What to do –and what not to do- when you visit Machu Picchu
All visitors who travel to Peru –as well as all Peruvians- want to visit Machu Picchu, the most iconic vestige of the great civilization of the Incas, and South America’s most important travel destination. But, once you’ve managed to hike the Inca Trail or taken a train to Machu Picchu, what should you do when you get there? And what are the things you shouldn’t do? Check out some of our travel professional’s tips below:
What should I bring to Machu Picchu? First, make sure you take your passport with you. You can’t get into Machu Picchu without the identity document you used when you bought your entrance ticket. You’ll also need some cash in local Peruvian currency, so you can use the restroom facilities, buy some souvenirs, and maybe eat lunch at the restaurant (although this can be an expensive option, and you might prefer to eat before or after your visit in the town of Aguas Calientes). Also, be sure to take your camera. You can take along a selfie stick too, but remember that tripods are not allowed in the ruins, because they can damage the stonework. And, as far as personal gear is concerned, you’ll need good walking shoes or boots, water, insect repellent, and sunscreen. Make sure you pack a hat too!
What should I NOT bring to Machu Picchu? First, remember not to pack that tripod we mentioned earlier, you won’t be allowed to use it and it’ll just end up in one of the visitor lockers outside the entrance. Professional camera equipment is also not allowed. Permits for professional camera gear are expensive, so avoid taking equipment that looks too professional if you want to save money. Also, you can’t enter Machu Picchu with your traveling backpack. Only small daypacks are allowed inside the ruins, and so if you are carrying anything larger, leave your gear in Aguas Calientes, where some hotels will store luggage for a small charge even if you’re not a guest. Walking poles and walking sticks (unless they are essential for an individual’s mobility) are also not allowed within the archaeological complex, to prevent damage to the Inca stonework. And, although it can rain at Machu Picchu, particularly during the rainy season, don’t try to take a big umbrella into the ruins. Only small, foldable umbrellas are allowed, or you can take a rain jacket or rain poncho.
Finally, if you choose to visit Machu Picchu with a local Cusco tour operator, make sure they are officially registered and that they have the certificates needed to operate Machu Picchu or Inca Trail itineraries, which are issued by the Cusco regional government and regional tourist board.