Climbing Huayna Picchu is not mandatory. You can tell by the number of passes available per day (2000 for Machu Picchu; 400 for Huayna Picchu) that the ruins themselves are more in demand for tourists. That’s just understandable given the challenges you have to face in climbing that mountain, as well as time restrictions and the like. The thing about Machu Picchu, though, is that it’s always full of people, especially if you come during the peak summer months.
Up to now, scholars are still debating about the real intention of the Incas when they built this place. To think that the Spanish colonizers never found it is not surprising. You don’t really chance upon such archaeological wonders, even more so when they are located on top of a mountain that would have taken them days to climb back then. The general idea is that it was some sort of resort built for the higher-ups of Inca society. If you look at the layout of the place, this theory seems plausible.
What I liked about it is that it has various levels. There are many steps either leading up to a higher vantage point or going down for a more majestic view of the surrounding peaks. The prevalent shades are green and gray, in harmony with the brown mountains and blue sky. If you come here during summer, you won’t really find it hard to take awesome photos. All you have to do is point and shoot, and you are guaranteed to capture something postcard perfect.
If you are just going to explore the ruins and want to have some alone time, you can come very early in the morning to avoid the crowds. If you are a sleepyhead like me, there’s also an afternoon ticket available which allows entry after 1 PM. If you choose this option, brace yourself for a tourist infestation. If you are climbing Huayna Picchu, I suggest doing it first. You can always explore the ruins on your way down, but climbing that mountain has a time limit and should be prioritized.
I recommend coming with some background info. It’s easy, just Google “Machu Picchu”. I mean, the place looks awesome alright, but the constant green and rocks get repetitive after a while. At least, once you are done with taking pictures, you can also get to imagine how life was back then, or what these ruins really were. Let your imagination fly. I suppose traveling with friends would be more fun. Just imagine all the awesome group pics you will be uploading on Facebook. Hooray!
There is also a huge green field where alpacas roam around free. You can see that at the center but you are not allowed to go in and play with them, which is sad. I am not sure if there is some sort of souvenir photo tourist trap somewhere. Maybe the owners of the photos I see online are really just resourceful and creative. There isn’t much fauna to see aside from the alpacas. The area has more concentration of flora. You’ll find more if you climb Huayna Picchu.
Once you are done and hungry, there is a buffet restaurant right at the entrance. They charge USD40 for the lunch buffet. To be honest, there’s a wealth of options back in Aguas Calientes. If you can’t endure the wait time for the bus, which is usually just 15 minutes, then there’s also a vending machine selling overpriced chocolate and junk food next to the toilets. Those vending machines only accept coins. You can also splurge and stay at the USD700 a night hotel next to the park entrance.
[URUBAMBA] The Ruins of Machu Picchu