This Summer my Bucket list became smaller by visiting Machu Picchu, which I consider to be one of the most mystical and magical places on Earth. If you can, make an effort to buy the 6 a.m ticket you will take such beautiful pictures and enjoy this magnificient place in peace and quiet. Have you ever seen such mystical pictures with a cloud over the ruins? Only in this period will you take such a wonderful photo (I posted one below). Just do not forget to buy a ticket including mountains (either Machu Picchu mountain or Wayna Picchu), because it allows you to re-enter once and the main services are located outisde the ruins. For example, if you want to buy a snack and re-enter the ruins only such a ticket will enable you to do that. The website is not very clear on this, so write it down!

Check-List before going to Machu Picchu ruins:
Buy tickets at least 6 months in advance including mountains, as described above, online here.
Remember: You cannot buy tickets at the main entrance in Machu Picchu
 Buy morning tickets for Machu Picchu (the crowds start at 10:00) and spend the night in Aguas Calientes. It is such an unique atmosphere, you will meet so many people from different parts of the world and everyone here will head to only one destination: Machu Picchu.
– You cannot avoid any bus queues, but still buy the bus tickets from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu in advance at this address: Av. Hermanos Ayar S / N, before Puente Ruinas (from 5 am to 9 pm). If you dare, you can of course hike 2 hours up to Machu Picchu and if you travel with the First Class Train by Inca Rail, a private bus to the Citadel on the same day of your trip is included in the price.
Either book a guided tour in advance or hire one of the official guides at the entrance (this is mandatory, according to new Peruvian regulations you will not be able to enter the ruins without the presence of a guide). I chose and recommend  Sas Travel Peru

 Sunscreen (at least UV 50) and hat – this wonderful place is very close to the Equator and its UV Index is 11, one of the strongest in the whole world!  As of 9:30 the sun literally burns. Hat recommendation – STETSON UV Protection
Insect Repellent with DEET – My choice is the Portuguese Previpiq Tropics Roll On, since it is much easier to use than a spray
Columbia OmniShade clothes with UV Index 50 or from any other trekking brand, such as NorthFace, Jack Wolfskin, etc. Most important is clothes with sun protecction, especially trousers and shirts
Fleece Jacket
T-Shirts with UV Protection (temperatures will vary from 8C to 25C in one day, so you need to take both jackets and fresher clothes)
Hiking boots with Vibram sole – I used Brütting
– Trekking socks – I used FALKE
– Drink  plenty of water
– Take a light bag (you will be at 3,600 m altitude which is tiring, so take only what is absolutely neccessary )
– Beyond the many wonderful pictures you will take, stop for a while to admire the lost City of the Incas and the surroundings. I could have stayed long hours just contemplating the landscape, one definitely feels a special energy in such a magical place.

What is so glorious and admirable in Machu Picchu?
Personally I was impressed by how advanced the Incas were in terms of civil engineering and architecture. The way homes were built, the way water sewage systems functioned, everything was logical and extremely carefully planned. Many years after Hiram Bingham’s expedition, there were even teams of civil engineers who went to Machu Picchu to evaluate the level of advancement of the Incas.
Furthermore, I found Inca cosmology and trilogy extremely fascinating.  According to the pantheistic perception of the world which the Incas had, the sun, the moon, the earth, the plants, the animals and everything that surrounds them are living divine beings. Its main gods were the sun (Inti), the earth (Pachamama), the moon (Killa), the ray (Illapa), the mountains (Apus), among others.  Pachamama is the origin of everything and we are all bounded together, we are all part of one Earth, one world.
In Aguas Calients there is a very famous statue depicting the Inca trilogy (I have a picture below): the serpent, the puma and the condor. These  3 animals  represented the cosmovision of the Incas: the superior world of the gods (Hanan Pacha) – condor, the world of the living (Kay Pacha) – puma and the world of the dead (Uku Pacha) – serpent.

Machu Picchu panorama at 6 am – mystical and magnificient

Machu Picchu and Lamas, Peru´s iconic picture

The Fancy Explorer made it to Machu Picchu

Another Macchu Picchu perspective with lamas in the background

How to get to Machu Picchu?
One of the very first questions you have to deal with when planning a trip to Machu Picchu is how to get there? The most comfortable way is undoubtely by train (from Cusco around 5 hours). There are only 2 companies operating this service: Inca Rail and Peru Rail. I chose the Inca Rail and to keep it fancy I picked the category First Class – others include Voyager, Bimodal, 360 and The Private.

What is so special about the First Class?
– Design
– Customer Service
– Leather sits
– Gourmet menu
– Bar
– Panoramic balcony (for me the star of this train, there is no better way to experience or take pictures of the Andes)
– Live music
– You will learn how to make the traditional Pisco Sour and drink it!

How does a trip with the First Class train look like?
I departed from Cusco – station San Pedro at 8:30. While waiting to hear my name, an assistant showed me my place at the train (a whole table for myself). After reading the lunch menus and informing about any food intolerance, we hear we will be stopping at station Poroy in Cusco and Ollaytaytambo before reaching the final destination – Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu pueblo). Between the stops we were on hold for 15 minutes, which allowed the passengers to take pictures of our train. Between entering the train and serving lunch, we are invited to use the panoramic balcony and please spend as much time as you can there!! You will see the very picturesque landscape of the Andean mountains, lakes and see the beginning of the well-known Inca Trail.  About 1 hour before arriving to Aguas Calientes, the manager of the train will invite you to learn how to make and taste the famous Pisco Sour.
First Class travellers – you are entitled to a private bus to the Citadel, it is already included in the price, however only on the same day of your journey!!

Inside the Inca Rail First Class Train

A whole table for myself at the Inca Rail First Class Train

Panoramic balcony at the Inca Rail First Class Train

Impressions of Poroy – Cusco:
It is located in the outskirts of Cusco, you see many more locals, however it is also a poorer part of the city. On a personal note, my heart was broken looking outside and travelling through this poorer part of Cusco, while I was abord the First Class train.
Impressions of Ollaytaytambo:
One of the most important Inca ruins in the Sacred Valley. Breathtaking landscapes, the pure Andean beauty!
Impressions of Aguas Calientes:
An unique international atmosphere in such a small place. All corners of the world unite to reach the Wonder of the World: Machu Picchu!  Restaurants and hotels are overpriced, but when you buy the 6 a.m ticket there is no other way than to stay there overnight.

Aguas Calientes

Lunch menu:
Appetizer: Quinoa salad with vegetables
Main dish: Grilled chicken with vegetables and purée (vegetarian options available upon request)
Dessert: Organic chocolate cake with quinoa

Prices will obviously depend on the season you visit Machu Picchu. I went in August, which is the dry season and one of the most popular ones. Both ways cost $400.  When you travel for 5 hours in such an unique landscape, some investment is worth it.

My trip to Machu Picchu was one of the most fascinating ones – from the tour guiding in the ruins, to the hotels/restaurants in Aguas Calientes until the First Class train, but also one of the most touching ones. I arrived and departed from Aguas Calientes completely different and no matter how clichée it sounds, Machu Picchu has a pure magic and mysticism. It is a must in anyone’s Bucket List. I will definitely come back.

Next time in Peru to revisit Machu Picchu, I will choose again The First Class train operated by Inca Rail. Thank you for providing such an excellent service and one of the most beautiful train rides I have ever done.

In case you need any tips or more questions about my trip of this specific train, I am more than happy to answer your questions!

See you fancy travellers!