Machu Picchu is incredibly beautiful with its luscious green mountain peaks and serene views of Incan ruins, but there are some surprising facts you might not know that could both positively or negatively impact your visit to the site.
1. Machu Picchu means “Old Mountain”
It’s a Quechua phrase that directly translates to “Old Mountain.” Machu= Old, Picchu= Mountain. Quechua is one of the indigenous languages from the time of the ancient Inca that is still spoken in the area today along with Spanish which was introduced to Peru when the Spaniards colonized the country.
2. You must bring your passport
To enter the Machu Picchu site, you MUST have your passport with you. It’d be a huge shame having purchased your tickets, and gotten to the entrance of the site only to find out you cannot enter without your passport.
Another incentive for you to remember your passport is a passport stamp stand that allows for you to get a Machu Picchu stamp unique to the site, just another fun memento for you to take back home!
3. There are no bathrooms within the site
Bathrooms are only located at the entrance/exit area of the site and cost 2 Peruvian soles to use. You could be spending as long as 4-5 hours hiking around and exploring the ancient citadel so be cautious about what you drink before entering the site and during your time inside, you do not want to have to end your visit to this magical place early because of an easily avoidable restroom trip. With that being said, please do not completely forego bringing a drink, because of the amount of time you may be touring the site, the altitude, the intense strength of the sun, and the high heat (during parts of the year) there is a greater risk of dehydration.
4. It’s located within a tropical cloud forest
The fact that Machu Picchu is located within a tropical cloud forest plays into the vibrant green hues that have become so recognizable of the mountains there.
The flora and fauna are abundant and quite unique in the area being home to many different species of orchids, butterflies, and birds.
5. It rains, a lot
During the rainy season and even during the dry season, it can rain a lot at the site. The mountains around Machu Picchu are so high that clouds and moisture can get trapped in between causing it to rain often. This can also lead to some hazy, cloudy days there, so, if you happen to visit on a blue sky sunny day, consider yourself blessed!
6. There will be bugs
Mostly, insanely defiant and utterly relentless mosquitoes will give you the greatest trouble. The only place that you need to really worry about these annoying buggers is if you hike up to the Sungate. Located higher than the main complex and surrounded by more vegetation, the mosquitoes thrive. If journeying up to the sun gate is in your plans, be sure to bring along good quality bug repellent wipes and keep reapplying because these are some of the most ruthless mosquitoes you might encounter.
Do be careful, the itchy bites from these guys seem to last extra long. It’s good to note that mosquitoes are also attracted to darker colors, so try to wear lighter or brighter clothing. Also, keep in mind that this is a jungle and you might come across insects you are unfamiliar with, like a black millipede with red legs, yikes!
7. There can be snow
Okay, okay, so maybe the snow isn’t exactly close enough for you to touch but if you are lucky enough to visit on a clear day you can possibly see snow covered mountain peaks in the distance.
Even when it is extremely hot and humid, some of the mountains in the area will keep their snow caps.
8. You can spend a night at the top
Yes, you really can indulge in a luxury stay at the ancient citadel for a night, or more! As intriguing as it might sound, spending the night at the top of Machu Picchu comes at a pretty penny. At a cool $1000+ a night, most people will not be able to afford a stay at Belmond’s Sanctuary Lodge. What might be much more accessible to enjoy is the Machu Picchu Snack Bar where you can grab a drink, snack, and relax before taking the bus back down to Aguas Calientes.
9. Only 500 people lived there
The site was built for only 500 people, yes ONLY 500! 300 of these people were workers and the other 200 were royals and the families of royals. This number is a bit of a surprise since today, there is a maximum of 7,000 visitors daily. That is a huge increase in foot traffic and many more people than the site was originally designed to support.
10. There will be lots of people
Seeing how there can be up to 7,000 visitors daily, the site can feel crowded at times. There are several times slot during the day but going in the morning is probably best – you can wake up extra early, catch one of the first buses up to the site, and be in line allowing you to be one of the first people to enter the site that day.
Not to mention, viewing the sun rising up over the mountains is a site that cannot be beat! Visiting Machu Picchu with Travendly’s Peru trip is definitely the best way as they provide you with a knowledgeable local guide who knows all great spots to avoid the crowds and get the best photos.
Cassandra has her bachelor’s degree in Art and her master’s in Interior Architecture. When she is not pursuing her dreams of creating beautiful interior’s she is busy traveling, cooking, and writing for her new food and travel website CassieEatWorld. Recently, she’s decided to visit every wonder of the world!