After extensive planning and reading for our trip to Machu Pichu, I knew that there were things that I would have to figure out once I arrived, which is always half the fun of getting to a new place, But there’s also a few things that no one mentioned that would have been so helpful to know! So here are the two things I wish people had written about or told me prior to going to Machu Pichu.
1. Mosquitos. Yes, I had been told to bring bug spray due to the amount of mosquitos, and I did bring the bug spray (100 percent into the woods DEEDS), but I was not prepared for what I encountered. Machu Pichu does not have mosquitos; it has sand flies, which is a completely different monster. Sand flies are tiny flies that attack your skin leaving you behind with a dozen bumps that get irritated and even make your skin swell up. We did not encounter these anywhere else but in the Machu Pichu sacred ruins. We had woken up early to go hike Machu Pichu Mountain and sprayed ourselves with the bug spray. These flies are not present in the mountain, we had no issues hiking up, but on our way down into the Machu Pichu ruins, we were surrounded by millions of them. Our legs were completely covered and even though I brought the bug spray, I didn’t put it on in time. I got about a dozen bites on each leg by my ankles. It has been almost three weeks and they are still itchy. The best way to prevent this is by wearing long sleeves and yoga pants, if you’re wearing loose pants they will get into your pants and it’s all over, you will be done for. Sand flies can take up to months to clear up and sadly they leave scars behind if you scratch, so my best advice is prevention, prevention and don’t just rely on the bug spray. Make sure to pack with you a few things, just in case you get bitten up. I recommend taking some allergy medicine, calamine lotion, and cortisone 10, just in case. Once you get bit make sure you take your allergy medicine and prevent the itchiness. Scratching is what causes the bites to get bigger, swollen, scar and can cause more serious infections.
2. Machu Pichu Mountain. Everywhere I read, I was told that Machu Pichu Mountain takes about 2 hours to hike, and even though it’s an advanced trail it is one that is enjoyable and best part of going to Machu Pichu, which is the only reason we did it. We were even told by the man at the beginning of the trail where you sign your name that it would take about 2 hours total. Hiking Machu Pichu will cost you about $50 bucks more on top of your entrance to Machu Pichu. Keep in mind that it is an amazing, fun hike and one I recommend doing as early as possible. Once it hits 10 am in Machu Pichu, the sun begins to hit hard and it’s very humid and hot making the trail very uncomfortable. I am not an experienced hiker, but the group of people who we went up with (some had been hiking the Inca trail for the past 4 days) were and let’s just put it this way, It is not a 2 hour hike; it is realistically a 4 hour hike. This is not your typical hiking trail; instead you go up 2800 Inca style steps all the way to the summit. If you thought an incline was difficult enough, imagine uneven rock steps that were built in the Inca times falling apart as you walk down and no, they didn’t build it with rails to hold on to. It was terrifying! Make sure you are prepared with water, and light breathable but long sleeve shirt and pants. It gets horribly hot, but do remember the flies that will await you when you’re done hiking. Make sure that you are also fully acclimated, this is not the hike you want to be stuck up doing and getting altitude sickness, as there is no one that can come up and get you once you’re up there. Again, I can’t stress that the entire hike is not a solid path but from the bottom all the way to summit about 1 foot tall uneven stone steps with an incline, there will be times where you will need to use hands and feet to climb up so make sure to have your hands empty.
Either way with flies and rock steps, Machu Pichu was an experience I will never forget and I will have the scars to prove it! I highly recommend that even if hiking isn’t your forte to try one of the mountains or trails Machu Pichu has to offer, the view from the top is worth it all.