Machu Picchu was an amazingly, indescribably, breathtakingly fantastic experience. And not only because it is one of the wonders of the world, not even because it is a beautiful spot, full of energy and not for being so remote and adventurous to reach…
No, the magic was caused by all of these things together and much more. And this turned the place into the perfect spot to celebrate Werners´ birthday.
- For example, just imagining how people over 600 years ago could build something in this environment in the middle of the Andes, on slopes so steep, that you even catch your breath walking around.
- It was also fascinating, that unlike many other Inca sites, this place is basically in its original shape. Machu Picchu was not discovered until the beginning of the 20th Century, so the invading Spanish colonizers could not destroy it.
- And if you climb one of the higher peaks around the Machu Picchu, like the Huayna Picchu or the Intipunku (Sun gate) you get rewarded by a gorgeous view. Plus you can feel really proud, as these points are pretty high… :)
When to go to Machu Picchu
If you visit Machu Picchu outside of the main season (May-July) like we did, you might encounter that sometimes the Sun is disappearing behind the clouds and from time to time there are a few – or even more – drops of rain and fog passes over the site. But on the positive side there are much less visitors. This also means that if you take your time and spend a whole day at the site, you will have time periods when you have relatively few people around. Then it feels like the place belongs to you.
You can’t get lost on the way to Machu Picchu
Although at the beginning we felt like organizing the trip here would be impossible without an agency, in the end it turned out to be a rather easy exercise – at least off-season.
- The only way to get to Aguas Calientes, the basecamp for Machu Picchu (beside a 4-day hike) – is on a train from Cusco or Ollantaytambo.
- In Aguas Calientes you have to take a transfer bus that takes you uphill in 25 minutes to the entrance. (again, you have the alternative to climb a steep staircase for about 1,5 hours)
- Before you get on the bus you need to have an entrance ticket to Machu Picchu archaeological park (and your passport for identification).
The train ticket and the entrance tickets are available online, or can be purchased in Cusco and in Ollantaytambo. The bus ticket is sold in Aguas Calientes at the bus station. All is very well organized.
Aguas Calientes – basecamp to Machu Picchu
We were warned about the pure touristic setup of the small town beneath Machu Picchu – called Aguas Calientes. This is the only place from where you can go up to the Citadel – so you can hardly avoid going there. But we were positively surprised how friendly and professional the service was in all the cafés, restaurants and shops we visited there – and how smooth and well organized the transport to the hilltop worked.
Cusco and the Sacred Valley
The way to Machu Picchu is already a great preparation for this magical Inca site. Cusco is the cultural and historical capital of Peru and represents the blending of the Inca and Hispanic cultures. The Sacred Valley – running between the impressive hills of the Andes along the Urubamba river – is also a gold mine for lovers of culture and history. It is packed with mighty Inca citadels, beautiful churches and pretty markets embedded in a marvellous landscape.
You can see some more details in our post : 5 magic spots in the sacred valley of the Incas
This is definitely a dram trip and perfect for a birthday, maybe we will do it for my hubby’s 60th in a couple of years. Great photos! I love the idea of taking the train.
Hi Andi, thanks, happy you like the pictures. Machu Picchu is a great spot for a birthday – and for such a round one it would be super-special!!! Hope you manage and have fun :)
Machu Picchu is on my travel bucket list too! I’m excited to explore it someday seeing how beautiful it is from your photos!
Hi, happy you like the photos. I hope you get to Machu Picchu soon!
But also take a look at the surroundings, the Sacred Valley. There are amazing places. :)
Such beautiful pictures. Your birthday trip looks so amazing. I’m going to Machu Picchu next year and this makes me even more excited!!
Thank you, Lauren! Make sure you also have enough time for the surroundings. The Sacred Valley and Cusco are just amazing.
I’ve always wanted to go to Machu Picchu! We’re hoping to make it there in the next couple of years. I’m happy to hear that it’s all well organized and easy to get there. I was worried that it would be a lot harder to figure out tickets and trains. Belated birthday wishes!
Thanks for the kind wishes, Sam! Machu Picchu is really-really worth it. And yes, it is well organized, but it makes sense to make a couple of things up front. Book train and entrance tickets, etc. We will be putting together a short checklist with links in the next couple of days.
Oh. My. Goodness! What an awesome way to celebrate a birthday!! Machu Picchu is super high on my bucket list!! Loving all these pictures and tips. Thank you! Glad you joined in for #TravelTuesday!!
Hi Melanie, isn`t it just wonderful?!? Happy you like the photos, and thanks for the #TravelTuesday opportunity. :)
Birthdays at amazing travel destinations is the best way to do them – and this does look like a once-in-a-lifetime experience! What great photos.
Thanks, Anne! It was definitely an amazing spot to celebrate :)
You don’t get to explore world’s wonder on your birthdays like that; so has to be super special for sure! The pictures look really good and this has excited me to no ends to plan a visit to Machu Pichu.
Yes, this was a very special one – wish we could spend every birthday at one of the wonders of the world… :D
We are really happy you like the pics and even more happy if we can inspire you to visit this special place.
Yeay happy birthday! Obviously you had a great birthday! Machu picchu is a great place for anyone to celebrate their birthday. I wish I could be there on my birthday next year!
Thanks to you, Filla! Machu Picchu is a great place even without a birthday :D
We keep our fingers crossed for you that you can visit it next year!
Machu Picchu is amazing, no doubt that this site deserve to be in wonders of the world. Your pictures are really good. Could you share the name of the camera you use?
Thanks a lot, we are happy you like the pictures. We are taking pictures with a Canon D70 – and are quite happy with it. :)
A fabulous place to celebrate a birthday. I’ve yet to make the trip to Peru but it’s definitely on my wishlist. I’d love to photograph sunrise here.
It is, yes. But if you want to photograph a beautiful sunrise, you have to make sure you go in the high season (May-August). Apparently then you have more chances for a blue sky. During our visit the weather changed quite a lot, even within the day. The mornings were not that sunny… Good luck :)
What a wonderful way to spend your birthday! Can agree it is a once in a life time opportunity. I can see you had a great time!
Oh, we had an amazing time! But even without a birthday it would have been a perfect day… :D
This is some real good information. I have added Machine Picchu to my travel destination. And also the pictures are amazing.
Happy you like the pictures and we could help in adding something to your bucket list ;)
1. Noch nachgetragen zu Eurem Bolivien-Bericht: Besonders beeindruckt haben uns die Fotos von der Laguna Miniques. Júlias graziöser Schreittanzschritt (Rückenansicht) auf dem Salz ist bei uns seit Tagen ein wunderbarer Bildschirmhintergrund.
2. Auch Machu Picchu wird in seinen Dimensionen gut sichtbar. Eure einschlägigen Reiseratschläge werden wir in unserem nächsten Leben unbedingt beherzigen.
3. Viel Glück und Erfolg fürs Kommende.
Liebe Christa und Mani,
vielen Dank für die netten Zeilen. Die Lagune war wirklich-wirklich wunderschön. Und auch ganz vielen lieben Dank dass Ihr unsere Reisen mitverfolgt.
Alles Liebe und wir wünschen Euch gute Gesundheit! Julia & Werner
Very best belated birthday wishes Werner! Looks like a spectacular place to celebrate :-)
Hope the rest of your South American travels are also wonderful,
love and kisses to you both,
Karen and Jim
Dear Karen, Dear Jim,
thank you for the brithday wishes!! You’re right it is a very special place to celebrate and we enjoyed it pretty much.
And the good thing is, that around us are lots of other very nice and spectecular destinations, too :-)
Best regards, Werner