Machu Picchu in the afternoon – Travel guide for a new experience

Free tours in Cusco do exist. There are also options that you can reach on foot from the Plaza de Armas. They are also destinations that are little visited by tourists because they are unaware of these options or are inclined to commercial routes. That is why it is possible to find less traveled and ideal spaces for photographs. The destinations we are going to talk about have become quite popular, especially during the last few years. Today they are destinations that many people visit regularly because they offer incredible photographs ideal for social networks or to venture as a content creator. They are also an incredible option for those who will travel or have already returned from Machu Picchu.

Entrance to the main sector during a sunset in Machu Picchu

Traditional trips to Machu Picchu

At present, and due to the little information available about the trips to Machu Picchu, priority was given to the morning shift. A large number of people arrive in the morning, leaving practically no access in the afternoon. The trips in the morning are practically a tradition because many people only choose this option. Especially, people who only have the intention of completing the trip to Machu Picchu in just one day, leaving from Cusco.

This option, of only one day, is characterized by leaving Cusco in the early hours of the morning. Sometimes as early as 4:00 in the morning. This is the ideal time to leave in the direction of the train or bus station. It should be remembered that travel from Cusco to Machu Picchu can be done in two ways. One of them is the direct trips by train. At the same time, the second option is the bimodal service. That is, make a first stretch by bus that connects Cusco with Ollantaytambo, to continue the journey by bus to Machu Picchu Town or Aguas Calientes.

At the end of this trip, it is estimated to arrive between 8:45 and 9:15 in the morning approximately. From that time we will make the bus trip to the archaeological site or the Llaqta of Machu Picchu. This trip only takes about 30 minutes so it is estimated to arrive at Machu Picchu at 10:00 in the morning. As it is one of the most popular options for tourists, the most popular entrance hours are 10:00 and 11:00 am. In that sense, the tour of Machu Picchu at that time has a lot of people which can be a slight problem. However, the supply of tickets allows an adequate flow for the tour.

Machu Picchu in the afternoon A new alternative?

Machu Picchu on a foggy morning

This is a little-known option, but a special alternative for those who wish to have a quieter and unhurried tour. This option has always been available and was only taken by the people who were most attentive to the schedules and the availability of train tickets. Visiting Machu Picchu in the afternoon is not as complicated as it may seem and does not require major changes at the time of travel. On the contrary, the way to get there is similar to the traditional way. Only, if you take this option and return, it is estimated to return and arrive in Cusco at approximately 23:00 hours.

As we mentioned, the way to get to the Inca Llaqta of Machu Picchu will be very similar to the traditional way, but with other schedules. As we mentioned, the way to get to the Inca Llaqta of Machu Picchu, will be very similar to the traditional way, but with other schedules. One of them is that the Inca citadel will allow a more intimate tour. Machu Picchu does not have many visitors in the afternoon and that allows the tours to be less congested at the same time, you can appreciate in more detail the explanations of the guide.

Machu Picchu does not have many visitors in the afternoon and that allows the tours to be less congested at the same time, you can appreciate in more detail the explanations of the guide. In other words, you can start activities between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. So you will have enough time to prepare your belongings with peace of mind and even have an excellent breakfast. By opting for this option you will also be able to get enough rest and avoid getting up early, of course, this is an advantage for those who find it hard to get up early.

Arrival at Machu Picchu Town will be right at lunchtime. This will make for a rewarding lunch. However, it will be important to have the restaurant chosen so as not to waste time in making a decision. After lunch, you can ascend to the Llaqta of Machu Picchu in the ecological buses. After the new reforms that were made in the year 2024 on the schedules of Machu Picchu, it is allowed to enter the citadel until 16:00 hours. Another benefit of arriving at the Inca citadel in the afternoon is that you can appreciate Machu Picchu, completely clear and without fog.

Timetables and activities to get to Machu Picchu in the afternoon

By doing this route you will arrive at Machu Picchu Town at noon.

  • The recommended schedule for greater comfort throughout the day is to leave Cusco at 7:00 a.m.
  • Arrival at Machu Picchu Town will be between 12:00 and 12:30 pm.
  • This way you can arrive early to Machu Picchu Town and have more than enough time for lunch and even a short walk.
  • It is recommended to make reservations for entrance to Machu Picchu after 14:00 hours.
  • From 14:00 hours you will have other options for 15:00 and enter until 16:00 hours.
  • The tour of the Inca llaqta of Machu Picchu has an average duration of 2 hours to 2 hours and 30 minutes.
  • You will have to book the ticket “Machu Picchu Llaqta (Circuit 1 or 2)” or “Machu Picchu + Inca Bridge”. Both tickets allow entrance until 4:00 pm.
  • You will find return train options departing after 18:00 hours. These options can be found on both Inca Rail and PeruRail.
  • Even if the arrival in Cusco is a little late, it is possible to find cab service.
  • Another option is to book private transportation or pick-up. They will help you at the beginning and end of your trip to Machu Picchu.

Other complementary services

Entrance to Machu Picchu doing Circuit 1 or 2

Getting to Machu Picchu is not so complicated, but it is necessary to take into account all the necessary details as some other services can be used or required at the time of making the trip to Machu Picchu in the afternoon. It can also be useful for those who want to have a more exclusive experience and with all the necessary comforts. For example, something practically obvious is the availability of hotels. In Cusco, it is possible to find hotels of different categories, from standard to five-star hotels that are comfortable and with excellent services.

It is important to mention that, to get to Machu Picchu, it is not necessary to acquire the services of an agency. That is to say, it is possible to arrive at total independence and contracting only the necessary services independently. Although it is an option to save money, it is possible that by not planning the itinerary well or not having adequate information, it is possible to end up making mistakes. Usually, mistakes can end up ruining the rest of the activities and the travel experience. For this reason, and if it is your first time in Peru, it is advisable to contact a travel agency. They usually take care of acquiring all the necessary services to have an unforgettable experience and dedicate themselves only to travel.

Normally travel agencies offer transportation services according to the travel plan. To get to Machu Picchu in the afternoon you have to start with the transportation service from Cusco to Machu Picchu Town. There are train departures from Cusco with direct departures. But it stops in Ollantaytambo so that other passengers can board the train. There are also trips by bimodal service, which allows a bus trip to connect in Ollantaytambo and continue the journey by train. In case you want to make the trip on your own, you will have to make the reservation separately from the train ticket.

As for the trains you can choose trains from two companies, one of them is PeruRail and the other is Inca Rail. Comment that Inca Rail will allow you more optimal schedules to get to Machu Picchu in the afternoon. It will also be necessary that you make the reservation for bus tickets. As for these tickets, the availability does not have many problems. It is recommended to reserve this service one week in advance to avoid errors in the system. Bus rides are comfortable and allow you to get to Machu Picchu in only 30 minutes.

Only some agencies offer transportation services to pick you up from your hotel and drop you off at your hotel when you return from Machu Picchu. In case you make the trip on your own, you can contact some of these services to ensure the safety of the trip. Also, some options offer other services such as car rental or private transportation that can enhance the travel experience. This is because a whole new travel experience can be implemented by having more time for more activities. All this is thanks to the free availability of private transportation.

Details to consider

The fog in Machu Picchu occurs during the first hours of the day

It is important to book in advance, even if you choose another travel experience or have other activities in mind. This is because Machu Picchu, being a destination that is visited on a massive scale, tends to run out of availability from one day to the next. It is not good to trust or wait until the last minute to make the corresponding reservation. Reservations can normally be made online. If you have not booked and you are already planning to travel to Cusco and Machu Picchu, you can purchase a ticket in Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu Town, but you will be allowed to enter the day after the reservation.

Another detail to keep in mind is that Machu Picchu is located in a semi-tropical zone. In this sense, it has a warm climate with some interferences of light rains. The rainy season is from December until the first weeks of March. Sometimes the rains stop earlier. However, the rest of the year it is likely to rain, but lightly. For this reason, it is recommended to bring a raincoat, mosquito repellent, and sunscreen. Finally, it is advisable to wear comfortable and light clothing both for the heat and for the tour of Machu Picchu.


By Imachupicchu – Last updated, February 22, 2024

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