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Machu Picchu & The Inca Trail Planner

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Machu Picchu & The Inca Trail Planner

When to Go

All the high-season / low-season trade-offs are here. Winter (June through August) means drier weather and easier traveling. But it is prime vocation time for those in the northern hemisphere. Don't forget that three major observances - Inti Raymi (June 24), Peru is Independence day (july 28), and Santa Rosa (August 30)-fall during this time, and translate into exceptionally heavy crowds of Peruvian Travelers. The result is higher winter lodging prices and larger crowds. Prices and visitor numbers drop dramatically during the summer rainy season (October through Aprill).


For near-ideal weather and manageable crowds, consider a spring or fall trip. In January and February the weather could most likely wreak havoc with your travel  plans. But it is also the time when you can enjoy Machu Picchu without the crowds. Mudsildes are an occasional problem when visiting during the October - Aprill rainy season. It is rare, but visitors have been stranded at Machu Picchu or between Aguas Calientes and Cusco if the sildes block the way, but usually only very briefly.


Health & Safety

Altitude: Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail are a breath-catching 300-700 meters (980-2300 feet) lower than Cusco. But to be on the safe side about altitude effects, locally known as soroche; get an ample intake of fluids, but eliminate or minimize alcohol and caffeine consumption. (Both can cause dehydration, already a problem, at high altitudes) Smoking aggravates the problem. Some large hotels have an oxygen supply for their guests' use. The prescription drug acetazalamide can help offset the alkalosis caused by low oxygen at high elevations.


Water: Tap water is generally not safe to drink. Stick with the boltled variety, con gas (carbonated) or sin gas (plain). The San Luis brand is for sale everywhere.


Crime: Aguas calientes employs a cadre of tourist police, decked out in baseball caps and white or blue shirts that say TOURIST SECURITY MACHU PICCHU.


Getting around

It is easy train ride from Poroy or Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu, most visitors board the train in Ollantaytambo, however-or on foot along the famed Inca Trail to reach the remains of Machu Picchu. For information about seeing the region with tour operator. Machu Picchu by Train Tour. You cannot drive here.


By Train: Unless you are doing the long hike, a train is how you´ll get to Machu Picchu. The vistadome and Expeditions trains leave from Poroy and Ollantaytambo train station. They make stops at km 88 (the start of the 4 Day Classic Inca Trail), and km 104 (the launch point of an abbreviated two-day Inca Trail). The luxury Hiram Bingham leaves from Poroy, some 15 minutes from Cusco.


Restaurants & Hotels

The town of Aguas Calientes near Machu Picchu has numerous restaurants (although the menus don't vary much) and the employees will do everything they can to entice you to eat in their establishments. Lunch is served between 13:00 and 15:00, the busiest time for restaurants here. Dinner begins around 19:00, and most places do stay open in the afternoon if you wish to dine outside these hours.


A few in-town lodgings line the railroad tracks-that's not as down-at-the-heels as it first sounds: the tracks are one of two main streets in Aguas Calientes. Those hostelries have rooms facing the Vilcanota River. Aguas calientes budget lodgings are utilitarian places to lay your head, with a bed, a table, a bathroom, and little else. A handful of hotels offer surprising luxury for such an isolated location. Their rates can be shockingly luxurious,too.


The big four lodgings here (Sanctuary lodge, Inkaterra, Sumaq, and Hatuchay Tower) meet their guests on the rail platforms-look for their signs when you get off the train-and deliver your luggage right to your departure, too, but reconfirm this; the train might pull out with you, minus your bags) Smaller hotels usually meet guests with advance reservations just outside the train station.


Lodgings keep surprisingly early checkout times. (Hotels free up the rooms for mid-morning Cusco-Machu Picchu trains) Expect to vacate by 8 or 9 AM, though this is less strictly enforcet in the off-season. All hotels will hold your luggage if you are not leaving town until later in the day.


Most hotels keep the same official rates year-round but unoffcially discount rates during the off-season oh mid-september through May.


Machu Picchu Overnight

Many travelers associate the terms Day Trip with Machu Picchu, but an overnight at Machu Picchu (in Aguas Calientes, the town below the site) lets you explore long after the day-trippers have left the mountain and you can climb up to Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain, and head back up early the next morning, an especially tranquil time before the midday heat and next round of visitors appear.


Crowded house

It took the outside world almost four centuries to discover the existence of Machu Picchu, the fabled lost city of the Inca after a visit to the ruins during the June-August world is determined to make up for lost time.


On a high-season weekend, Machu Picchu might host in excess of 3000 visitors a day. By September, daily totals fall to 1500 visitors, and a typical February day. In the lowest of the low season, sees a relatively paltry 1000 people pass through the entry turnstiles.


A current plan would cap numbers at 2500 visitors per day. The Ministerio de Cultura, which oversees Machu Picchu, is searching for ways to spread the numbers out more evenly over the year. Incentives may be offered for comnig during the off-season.

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