Chances are you spent a lot of time, money, and effort getting to the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu. So why should you just spend a few hours exploring them?
Whether you’ve chosen to take the Cusco to Aguas Calientes train, or hike the Inca Trail (or take the less common Inca Jungle Trail), you’ll want to get the most out of your visit to this spectacular ancient site.
After all, it could be a once in a lifetime experience!
We recommend a night in Aguas Calientes (or two)
Last year when my husband Ashton and I were traveling to Peru, I was surprised to hear that there were day trips from Cusco to Machu Picchu.
My thoughts: You may not be able to do Machu Picchu in just a few hours. Instead, stay in the village of Aguas Calientes for two or three nights and visit Machu Picchu a few times, perhaps at different times of the day. Of course, you have to pay for each visit, but think about the costs you have already incurred to get there. Certainly a few extra sols are worth the great experience.
As a photography enthusiast, I like to plan my visits to places of worship based on the direction of sunlight and the time of day. In addition, I have learned through experience to give myself a lot of “leeway” for unpredictable events such as bad weather (such as rain or fog) or transport delays. Again, you spent a lot of money and energy getting there. So take the extra time.
By train to Aguas Calientes
We left Cusco early in the morning on the PeruRail VistaDome train to Aguas Calientes. After unloading our luggage at our hotel, where we had spent the night in Aguas Calientes, and had something to eat, we went straight to Machu Picchu for the rest of the afternoon. We were fortunate to have great weather and I was delighted to be there just before sunset for the “golden hour” of sunlight. Also, I was able to figure out where to sit the next morning to photograph Machu Picchu at sunrise.
The next morning we were again blessed with perfect weather. After clearing up the day before, we knew where to go to set up my tripod for this iconic shot of Machu Picchu. Granted, we could have opted for a guide, as many travelers do, but we prefer to wander around with our guides in our free time.
We even had time to rest on the grass in the central square, eat some granola bars, and play with the llamas.
When we left in the late afternoon, it felt like we had really explored Machu Picchu.
Hotels in Aguas Calientes
If you want to spend the night in Aguas Calientes, you will find accommodation here.