City: Cusco, Mountains // Category: Machu Picchu Information and Machu Picchu tickets // Last Update: June 2019 // Reading time: 7 min
With more than 4000 visitors per day, the magical Machu Picchu is by far the most visited place in Peru for mostly one reason: it's a world wonder.
However, organising the Machu Picchu tickets can be confusing. Many people wonder about which train to take to Machu Picchu, when to buy tickets or if it's worth hiking the Huayna Picchu, the Machu Picchu Mountain or the Sun gate (Inti Punku).
The main challenges are that many people don't understand the complexity of organizing this day in a way so they have a stress-free experience.
Further, the differences of the viewpoints around Machu Picchu nor the new rules and regulations on the Machu Picchu tickets are clear.
The government changes them constantly and at the beginning of 2019 the ticket regulation has been updated entirely.
This is why I’d like to share some helpful insights on the different Machu Picchu tickets.
After reading this post, you'll have a full understanding of which Machu Picchu ticket will fit your travel plans best, what's the difference between the mountains around the mystical lost city and when to get your tickets to avoid them being sold out.
Machu Picchu tickets and the different entrance times
The Machu Picchu ticket gives you permission to enter the gates to the Machu Picchu complex.
Here, you usually have a guided tour of 1.5 - 2.5 hours, depending on the type of tour you choose. More personalized tours take longer than the touristy group tours which are, of course, cheaper.
There's always a trade-off, but for the once-in-a-lifetime experience, you should think twice if saving money here is the right choice.
The first fact I'd like to share is that this permission is a 1x entrance. This means that when you leave, you can't enter again.
A not so funny fact is that the restrooms are located outside of the complex, so I recommend using them before you enter to make sure that there will be no "toilet emergency".
There are exceptions that allow you to enter a second time and I'll cover this part in a bit.
Further, it is necessary to enter Machu Picchu with a guide due to security reasons and the entrance time has to be respected strictly. More and more travelers that organized the entire trip on their own in order to save a few bucks have had problems entering as the guards at the entrance wouldn't let them in.
Why is that? Under the new regulations, the government doesn't like to have travelers inside the complex who walk around freely without an official guide.
They might go wherever they want to, even if it's prohibited, stay longer than they're supposed to, don't respect the complex's rules, leave garbage, pee in corners, harm the property itself by robbing stones or scratching initials or other things on stones...
As you can see, the list is long. It's somehow understandable that they have to become more serious about this and of course, it's a pity that there have been past travelers who misbehaved making future travelers pay for it.
Thus, there's a certain risk of visiting Machu Picchu without a guide.
There are guides outside of the complex who offer to join you but consider this: How do you know how professional they are? Is it a fair price for what they offer you? Is it true what they promise you?
There are several stories from disappointed travelers who did it this way and finally left Machu Picchu with an experience far from what they had imagined.
If not enough, the entire organization of "how to get to Machu Picchu" in the end depends on the entrance time of your Machu Picchu ticket.
You have to make sure that you get all the tickets, some in advance, others in Peru itself as the bus tickets from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu can only be paid in person (the day tour to Machu Picchu we offer includes it all).
This can end in frustration and turn out to be quite time-consuming.
Those are some of the reasons why visiting Machu Picchu becomes more difficult to organize. Thus, more and more people prefer to save valuable time, avoid potential disappointments, make sure to have the desired experience and rely on the Machu Picchu tour organisation by professionals.
As previously said, there are exceptions for entering Machu Picchu more than once. This depends on the different ticket options that are available. Let's check them out a little closer.
It's possible to visit only the Machu Picchu complex, which represents the general ticket with the 1x entrance permission.
Further, there's the Huayna Picchu ticket and the Machu Picchu Mountain ticket which (attention!) allow you to enter once again.
How come? Because after you've enjoyed your guided tour through the Machu Picchu you have to leave the complex.
Entrance and exit are apart and it's like walking one circle. There is no going backward when you're in the line of travelers walking through the ruins, just forward.
So sooner or later you arrive at the exit area where guards don't grant you much time to rest.
After you have left Machu Picchu, you'll have to enter again to get to the meet-up point to hike to Huayna Picchu or to Machu Picchu Mountain. This is why in this case there is a second entrance permission.
You can hike up to the Sun Gate with the regular Machu Picchu ticket if you choose to go there before doing the tour of the Machu Picchu complex.
If you want to do the tour first and then visit the Sun Gate, you'd have to buy an additional entrance ticket (or a Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain ticket) as you'd have to leave the complex after the tour and reenter.
You can either go here first and do the Machu Picchu tour later or the other way around. If you decide to go to the Sun Gate first, you can witness how the sun rises and illuminates Machu Picchu without many people hiking up with you.
However, for some people, the hike might be tiring so that you won't enjoy the tour of Machu Picchu afterward.
Remember what I said in the beginning. There are a lot of travelers visiting Machu Picchu every day.
With the new times and time limits of being inside the complex, they increased it to almost 6000 travelers per day.
Our following table presents the official Machu Picchu tickets, their schedule, and the related capacities.
Machu Picchu (includes access to Sun Gate)
Hourly entrance from 6 am to 2 pm
Varies by hour.
Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu
400 travelers per day, divided into 200 per shift.
Machu Picchu + Mountain Machu Picchu
400 travelers per day, divided into 200 per shift.
Overview of the different Machu Picchu tickets and the respective entrance times
You see, there are several shifts you'll need to pay closer attention to in case you want to hike one of those mountains.
In 2019, the Machu Picchu ticket only permits to enter 1-2 hours before having the "last call" to join the last group up to the mountains.
Example: At 6:00 am would be the entrance to Machu Picchu for the guided tour and at 8:00 am leaves the last group for this first shift.
This means that you have two hours in Machu Picchu. For the 8:00 am entrance you have almost 3 hours available to get to know Machu Picchu.
Previously I already mentioned that privately and professionally guided Machu Picchu tours take up to 2.5 hours. Thus, the second shift is more interesting to spend more time at Machu Picchu itself. This is why we usually recommend this option.
Please also be aware of the trains that leave at specific times. In case you want to take the train to Machu Picchu in the morning, you wouldn't be able to enter the first shift as there wouldn't be enough time.
This shift is only recommended to those who plan to stay the night before in Aguas Calientes, the village next to Machu Picchu.
Knowing about the different entrance times and types of tickets for Machu Picchu, we are good to move on to check out the mountains you can climb here.
Where are the Machu Picchu hikes located
1) Sun Gate (Inti Punku)
2) Machu Picchu Mountain
3) Machu Picchu
4) Huayna Picchu Mountain
Every spot presents a viewpoint to see Machu Picchu as well as its surroundings from another perspective.
What do people prefer? Difficult to say. Most have the desire to do the Huayna Picchu because of its challenging hike.
Others prefer the Machu Picchu Mountain or the Sun gate due to the view over the surrounding mountains, seeing Machu Picchu from above and the less strenuous hike.
Let's take a closer look at the 4 locations accessible when visiting Machu Picchu.
Quick details about the locations and tickets
The Machu Picchu complex is what everyone wants to see and explore. To enter this place, the Machu Picchu ticket is necessary.
You'll walk about 2.5 hours through the so-called lost city and learn historic details and stories about the past life from your guide.
You will get to know the Intiwatana temple of the three Windows, the sun temple, the temple of the condor, the main plaza and the agricultural zone.
In the end, our guide shares with you a tip on how to stay a bit longer on the site while the touristy groups pass by to exit Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu:
Huayna Picchu (2720 m) is the mountain that you see in the background of most famous Machu Picchu pictures.
The Huayna Picchu ticket must be booked months ahead as there are only 400 tickets per day.
The Huayna Picchu tickets are the most popular ones.
In case you consider hiking Huayna Picchu between May and August (high season in Cusco), it is recommended to get your tickets 2-3 months in advance.
And by the way, did you already see that the mountain has a face? The entire hike up and down, as well as the break on top, take approximately 2.5 hours. To quote a traveler I talked to recently, "I never hiked stairs this steep".
Machu Picchu + Machu Picchu Mountain:
The Machu Picchu Mountain, being 3,082 m (10,111 ft.) high, is higher than the Huayna Picchu with 2,720 m (8,923 ft.) altitude. It is located on the opposite side of the Huayna Picchu.
Considering the difficulty, this hike is easier than the Huayna Picchu but it takes the same time. I'd like to say that the hike is simple, but remember, you're on the way to 10,000 feet altitude and there are again many stairs to the top.
So keep it easy and make sure you get the fascinating shot from up there.
The Sun Gate, also known as Inti Punku, can be entered with the normal Machu Picchu ticket and you do not need a guide/special ticket to get there.
It used to be the main entrance to Machu Picchu and is crossed by those who wander the Inca Trail.
I can only recommend this place to you as the view is breathtaking and the way up is not so difficult and less dangerous than others.
The duration of the hike to the Sun Gate is about 1 - 1.5 hours.
What's the best time to do the hike?
Generally speaking, preferably before your guided tour, as then you won't have any problems finding your group.
You may feel a little tired after the hike, but it is definitely worth it, because the view is incredible and remember that only few people know about this hidden gem.
Everyone wants to make their Machu Picchu experience unique and unforgettable.
The good thing: there are plenty of options on how to do so.
The bad thing: if you don't plan ahead of time, this might turn out to be a bad experience for you, especially considering the Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain tickets.
It's crucial to consider the rules and the entrance times for the Machu Picchu ticket as well as who is the guide joining you on this unique experience.
If you want to do an additional hike to Huayna Picchu, Machu Picchu Mountain or to the Sun Gate, just make sure to book the ticket in advance.
Being the most important place in all of Peru, it's safe to say that spending a little more ensures a better outcome most of the time.
Be aware of the Machu Picchu weather, before you book your tour.
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