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What I Wish I Knew Before Hiking to Machu Picchu

Jane
September 1, 2023
Ireland

Machu Picchu stands as an impressive testament to Inca ingenuity. Its structures reflect astonishing knowledge in terms of both geography and astronomy.

Weather in higher altitudes can be unpredictable and fluctuate rapidly, so to stay prepared for all eventualities, pack an array of clothing.

If you have the ability, climbing Huayna Picchu for its incredible views of Machu Picchu's citadel could be one of the highlights of your travels - but make sure that you are well trained before undertaking this journey!

1. Don’t be afraid of heights

As part of your hike to Machu Picchu, it's crucial not to be intimidated by heights. After all, you will be climbing steep steps that could potentially become dangerous after it rains - any slipperiness could lead to serious falls that could prove fatal.

To combat this, it's recommended that you practice climbing stairs for at least a month or two prior to any trip. Furthermore, it may help if you refrain from looking down while hiking; doing so can increase your anxiety level and cause panic attacks; rather, focus on breathing deeply and looking ahead.

2. Don’t be afraid of rain

Machu Picchu lies between mountain and jungle, so rain is often present - anytime of the year! So make sure that your waterproof gear is up-to-date.

Wake up early and head down to the Sun Gate for sunrise. An impressively long line often forms, waiting patiently to gain entry and experience this unique viewpoint.

If you're hoping to avoid long lines when hiking, September and October can be great months; weather remains warm while rainfall intensity tends to be less extreme.

3. Don’t be afraid of altitude

Machu Picchu may be iconic, yet still presents a daunting hiking challenge. The path leads to steep granite steps that offer breathtaking vistas, yet for those suffering altitude sickness it may quickly turn into a nightmare experience.

But the rewards more than make up for the effort. Reaching the summit of this UNESCO World Heritage Site provides a sense of pride and accomplishment - something even Peruvians themselves have developed antidotes and physiological traits to overcome altitude sickness - something to admire and respect!

4. Don’t be afraid of mosquitoes

Machu Picchu ruins are situated within a tropical rain forest wildlife reserve that contains both venomous and nonvenomous snake species.

Machu Picchu's popular Inca Trail hike fills up quickly, as does its entrance time per day. To secure early entrance, plan on rising before dawn - it will make all the difference in terms of arriving on time at this ancient citadel! Just be prepared that there may be long lines at bus terminals!

5. Don’t be afraid of spiders

On day four of the Inca Trail trek, hikers must wake early and head out early in order to catch sight of Machu Picchu at sunrise through Sun Gate. This moderate hike tends to attract more travelers.

UNESCO World Heritage Site and ancient citadel, Machu Picchu is truly breathtaking; however, it can be daunting for some. Therefore, to get the best experience out of this trek it's essential that you develop strength and stamina prior to beginning; that way your focus won't be interrupted by nerves.

Machu Picchu
When you embark on a journey to explore the mesmerizing landscapes of Machu Picchu, one thing to keep in mind is that you'll encounter all four seasons in a single day.
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Machu Picchu stands as an impressive testament to Inca ingenuity.

6. Don’t be afraid of llamas

Llamas are an integral part of Peruvian culture and were employed by the Inca empire as pack animals during their conquest of South America. Not only are llamas useful, they are also adorable creatures you'll spot all around Machu Picchu!

Arriving early will enable you to avoid crowds and fully appreciate the ruins without interruption or distraction - and will certainly be worth your extra efforts!

On day four of your journey along the Inca Trail, you'll rise early and travel towards Sun Gate for sunrise views of Machu Picchu.

7. Don’t be afraid of dogs

Machu Picchu can be reached in many ways, with train travel and Classic Inca Trail hike being among the most popular choices for travellers. Unfortunately, however, doing this often means spending some of one's hard-earned travel funds.

Booking this trek months in advance, particularly during high season, will help to ensure a more relaxing journey and minimize crowds. Pumas once roamed this region but are now very rare and only attack when provoked.

8. Don’t be afraid of mud

Machu Picchu is one of the world's premier hiking destinations, yet not for everyone. The steep and slippery stone ruins clinging to mountain sides are not suitable for those suffering from height-phobia or acrophobia.

Traveling by train to Machu Picchu can be thrilling, but for an unparalleled hiking experience, take the Machu Picchu Mountain Trail instead. While its steep granite steps may make the hike challenging, at the top of which lies an amazing 360-degree panorama of Machu Picchu that promises an incredible panorama view. Move at your own pace and appreciate this unique landscape!

9. Don’t be afraid of mosquitoes

Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail are two of the world's most iconic natural and cultural wonders, inciting wanderlust and inspiring thousands to set out on adventures every year.

Hikers who want to experience Machu Picchu without crowds should arrive as early as possible at its gates, such as before dawn and trekking down from Aguas Calientes for the first bus from Aguas Calientes - it will pay off being among the first through its gates! Plus, here you can also have your passport stamped!

10. Don’t be afraid of altitude

Hikers often experience an overwhelming sense of pride upon reaching the peak of Machu Picchu Mountain, yet it is important to keep in mind that hiking at such altitude is hard on the body.

Altitude sickness can be prevented by taking measures such as taking Diamox or drinking coca tea, and regularly exercising at least twice per week for at least a month prior to your trek - this will increase both stamina and endurance for the trek.

When you embark on a journey to explore the mesmerizing landscapes of Machu Picchu, one thing to keep in mind is that you'll encounter all four seasons in a single day. As you ascend in altitude, the temperatures can vary drastically, making it crucial to be prepared for any weather conditions. Here's how to dress and pack for this diverse climate:

  1. Layer Up for All Occasions: As you move from chilly mornings to scorching afternoons, the key to comfort is layering. Start with thermal base layers to keep warm during cold nights. If you're in Cusco, you can easily find Alpaca gloves and a hat from street stalls, ensuring you're prepared for the cold.
  2. T-Shirts for the Day: Pack t-shirts that can be worn over your base layers. These will come in handy as you start your day, and the temperature begins to rise.
  3. Stay Warm with a Fleece and Rain Jacket: In the Andes, wind and rain can be unpredictable. To shield yourself from the elements, bring along a fleece and a reliable rain jacket.
  4. Prepare for Sun Exposure: As the day progresses and you emerge from the shade into the high-altitude sunshine, you'll likely find yourself shedding layers. It's at this point that sun protection becomes essential. Don't forget to apply sunscreen with a high SPF – the sun's rays are stronger at higher altitudes, and you want to avoid getting sunburned. Additionally, a sunhat will provide extra protection.

Remember, when you're finally at Machu Picchu, the last thing you want is to be dealing with sunburn or discomfort. By following these tips and dressing in layers, you'll be well-prepared to fully enjoy your journey through the diverse and stunning landscapes of this iconic destination, whether you're taking in the breathtaking views or posing with the llamas that call this place home.

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