu Picchu is crowded. But the crowds really don't get in the way of photo opportunities. Fortunately, the concessions and bathrooms are away from the site. Ideally, the best thing to do is pack a lunch/snack, take the tour and after that stake out a spot and just watch the sun hit the stunning views and you can watch Machu Picchu transform before your eyes.

Sadly, when you leave, the realization hits you that you will never see this place again, or you will have to come back no matter where you visit in South America.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
4 Thank snowbliss1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Ankara, Turkey
Level Contributor
12 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“A real wonderland”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 28, 2013

with good guidence, seeing Macchi Picchu is an excellent exprience. combine it with Cuzco city tour and begin in early hours of the day for more comprehensive experience. Dont forget Macchi Picchu is very expensive: you would pay 4 dollars for a little bottle of water.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank kadir_turkey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miami, FL
Level Contributor
11 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Machu Picchu was beautiful, but very full in the middle of the day”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 25, 2013

Since we went in the high season, this is to be expected. If at all possible, arrive early so you can get there before the Noon rush. They don't allow food or drinks on the grounds, so the only options are the snack bar outside for sandwiches, or the buffet lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge. This is pricey, but then again, what open buffet with nice food isn't? The food was really good, and after all the climbing and hiking paths, we were starving and enjoyed the nice food & ambience.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
3 Thank beatlesmiami
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 attraction reviews
“Unforgettable Experience with Uncover Latin America”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 24, 2013

Went here with my "Hubby" just got married and rather than go to the usual beaches and resorts we thought we would have a bit of adventure and go somewhere completely different. What a honeymoon experience. Machu Picchu and Peru made for the perfect honeymoon experience. We had our vacation arranged for us by Chris from Uncover Latin America, many thanks, the hotels, tours, and little extras and fine attention to detail made it a honeymoon experience that we will remember for a lifetime. We stayed at the El Pueblo by Inkaterra in Aguas Calientes the eveing before our visit to Machu Picchu and were surprised with bubbles in the jacuzzi, champayne and chocolates which made for a relaxing night before the highlight of our trip, Machu Picchu. We had lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge after our tour who put on a fine spread. We didnt purhase tickets in time for Huayna Picchu so instead we did Machu Picchu mountain which was alot less crowded and we had a great angle looking down on Machu Picchu. Bring a hat and sunblock in the dry season months you can get burnt. Our guide Fabricio was excellent. All in all a wonderful trip and would recommend contacting Uncover Latin America for anyone planning their upcoming trip and they will make whole the planning process alot easier.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
Thank Felicity E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Level Contributor
10 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“Machu Picchu--what they DON'T tell you in the guide books”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 22, 2013

Right off the bat my #1 recommendation for Machu Picchu is to buy the additional tickets to "Huaynapicchu" (the jagged mountain behind Machu Picchu--the one you see in the background in all the postcards). This extra excursion made the trip worthwhile for us. They limit the tickets to around 400 people per day, so there's no way you can be over-run with too many people. It's the best way to escape the crowds and get an arial view of Machu Picchu. If you're healthy enough to make it all the way to the top--you're effort will be rewarded with the feeling of being on-top-of-the-world, and a bird's eye view of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley below. It's worth it.

We went during the biggest tourist-trap time of the year: Inti-Raymi (the Winter Solstice and Festival of the Sun). My first recommendation is to NOT go to Cusco/The Sacred Valley/Machu Picchu during this time. It's super-duper touristed out. Everyone knows about it and everyone goes. You will wait in lines, have trouble finding a seat at some restaurants and just have an overall added stress level that makes you wonder if it's all worth it.

Also, even if you're physically up at Machu Picchu during the famed winter solstice, you may not get sunlight at dawn. During our visit on June 21st, the morning was cloudy with some rain.

Alternatively, I would recommend going at the beginning or end of the dry season (when there are less tourists).

The problem with Machu Picchu is that everyone knows about it, it's on everyone's bucket list and everyone's read the same travel guides.

For example, we read that you want to be on the first bus up there, which leaves Aguas Calientes at 5:30am. We arrived around 5:15 and there was a shockingly HUGE line. Luckily, they had several buses waiting, but it was still a MONSTER line. Then once you get to the site of Machu Picchu, guess what? ANOTHER huge line! (this time to get into the site).

So everyone knows about the "catch the first bus" trick, so if you really want to be first, I guess you have to wait in line at 3am. The buses moved quickly though and in the end, it wasn't as bad as it seemed at first.

Aguas Calientes (the little town a 20-minute bus ride away from Machu PIcchu) is the worst tourist-trap I've ever visited (and I've traveled across the U.S. and to 9 other countries). Apparently the town didn't exist before tourists started to arrive in droves. The entire town is either hostels, restaurants, or gift shops. That's it. There's no history and there's no soul or ambience to the place. It's mentally exhausting to stay there. For example, as soon as you step off the train, you're engulfed in a giant tourist-trap gift shop bazaar maze with no exit. It's actually frightening. All the gift shops look the same selling all the same plastic NOT-hand-made junk.

When you're out for a stroll in Aguas Calientes, every single restaurant has a guy out front bugging you to come in. You can't just walk normally and enjoy yourself. After a while my wife and I were literally running from these guys (and laughing). What else can you do? Strangely, nearly every restaurant sits empty. We finally sat in one place and had the most watered-down Pisco Sour I had in all of Peru, and then something went wrong with their brick oven and the smoke came INTO the restaurant. We left without eating, smelling like smoke. All this gave us a story to tell, but if you have any option (and you don't), avoid Aguas Calientes.

I reviewed our hostel, "Camino Real" in another page on this site.

Machu Picchu is certainly beautiful and magical and photogenic. Take your camera and enjoy yourself. You won't be disappointed.

Another trick is to hire a guide. I'm a Do-It-Yourselfer so I thought my maps of Machu Picchu would be good enough. They weren't. Maps are useless once you're up there because what you're looking at in front of you and what the map shows seem entirely different. It costs around $30 for an independent tour guide for 1-2 hours and it's totally worth it (it seemed the charge is the about the same even if you're a larger group). The guides hang out at the entrance to Machu Picchu and you can bargain with them on the price a bit. The nice thing about a personal guide is they can cater to you and show you all the best sites at Machu Picchu and answer all your questions. The information office at the front entrance was totally useless for information (at least for us). Time goes very fast once you're up there, so hiring a guide will help make the best use of your time.

Plan a full day at Machu Picchu (meaning, unfortunately, 2 nights in Aguas Calientes). There's too much to see up there and time goes by fast. If you have to make a train in the afternoon, you'll feel pressure and won't enjoy your visit that much. The sun sets around 5:30pm and the park closes around then, so you don't have much time anyway. If you arrive by train and expect to see it the same day again, you're cutting yourself short. Plan a full day and just enjoy it. It will go fast anyway.

Now for the most frustrating thing about the Sacred Valley/Machu Picchu area--expect to be NICKEL-AND-DIMED to DEATH!!

The best example of this is the bathroom situation at Machu Picchu. First of all, think about it. To GET TO Machu Picchu, what have you had to pay? Plane tickets, tickets to get INTO Machu Picchu, tickets for Huaynapicchu, train tickets, bus tickets, hotels, food, etc. You've spent THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS by the time you're in the actual site of Machu Picchu.

So what do park officials do when you need the bathroom after paying thousands of dollars in their country to be there? Instead of making the bathroom convenient and "free," you have to 1) EXIT the park 2) wait in line and PAY 1 SOLE (about 33 cents) TO USE THE BATHROOM! (and the lady will NOT let you in unless you have your coin ready) 3) you have to roll off the number of SQUARES of toilet paper you need before you enter (in front of everyone) 4) once you're finished using the bathroom, you then have to RE-ENTER THE PARK in the SAME LINE as everyone who's just arrived! (no express lane for those who waited once already because that would make sense and would be too convenient). So you have to wait in line TWICE and pay 33 cents--EACH TIME you use the bathroom (not to mention show your passport & tickets to Machu Picchu again etc). All this so they can shake you down for 33 cents per person each time you tinkle.

Honestly, the nickel-and-diming was the most exhausting and disappointing thing about the entire Sacred Valley experience. It was so bad, my wife and I are glad we went, but would definitely hesitate on making a return trip. By contrast, the capital city of Lima didn't feel that way and was much more relaxed and accommodating.

I also reviewed the train company "Inca Rail" elsewhere on this site. We had a unique experience with that too. Just know the ONLY safe and reliable way to get to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu) is by train. They conveniently have NOT build a road for cars directly to Aguas Calientes so the train companies have a virtual monopoly and can charge what they want for the ride up. If there's a problem on the train tracks (as there was in our case), you can NOT get up there safely. Tourists pay about $100 per person for a round trip ticket and locals (who ride a different train not visible to tourists) pay around one dollar. We found this tidbit interesting.

Another thing the guide books don't mention is there is a limit on the suitcases you can take on the train. For the trip to Aguas Calientes and up to Machu Picchu--PACK LIGHT. You may even consider leaving the bulk of your luggage back at the hotel in Cusco or Ollayntaytambo.

Overall it was worth it, but the nickel-and-diming and overall confusion with information would make me hesitate on doing a return trip. They've definitely figured out how to charge--for everything. They have that down to a science, but unfortunately service is often hit-and-miss. And bathrooms at Machu Picchu should definitely have been included in the general admission tickets.

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
29 Thank Mario R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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