Set in the sacred valley of Peru and the original ´lost city´ of the Incan Empire, Machu Picchu is a genuine historical landmark that has unfortunately become over-run by careless tourists and money-hungry local guides . The magnificent ruins are registered as a world heritage site, and maybe that´s the first problem.
It seems as though every time a world marvel is registered as a historical landmark, tourists run as fast as they can to their nearest travel agency to book a cookie-cutter tour through the site. And although I don´t suggest by any means to skip over Machu Picchu while traveling through South America, I believe there are ways you can avoid subscribing to corrupt and expensive travel packages and instead contribute to the preservation of this sacred land.
Book a Tour While in Peru
It is cheaper and more effective, yet slightly more complicated to try and book a tour that doesn´t require you to pay for an entire package.Tour agencies will package you into a so called ¨deal¨ that encompasses a tour and train ride for a ridiculous price tag. You can purchase train tickets through the Inca Trail or the Machu Picchu train, a one way ticket costs around $57 dollars depending on the class you choose. Tour agencies will package you into a so called ¨deal¨ that encompasses a tour and train ride for a ridiculous price tag. However, YOU HAVE TO BOOK YOUR PARK ENTRANCE FEE BEFORE YOU ARRIVE IN MACHU PICCHU, entrance fees run around $50. This can be done on the government´s website: www.machupicchu.gob.pe. For tour agencies, read honest reviews on trip advisor or checkout this blog: http: www.chanatrek.com for an accurate and thrifty way to do the journey on your own.
Eat Before you Visit and Bring Snacks
After entering the park, prices will go up tremendously. A bottle of water can cost around $7 U.S dollars while a burger can be as much as $15, plus the food is not very good to begin with. To tour the park in one day, it takes anywhere from 5-8 hours so eat BEFORE you enter the park in its residing town, Agua Calientes. Load up on snacks and goodies in your backpack, but make sure you hide them well because they could get confiscated at the entrance.
Buy a Reusable Water Bottle
The biggest threat to the sacred land of Machu Picchu is the amount of plastic waste that travelers produce. As you make the trek through the ruins it can be depressing and infuriating that travelers insist on buying three or four plastic water bottles in the park and then proceed to throw them on the ground when they are finished. This is not a joke it is a serious problem that occurs every day. If you are invested in mother earth and sustainable tourism then choose to either purchase a reusable water bottle, or carry purification tablets with you at all times. Your footprint (or lack there of) will make a difference.
Have you traveled to Machu Picchu? What steps have you taken before arriving?