Machu Picchu
Check it off your life list. (Pawel Cibo/Shutterstock)

The Top Tips for Machu Picchu Visitors

I’m saving up for my dream trip to Machu Picchu. What tips would you give to a first-time visitor?

Machu Picchu
Greg Melville

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Machu Picchu has definitely become a victim of its own beauty. With the crowds of visitors who come to tick it off their bucket lists, getting an unspoiled view of the ancient ruins is becoming harder, though not impossible. Start by planning your trip for the shoulder seasons—early April or late October—when Machu Picchu hits a sweet spot of small crowds and relatively clear weather. Beyond that, follow these basic steps and you’ll be on the right path.

Machu Picchu Tips: Hike the Inca Trail

Inca Trai Machu Picchu
Hiking the Inca Trail. (Vladimir Korostyshevskiy/Shutterstock)

The rugged four-day walk along an Inca footpath to Machu Picchu will unveil as many memorable sights and experiences as the ancient city itself. Because you need a permit for the hike, the crowds aren’t bad, and you’ll see additional ruins as you walk through the cloud forest along the way. Adventure Life guides trips starting at $1,645. Make sure to pack bug spray, sunscreen, and a headlamp.

Machu Picchu Tips: Arrive at Sunrise

machu picchu
Machu Picchu at sunrise. (Matt Tilghman/Shutterstock)

If you hike, you’ll arrive at Machu Picchu on the afternoon of the fourth day. But you should save your explorations for the next morning, for two reasons. The first is that watching the veil of sunlight wrapping around the ancient ruins in the morning is an experience of a lifetime. And second, like at Disneyworld, the earlier you get there, the more you’ll see before the camera-toting hordes become impossible.

Machu Picchu Tips: Drink Coca Tea

coca tea herbal tea
Coca tea (Ildi Papp/Shutterstock)

Except for a lucky few, most visitors to Machu Picchu experience at least mild altitude sickness. The traditional remedy for the ailment is coca leaf tea. It’s safe and won’t get you high, but don’t bring any back to the States: coca is a controlled substance in the U.S.

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