Part I: Getting There
Part II: Cuzco to Machu Picchu
Part III: Approaching Machu Picchu via Train
Part IV: How to Buy Tickets for Machu Picchu and How I Almost Screwed It All Up
Part V: Machu Picchu in Pictures
Part VI: Wrapping up the trip in Cuzco
I almost messed it all up. I had one job, book Machu Picchu tickets online, and I blew it. How did it happen? Read on.
Buying tickets to Machu Picchu can be very confusing
Machu Picchu used to be easier to enter, but in order to preserve the site the Peruvian government instituted capacity controls in 2011. Now only 2500 people are allowed to enter each day. During busy seasons these slots are taken up quickly.
There are a few different categories of tickets:
- Machu Picchu: Grants you access to the citadel at Machu Picchu (the main site). $68 at current (January 2015) levels.
- Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu: Access to Machu Picchu and to the mountain peak that’s in the background of most pictures you see of Machu Picchu. Limited to 400 per day and in two groups, 200 entering Huayna Picchu between 7-8am and the other 200 between 10-11am. $78.50
- Machu Picchu + Montaña: Access to Machu Picchu plus another hike up to the peak of Machu Picchu Mountain (La Montaña). This peak sits above Machu Picchu behind where most pictures you’ve seen of the citadel, facing Huayna Picchu. Limited to 400 per day. $78.50
- Machu Picchu + Museo: Access to Machu Picchu plus the museum. $78.50
So, an easy way of putting it is there are 2500 total tickets allowed for Machu Picchu. Out of those 2500, 400 tickets are available for the Huayna Picchu add-on and 400 are available for the Montaña add-on. Huayna Picchu tickets tend to go the quickest.
The Government’s Website
This is where I screwed it all up. The annoying part is there is an English version of the site, but it’s not completely translated. Although I speak Spanish pretty well, I don’t read it perfectly. Anyway, there are many steps that must be completed to use the government’s website to purchase tickets. Make sure your computer is connected to a printer before beginning this process:
Select the route you’d like to purchase from the above list (this is probably still read as ‘Seleccione la ruta’ on the site, even in the English version). Then select the date you’d like to go and a calendar will pop up with the availability for those dates. Select how many tickets you would like to buy, then you’ll click on Step Two
This is where it gets a little cantankerous and the site gets a little glitchy. Fill out the form for each person coming to Machu Picchu (passport numbers will be matched against your original passport at the entry gate so please get this correct!). That’s really it. Then you’re supposed to click on Step Three. Here’s the thing though: Step Three doesn’t always appear. You may have to try a few times in a few different browsers. If it’s still not working, or just freezes up with the little clock spinning and spinning, switch to the Spanish version of the site.
Fill out the form with your address, accept the T&C (mainly that you won’t undress at the site, which hilariously happens enough that they needed to say that), then click Reserve
***PAY REALLY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THIS NEXT PART***
You will receive a Reservation Code. WRITE THIS DOWN. Or copy it, or whatever. Make some sort of note of it. YOU ARE NOT DONE YET. I had thought I was because I didn’t read the instructions correctly. This reservation code expires in 24 hours, so don’t tempt fate, immediately proceed to the next page.
The next place to click is the Payment tab.
Enter your reservation code here and enter your card information to pay for the tickets.
YOU’RE STILL NOT DONE
Now you’ll click on the ‘Check-In’ tab.
Enter your reservation code again. Some people have to wait 30 minutes or so for the payment to process.
Once your entry tickets are displayed (in pdf format), PRINT THEM! They’re not emailed to you.
Buying through an agency
This is what we ended up doing. By the time I realized my critical mistake, the tickets for the standard Machu Picchu “route” were sold out. We ended up booking the Macchu Picchu + Montana tickets (even though we had no intention of going up the mountain). When I tried to use the website I was still getting error messages left and right, so I ended up using an agency called ticketmachupicchu.com. We paid a little extra, but ultimately they emailed us the tickets the day we departed for Mexico City.
We cut it way too close and I didn’t read the instructions. Don’t be like us! Follow the directions and you’ll be just fine.