Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Machu Picchu?
Machu Picchu is located in the Cusco Region of Peru. It is a half-hour bus ride from the nearest town, Aguas Calientes, and a four-hour train ride from Cusco, the nearest major city. All travelers who want to visit Machu Picchu pass through Cusco.
How do I get to Machu Picchu?
The most popular way of getting to Machu Picchu is by train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, which takes about four hours. From Aguas Calientes, you then take a 30-minute bus ride up to Machu Picchu. If you would like to go by train, we suggest you go to Aguas Calientes the night before and stay there for the night. Then, you can wake up early and take one of the first buses that begin to depart at 5:30am so that you can arrive when there are less other visitors.
The second option for getting to Machu Picchu is to hike there. There are many hikes that lead to the site, but the most popular ones are the Inca Trail, the Salkantay Hike and the Lares Hike. History and nature lovers will not want to miss the experience of hiking on the same trails that the Incas traveled on hundreds of years ago.
Another option we offer for those who want to tour the Sacred Valley as well, is to do our 2-Day Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu Package. For this option, the first day you get to tour the most important Inca sites in the Sacred Valley which includes Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Then we take the train to Aguas Calientes and spend the night in a hotel so that the next day we can get up early and take the bus up to Machu Picchu.
When is the best time to visit Peru?
The high tourist season in Peru is April to September. This is also the dry season, when hiking is great because there is a very low chance of rain. Nevertheless, some people prefer to visit Peru in the low season, from October to March, because there are significantly fewer tourists in the city and at the tourist sites. Also, during the rainy season, the mountains and valleys around Cusco are green and lush. If you are planning to do a hike to Machu Picchu, it is generally better to try to go during the dry season, however, we have many groups that go during the rainy season and still have an amazing experience. We offer all of our hikes year round and the archaeological sites are open throughout the year, with the exception of when the Inca Trail closes in February for maintenance.
Is the city spelled Cusco or Cuzco?
In the United States and Europe, many people spell this city with a “z,” like “Cuzco.” Locally, we spell the city with an “s,” like “Cusco.” This is why Cusi Travel spells Cusco with an “s” and why the city is spelled that way on all local maps and official government documents. Interestingly, the original spelling is “Qosqo” in the indigenous language, Quechua. In Quechua, “Qosqo” means belly button. The Incas named the city “belly button” because it was the center of the Inca Empire, and at that time it was thought to be aligned with the equator.
Should I get traveler’s insurance to travel to Peru?
We highly recommend booking traveler’s insurance for your trip. If you will be doing a hike or other adventure activities, we recommend making sure that your traveler’s insurance covers these adventure activities.
What is the weather like in Peru?
Because of the geographical properties of the mountains, the weather in the Andes is very unpredictable. The weather here is known for short showers, followed by sunshine, followed by thunderstorms. The rainy season lasts from October to March, so if you plan to travel within those months, make sure you bring a rain jacket or poncho. If you will be traveling between April and September, the chance of rain is lower, but bring some light rain gear just in case. The Cusco region is generally hot during the day and cold at night. In the summer, between November and March, it can be in the mid 80s during the day and drop to around 50 degrees at night. In the winter, between March and November, it can reach up to the mid 70s and then drop as low as the 30s at night. The weather at night varies significantly depending on altitude. At Cusi Travel, we provide you with warm NorthFace tents to sleep in during camping trips, but in any case, be sure to bring a fleece and long underwear for the nighttime. For more information about what clothing to bring on your trip to Cusco, please click here.
Why are the tours in Peru so expensive?
At Cusi Travel, we like our travelers to understand that a large part of what you pay to travel with us goes to not only operating the tour, but to fees that are out of our control, including the Machu Picchu park fees and train fees. When you make your deposit with us for a hike, for example, that money goes to paying the entrance fee to the trail, entrance fee to Machu Picchu, the hotel in Aguas Calientes (if applicable) and the train ticket from Aguas Calientes to Cusco. These prices are out of our control. Between these external fees, as well as buying food to prepare, paying the guide, Quechuas and cooks, operating a tour is very expensive. There are some tour operators that offer cheaper services, but these operators cut corners wherever possible – including paying their porters and staff below minimum wage.