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Every single travel destination that is equivalent to Machu Picchu’s status has been over saturated by tourists. Quite frankly, that can be off-putting. 

The enormous flow of people from all parts of the world visiting Machu Picchu and struggling to get the best angle for the best Instagram pictures would make others cry of frustration. 

A historical and archaeological gem like Machu Picchu needs to be preserved. Thankfully the ones who are responsible for safeguarding it have drummed up new rules for tourists, tour operators, and park rangers, alike. Although the rules may be challenging at times, they actually advocate a positive impact on the thousands of tourists who visit this wonder of the world. 

Those rules include a maximum of 4-hours the total time visitors can remain within this ancient  Incan city, a system of hourly different shifts to access Machu Picchu throughout the day; being the first one at 6 am and the last one at 3pm. each shift will have a maximum of 800 visitors. 

We have seen already a pattern amongst all tourists who visit Machu Picchu during the 2019 new year celebrations. For instance, most people choose the early morning shifts, while the afternoon shifts have a lesser demand.

Based on these observations, we have some recommendations on how to get the best out of your next trip to Machu Picchu in 2019. ​

 

1. Choose the SUNSET over the sunrise at Machu Picchu. 

There was a time when arriving at Machu Picchu to watch the sunrise was a once in a lifetime experience and a dream come true. Unfortunately nowadays to accomplish this, you must beat the masses by waking up at two or three in the morning to catch the shuttle bus. On top of it, you need to deal with the enormous crowds that gather at the bus station in the Aguas Calientes town and the main entrance of Machu Picchu. And by the way, neither of these options actually guarantees you a sighting of the Sunrise.  

60% of the visitors to Machu Picchu do it between 6 AM and 11 AM during the high season, while 70% do it during the low season. The remaining minority visits this wonder during the second shift between 12:00 PM and 5:30 PM. One of the reasons people choose to visit Machu Picchu during the morning hours corresponds to the train schedules. Most trains run from Cusco or Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes during the first half of the day and return in the afternoon.  

Choosing to visit Machu Picchu and wander around its beautiful streets in the afternoon will give you a unique chance to experience it without the crowds. The feeling of exploring Machu Picchu with no one around is hard to explain in words; you must go there and experience it. Meandering through the peaceful streets, you will grasp first hand the mystery of this ancient Incan city. 

Another plus to visiting Machu Picchu in the afternoon is the magnificent view that the sunset awards you with. Channel your inner Ansel Adams and bring Machu Picchu alive in your photos.  

2. The Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu “killing two birds with one stone.”  

The short Inca trail is a moderate day hike that leads to Machu Picchu via a 12 KM / 8 miles Incan road. The breathtaking views of the natural landscape, the rugged mountains and glaciers, the diversity of wildlife in this sanctuary and the ancient archaeological sites along the way are reasons enough to hike this trail. The short Inca Trail provides a unique chance to walk on the last stretch of the classic Inca trail before entering Machu Picchu via the Sungate.  

At the end of the day what the Short Inca trail really offers is the opportunity to visit the mystical Machu Picchu and its sunset views with fewer crowds and more peace of mind.  

 3. Escape the crowds and walk along the looping path that leads to the Huayna Picchu Mountain and the Sacred Cave.  

Looking for adventure? The hike to the Huayna Picchu Mountain is it. Hence why it requires you to make reservations to get a permit for this hike many months in advance. Most people walk the same path to climb to the top of Huayna Picchu Mountain and return the same way. Only 5 % of the people who go to Huayna Picchu end up completing the loop that includes the Sacred Cave which turns into the only off the beaten path hike in Machu Picchu.  

The hike is difficult, as you need to walk up to the top of the Huayna Picchu Mountain then down to the Sacred Cave and back up again toward Machu Picchu. Walking the whole loop takes about three and a half hours, and it requires a moderate level of fitness. If you can appreciate the solitude of this trek, you will be rewarded with views of the Urubamba River and the Cloud Forest of Machu Picchu. To get the best out of your Machu Picchu trip, start by hiking this trail in the 10:00 AM shift, exit Machu Picchu, then take a break and have lunch. You will get back to Machu Picchu by the afternoon. Why not purchase a full day ticket at least this way you have many opportunities to go in and out Machu Picchu. 

Is your goal to get to see the best view minus the crowds? Climbing the Machu Picchu Mountain will get you there. If you are up for a good physical challenge, or you simply missed out on getting a ticket to Huayna Picchu Mountain, then Machu Picchu Montaña is a great option to do both. The hike to the top of Machu Picchu Mountain is difficult, the climb lasts up to 2 hours, and the altitude gain is about 500 meters or 1500 feet. Every single step that you take up and down this mountain is worth the effort. The views of the Salkantay mountain, the Huayna Picchu Mountain, the Urubamba River, the Inca trail, etc. make this hike a MUST-DO when visiting Machu Picchu. 

4. The site museum is another MUST-VISIT. 

If the tour at Machu Picchu left you curious for more information about this wonder of the world, or you are just a history or archaeological buff, then the Manuel Chavez Ballon museum is something you must visit. You will discover archaeological items that were found in Machu Picchu since the arrival of Hiram Bingham in 1911. The site museum hosts a collection of 250 original objects amongst pottery, bones, tools and other artifacts that were found at Machu Picchu and along the Inca Trail.

Why not consider alternative Inca trail itineraries? Most tour-operating companies rely on their outdated itineraries of yore. Try going with a company that personalizes your tours while keeping up to date with all the latest regulations.​

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