Machu Picchu vacation; one or two days at Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu vacation; one or two days at Machu Picchu?

A question that often pops up when people are looking to travel to Machu Picchu is whether one would need one or two days to see Machu Picchu. This is something that depends from person to person based on their interest in historical sites, it can be said that for the central and lower parts of Machu Picchu a full day may be sufficient to discover this part of Machu Picchu.

The central part of Machu Picchu includes the agricultural sector with the large Andean terracing, the Urban sector divided into the popular district and the sacred district for the nobles. The agricultural part is the part that is located at the modern entrance of Machu Picchu and is mainly made up out of large terraces and some small constructions. The urban part is probably the most elaborated part of all Machu Picchu sectors and holds most of the many famous structures within the site. These structures, such as the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun and the Room of the Three Windows are all located here close to each other. Also found in this sector is the temple of the Condor and some of the best examples of Inca plumbing, as here you can see how the Inca were able to provide the whole site with running water through a large system of canals alimented by the water coming from the mountains.

This is the part of Machu Picchu that most guided tours will cover and take about 2-2.5 hours to complete. After this most people take their time to have a small picnic on one of the grass fields after which some additional exploration can be done, for instance in the lower parts of the Urban Sector, here one can find the views on the below valley which are nothing less than breathtaking. One can also use the rest of this afternoon to hike towards the Sun Gate for some views of Machu Picchu from higher grounds. In any case this aw-inspiring site will make that this first day at Machu Picchu will fly by without a doubt.

So the question remains; would I need an additional day at Machu Picchu in order to explore and experience the site to the fullest?

Again this all depends on your personal interest for Machu Picchu, its construction and surroundings. One thing to keep in mind when planning the number of days is whether you would like to discover Huayna Picchu, or Machu Picchu Mountain for the views from above. Huayna Picchu Mountain is the mountain located behind Machu Picchu when entering the site. The climb takes about 1.5 hours and is relatively steep (good shoes are recommended) but the views from above are quite rewarding. The peak is quite high making that the views from this side allow you to fully appreciate the magnitude of the site.

Machu Picchu Mountain is the mountain located on the other far side of the site, where the Inca Trail passes through the Sun Gate. Machu Picchu Mountain is less visited and the climb is longer but less steep. From here the views are one of the best to take pictures as you can see the site from a familiar angle but a little higher and still capture the towering Huayna Picchu Mountain on the other side. As this part of the site is less visited it is also much more tranquil to spend some time enjoying the views.

Since last year (2011) both mountains started charging an entrance fee and limit the number of people that are allowed to 400 daily. For Huayna Picchu it is also established that visitors can only go up in the morning in two fixed groups; one at 7AM and one at 10AM. The entrance tickets for these mountains are sold together with the entrance tickets. Note that one can only choose one of the two mountains. The Huayna Picchu climb sells out almost every day and is the most popular of the two; nevertheless due to the popularity of Huayna Picchu Mountain, we feel that Machu Picchu Mountain has maybe even more to offer; the walk is less crowded, the views equally or more impressive and this part of Machu Picchu is amazingly lesser known.

As these climbs take quite some time and are only accessible in the morning, you will need a second day at Machu Picchu in order to do one of these hikes and enjoy the spectacle from above. In case you would be fine with seeing the lower located parts of the site, you may have sufficient with a one day Machu Picchu visit. Machu Picchu vacation; one or two days at Machu Picchu?

A question that often pops up when people are looking to travel to Machu Picchu is whether one would need one or two days to see Machu Picchu. This is something that depends from person to person based on their interest in historical sites, it can be said that for the central and lower parts of Machu Picchu a full day may be sufficient to discover this part of Machu Picchu.

The central part of Machu Picchu includes the agricultural sector with the large Andean terracing, the Urban sector divided into the popular district and the sacred district for the nobles. The agricultural part is the part that is located at the modern entrance of Machu Picchu and is mainly made up out of large terraces and some small constructions. The urban part is probably the most elaborated part of all Machu Picchu sectors and holds most of the many famous structures within the site. These structures, such as the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun and the Room of the Three Windows are all located here close to each other. Also found in this sector is the temple of the Condor and some of the best examples of Inca plumbing, as here you can see how the Inca were able to provide the whole site with running water through a large system of canals alimented by the water coming from the mountains.

This is the part of Machu Picchu that most guided tours will cover and take about 2-2.5 hours to complete. After this most people take their time to have a small picnic on one of the grass fields after which some additional exploration can be done, for instance in the lower parts of the Urban Sector, here one can find the views on the below valley which are nothing less than breathtaking. One can also use the rest of this afternoon to hike towards the Sun Gate for some views of Machu Picchu from higher grounds. In any case this aw-inspiring site will make that this first day at Machu Picchu will fly by without a doubt.

So the question remains; would I need an additional day at Machu Picchu in order to explore and experience the site to the fullest?

Again this all depends on your personal interest for Machu Picchu, its construction and surroundings. One thing to keep in mind when planning the number of days is whether you would like to discover Huayna Picchu, or Machu Picchu Mountain for the views from above. Huayna Picchu Mountain is the mountain located behind Machu Picchu when entering the site. The climb takes about 1.5 hours and is relatively steep (good shoes are recommended) but the views from above are quite rewarding. The peak is quite high making that the views from this side allow you to fully appreciate the magnitude of the site.

Machu Picchu Mountain is the mountain located on the other far side of the site, where the Inca Trail passes through the Sun Gate. Machu Picchu Mountain is less visited and the climb is longer but less steep. From here the views are one of the best to take pictures as you can see the site from a familiar angle but a little higher and still capture the towering Huayna Picchu Mountain on the other side. As this part of the site is less visited it is also much more tranquil to spend some time enjoying the views.

Since last year (2011) both mountains started charging an entrance fee and limit the number of people that are allowed to 400 daily. For Huayna Picchu it is also established that visitors can only go up in the morning in two fixed groups; one at 7AM and one at 10AM. The entrance tickets for these mountains are sold together with the entrance tickets. Note that one can only choose one of the two mountains. The Huayna Picchu climb sells out almost every day and is the most popular of the two; nevertheless due to the popularity of Huayna Picchu Mountain, we feel that Machu Picchu Mountain has maybe even more to offer; the walk is less crowded, the views equally or more impressive and this part of Machu Picchu is amazingly lesser known.

As these climbs take quite some time and are only accessible in the morning, you will need a second day at Machu Picchu in order to do one of these hikes and enjoy the spectacle from above. In case you would be fine with seeing the lower located parts of the site, you may have sufficient with a one day Machu Picchu visit. 


 

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