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3 Days in Wadi Rum Jordan

3 days in wadi rum

Traveling to Jordan is one of the most amazing travel experiences I’ve had. There is so much history and archaeological sites that are beyond astonishing and if you have only 3 days to spend in Jordan, I highly recommend you spend time planning in advance.

Also, be sure to learn some of the basic Arabic greetings and phrases, it will definitely set you ahead!

What is Wadi Rum?

Wadi Rum is a gorgeous desert set in southern Jordan, filled with rolling sands, massive rock structures, and a breathtaking night sky. Also, known as “Valley of the Moon”, Wadi Rum is a 720 square kilometer UNESCO World Heritage site with an interesting history.

It was inhabited by humans as early as 12,000 years ago as shown by the ancient petroglyphs and inscriptions from around the desert. It was even once home (temporarily) to the Nabateans, the builders of Petra.

Today the desert still plays a role in housing Bedouins who live in the desert and acting as a stage for numerous Hollywood productions such as The Martian, Lawrence of Arabia, two Star Wars movies, Dune, and even the live action remake of Aladdin.

How to Get to Wadi Rum

How to get to Wadi Rum

There are a few ways to get to Wadi Rum depending on your preferred type of transportation and where you’re coming from.

The choices you’ll find in getting to Wadi Rum are to rent a car, take a taxi, or take a bus from a nearby city/tourist destination. If you’re renting a car, I simply recommend getting GPS or a map, as that’s the easiest way to get there. Also, if you’re camping in the desert, no tourist is allowed to drive through the desert.

So, you’ll either be parking at the visitor center (which costs 5JD to enter or free with the Jordan Pass) or Rum village and will be picked up by your host and taken into the desert.

If you’re coming from Aqaba there are buses/minibuses that can take you to the Wadi Rum turn off. If decide to take a taxi from Aqaba, it should be around 35 JD to get to the visitor’s center.

Coming from Petra a taxi will cost the similar 35 JD but a bus costs 7 JD and will take you to the Visitors Center or Rum Village. The bus can also be scheduled to pick you up from your hotel in Petra.

Where to stay in Wadi Rum

Where to Stay in Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum has quite a few comfortable camping spots in the desert, some surprisingly luxurious considering the location. Self-camping is an option, but you’ll still need to find a way into the desert, pack food and water accordingly, and be fully prepared for any emergencies.

Honestly, self-camping is not going to be a relaxing time in Wadi Rum unless you have a vehicle to take you around.

The option we chose and recommend was staying at one of the camps with shelter, food, and transportation provided.

A luxurious option of these is the Wadi Rum Bubble Luxotel. I know you’ve probably seen the see-through bubble tents being advertised and these are those tents. Take in the Wadi Rum sunset and night sky from the comfort of your tent and enjoy all amenities necessary for a relaxing time.

Another cheaper option would be the Wadi Rum Green Desert campground.

They offer similar amenities such as food and showers, but the washrooms are public and there’s no see-through roof in your tent. By no means should the discount option be assumed “cheap”. The hosts of the camp were incredibly nice and very helpful on anything we needed.

We went with the cheaper option to save money as we were there to see the sites around Wadi Rum as exploring was our focus.

3 Days in Wadi Rum

3 Days in Wadi Rum Jordan

All of this rich history and only so many days to see it. Let’s see how to separate some of Wadi Rum’s most iconic sites to fit into a 3-day schedule.

Day 1 in Wadi Rum 

Every day will have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so be sure to plan around those as well.

To start with which sites to see, coming into the visitor’s center will be the start of the adventure. Upon reaching the desert gates, you’ll see the first site.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Seven Pillars of Wisdom Wadi Rum

Viewable left of the visitor’s center is the first notable landmark of Wadi Rum, the Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Named after the famous book of T. E. Lawrence “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”, is a massive rock formation with the base of the rock dating back to 4.6 billion years ago!

Lawrences Spring

Lawrence’s Spring is next on the list since it’s not far after leaving Rum Village to get toward your camp.

Also named after T. E. Lawrence and his influence during World War 1, helping to fight against the Ottoman Empire. Visiting the site won’t take long but will be a nice place to experience some history and prepare for your time in Wadi Rum.

Khazali Canyon

Khazali Canyon Wadi Rum

Khazali Canyon can be seen shortly after Lawrence spring.

All of these sites on the first day are relatively easy to see and won’t take up a load of time. I think it’s best that way since you’ll spend some of the day arriving to Wadi Rum, getting a ride ready to go into the desert, and need time to settle into your camp.

Khazali Canyon will take maybe 30-45 minutes to explore and is worth the visit! It may be a little crowded depending on when you go, but it didn’t make it harder to see any of the canyon writings or navigate the area.

Day 2 in Wadi Rum

Obviously, these sites don’t have to be seen in this order, because the best route for the day will depend on where your camp is. But all are close compared to the rest of the sites.

Um Frouth Rock Bridge

Um Frouth Bridge Wadi Rum

The Um Frouth Rock Bridge offers a very interesting sight and some sweaty heights to experience. It’s not a frightening experience, but if you’re very wary of heights, I wouldn’t recommend walking across the bridge itself.

Although, access to the bridge isn’t a hazard and can be accessed fairly easy. So even if you don’t want to cross the bridge, there is still a wonderful view from the top.

Abu Khashaba Canyon

An interesting walk through time in the Wadi Rum, Abu Khashaba Canyon houses shrubbery and life despite being in the middle of a desert.

The hike through the canyon may take 30-45 minutes and will be a nice reprieve from any sun that has been beating down on you throughout the day.

Burdah Rock Bridge

Burdah Rock Bridge

NOTE: If the Frouth Rock Bridge was too high for you, this one will be too. This one is significantly higher and will trigger those little belly rumbles you get from being up to high.  

If you’re fine with the heights, then the Burdah Rock Bridge will be an incredible hike. I would set aside roughly 3 hours to hike up and back as it’s a time-consuming hike. Because of the time, heat, and severity of the hike, it’s also not a trip for anyone who isn’t physically able to hike for prolonged periods of time.

Sunset at Um Sabatah

Overlooking the Wadi Rum desert is a tall mountainous structure known as Um Sabatah, a landmark to native Bedouins. It also offers a wonderful spot to end the day.

Um Sabatah offers a unique view over Wadi Rum from its cliff side and is a common spot for tourist to view the sunset. While it may get a little crowded, it will come as no surprise once the sun begins to set. Just make sure you have safe transport back to whatever camp you’re staying at.

Day 3 in Wadi Rum

Day 3 in Wadi Rum Jordan

The final day!

Hopefully the first two days are as rewarding as they were for me, but it’s not over yet!

Little Rock Bridge

Little Rock Bridge Wadi Rum

If the two rock bridges mentioned earlier in our list were too high, then this one is more relaxing and much less stressful in terms of height. There is still a little hiking to get to it, but it was not very exhaustive.

It did offer an awesome sight over Wadi Rum and was a nice place to spend some time and really take in all that the desert has to offer.

Al Ramal Red Sand Dune

Al Ramal Red Sand Dune Wadi Rum

This was an unexpected stop for us that our guide surprised us with. We were heading back to camp to stop here and take a short hike to the top.

If you’re looking for a little rush, they have sand boards available and can ride the sand dune like snowboarding down a mountain! Just be sure to let your guide know ahead of time so they know to have boards ready.

Make sure before you ride down, you take time to appreciate the peak. At the top of the Al Ramal Sand Dune is hard rock to stand on and take in Wadi Rum. It also offers a magnificent view of Khazali Canyon.

Lawrence House

Rumored to be a place where Lawrence stayed during his time in Wadi Rum, Lawrence’s house is in ruins but still a historical spot.

It’s also very popular for its unique views over the desert.

Enjoy Jordan!

Wadi Rum Jordan

If you’re going to Jordan for Wadi Rum, it’s worth staying longer to see the rest of the country. All of Jordan is rich in history and there is so much to see. Which means that if you’re spending 3 days in Wadi Rum, you may need to plan plenty of more time for the rest of the country!

If you’re interested in other places to see in Jordan, check out our Best Places to Visit in Jordan list!

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Top 3 Benefits of Traveling the World

benefits of traveling the world small

One of the best examples of why to travel I found, was the description on Quora’s travel section. It reads

“To get away from one’s working environment is, in a sense, to get away from one’s self; and this is often the chief advantage of travel and change.”

As modern men and women, we find ourselves complacent and sometimes afraid of change. The average person has a 9–5 and although may claim to be comfortable, always feels just a little bit off when the silence sets in. Usually set in front of a television or computer with no other purpose in it other than entertainment, never for a sense of self fulfillment.

Granted traveling isn’t for everyone. There are many people who do in fact enjoy the common hum drum beat of everyday life. However, if you’ve found yourself to this article and have stayed in even this far, I can only assume that might not be you.

So here are the benefits of travel and how it can make you a better person!

traveling benefits

LEARNING.

There is no better way to improve your knowledge of the world than going out and experiencing it first-hand. A book or show on the travel channel will never compare to feeling the breeze hit you when climbing through the Alps mid-summer.

Nor is there a course at your college that can truly engrave the emotional impact of tasting the foods of a foreign culture and meeting their native community. Your ignorance will evaporate with every step forward as you navigate your way around the globe.

why you should travel

CONFIDENCE.

Traveling, regardless of where you go, takes you out of your comfort zone. The first trip may be incredibly stressful trying to navigate the airport terminals and unfamiliar bus stations. But after you’ve completed your journey, there are few more satisfying actions than solving a problem through the process of adventure.

The first few trips I’ve taken we’re so surprising on how different things were, that it was definitely a perfect test for self-sufficiency. After all was said and done though, there is no greater confidence boost than knowing you’ve taken on a piece of the world and came out triumphant.

social travel

SOCIAL.

Through improving your knowledge of the world and gaining confidence through your problems in navigation (like the GPS you know is going to die and you still don’t bring a map), you will meet people with a view on life that you would’ve never considered. These people will test your ideas and beliefs and may become foes in your journey. But they can’t take away the joy you’ll gain from those who become friends.

Drive Thru Take Out:

You’ll be nervous undoubtedly, but don’t let it deter you from traveling. Travel to learn, gain confidence, and meet people who may become the best friends you’ve ever had.

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Skydiving in Spa Belgium

skydiving in spa belgium

Skydiving in Spa Belgium

I wanted to write a post for anyone considering skydiving as an excursion idea, especially if you’re going to skydive in Belgium. It was an anxiety induced ride of fear, adrenaline, and absolute fun!

The idea to go skydiving came up how I imagine it does most of the time, as a ‘why not?’ type conversation. I was stationed in Germany and one of my close friends was stationed in Belgium. Being so close, we figured we’d meet up and were trying to figure out what we could do. He was fairly quick to suggest skydiving and I for some reason said yes without hesitation.

We had another friend that was supposed to join us but backed out, I don’t blame him, my nerves were on edge.

After some debate, I decided to just drive up to Belgium and meet him since I just bought a car and it was cheaper for me to travel.

Getting to Belgium

The whole drive to Belgium it never really hit me I was about to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. I was just excited to travel a little and experience Belgium.

But, after a long mindless drive, I made it to Belgium safely.

Side note: Belgium has some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life. The gas station burgers there tasted like gourmet food and I loved everything I ate!

I didn’t meet up with my friend until later in the evening and called it an early night as we planned on going straight to skydiving the next day. Looking back, that was the best idea since I probably would’ve changed my mind.

The day of… Time to Skydive!

The morning of, I woke up and the first thought the went through my head was, “s&%t”. The first thing I thought was that I hadn’t backed out and it was too late now, I couldn’t abandon the idea and let my friend go alone.

I slowly went about my morning routine, acting like what I was about to do hadn’t been done successfully by so many before me. I really was over-stressing a bit.

We decided to get something in our stomachs beforehand (neither of us were the throw up during stress type). We didn’t want to be worried and hungry, so we figured just worried was best. Looking back, it was the funniest meal I’d ever had, because neither of us said a word to each other.

It was clear we were both to wrapped up in our thoughts of hopping out a plane to even speak (food was great though).

Arriving at Skydive Spa

I didn’t realize I was able to get more anxious, but when we parked and began walking to the entrance my palms became waterfalls. I’ve heard other people’s stories of when they skydived for the first time and never truly understood what they meant, at that moment I did.

Walking through the front door, we were greeted by incredibly nice staff and a large open floor of people folding parachute packs. That’s it, that’s the moment it hit me the hardest. Just kidding, it got worse.

The staff were very accommodating and spoke far better English than I spoke French, so I am by no means complaining when I say there was a slight communication barrier. We had picked a random skydiving place with no regard to their accommodations and just kind of hoped for the best.

Despite us being the only two people there that ONLY spoke English, they were very reassuring and helpful! We ended up getting a safety brief to just the two of us while the other people we’d jump with got an in-depth brief in French.

I really felt like we missed some info since our briefing took about 3 minutes while their briefing took a solid 10-13 minutes. That made me a little nervous, but with a language barrier, there’s only so many ways someone can tell you “Don’t be dumb and do what your tandem tells you”.

The waiting game

After all the paperwork signing and safety brief, we were given some fancy jumpsuits with little straps on the thighs. Those straps were unsurprisingly used to pull your legs up when landing so you can literally scoot your butt across the ground to slow down. Cool, as a guy, sounds fun (sarcasm).

As we were partnering up with who we’d be jumping with (obviously I was jumping tandem since it was my first time), I was the only one without a partner. Remember how I said it got scarier, this is that moment. As I looked around, I began to worry, “Was there a misunderstanding? Did they think I was jumping solo?! What’s happening, is my guy late because he got really drunk last night and won’t be able to function a parachute?!”. Yes, the ideas got dumber and more ridiculous with time.

Eventually, I talked to someone with a clipboard (she seemed official) and asked who I was jumping with. She said a name I couldn’t pronounce, and I asked where he was. After a second of looking around, then down at the clipboard, she stops and goes “oh”, and points directly up to a group of people falling out of the sky to point out the only guy wearing what looked like shorts. My jump partner was currently falling to Earth with someone else.

He was going to do two consecutive jumps and at first, I was relieved there wasn’t a mix up. That was until I heard screaming and looked up to see my partner spinning in circles (voluntarily) and scaring the hell out of the person he was with. “Great, I’m going to die of a heart attack at 21” was my only thought.

Boarding the plane!

Eventually my guy lands, unclips, and rushes over to me before introducing himself. He was the last person we were waiting on, so we all begin to board the plane.

The plane wasn’t large and is something you see on movies being used to smuggle small amounts of drugs. Not the friendliest comparison but it’s all I got. We all line up on the seats so we can easily be strapped to our partner before hopping out, my heart is now beating fast enough to dance to.

Before I know it, we’re off speeding down the runway. As we get enough lift to get off the ground, I notice a little turbulence. “Ok, I’ve flown before, a little turbulence isn’t bad”, I think. Then there’s more turbulence, worst than before.

Eventually, the plane is shaking around like it’s a saltshaker and a chef is trying to get the last specks of salt out. I thought the plane was broken and we were about to skydive before we even got out of the plane. Nope, it was business as usual.

I guess it’s normal for smaller planes to have a level of turbulence that causes you to rethink your entire life.

TIME TO JUMP!

I look out the window and people are ants, the plane is still rocking, and then a little light comes on at the front of the plane. My mind stops, time stops, and I strongly considering showing everyone on this plane what it looks like for a grown man to dehydrate from crying.

No time for nonsense, the door slides open and the solo jumpers are already on their feet approaching the gaping hole in the plane. They plan on jumping together and two straddle a pole on the outside of the plane. Then I realize, “That guy is on the outside of a plane, in the sky” and that thought took away a lot of the fear. The fear wasn’t gone because he was being brave or anything, it was because my brain couldn’t process how absolutely ridiculous the sight was.

Eventually the tandem jumpers (me included) begin scooting ourselves down the bench to get out, I’m the second one jumping. I watch the first two guys sit on the ledge of the door with their feet hanging out and just like that, they’re gone.

“S#!t, it’s my turn.”

Before I realize what’s happening, my feet are dangling out of this plane (that’s still shaking) and the guy I have entrusted my life asks me to move my head to the side so he can see.

“You got it! I’ll move my head if it helps, hell, I’ll give you my bank info if you need it to get me out of this alive!”

And just like in other stories of skydiving, he counted down from three before jumping, and jumped on two… asshole.

The first few seconds of falling, my stomach became one with my throat and I could taste the lunch from earlier. Just kidding, I couldn’t taste anything because my mind was fully focused on screaming internally.

But that was it, that was the worst of it. Honestly, after my stomach hit my throat and returned to its normal position, every single fear and worry of jumping was just gone. I can’t explain it and it doesn’t make any sense, but I opened my eyes (we had goggles on for the wind) and felt absolutely zero fear.

We were just peacefully falling, and the ground didn’t seem to even be coming at us that fast. Sadly, we were only able to freefall for so long, because you know, the ground is coming. But I loved every minute of it and even parachuting was so calming that I could’ve floated down for hours and never gotten sick of the view.

After a few minutes, we came down to land and as expected scooted to a stop. I got up, felt an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment (even though I did nothing whatsoever) and walked to greet my friend.

Just like that, all that anxious anticipation and fear was replaced with a feeling a tranquility. What a rollercoaster of emotions.

Would you do it again?

Skydiving truly is a one of a kind experience. I highly recommend for everyone to try it once and I may do it again someday. I don’t feel the need to do it anymore as it’s marked off my bucket list. But overall it was a moment I’ll always remember and am so glad I didn’t back out.

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10 Must See Castles in Germany

neuschwanstein

Germany’s Best Castles

One of my favorite things about living in Germany was visiting the numerous castles spread throughout the country.

Apparently, there are roughly 20,000 castles in the country, while the count may be off a little because of how castles are defined in different districts. From personal experience, I can attest there are a lot!

I can’t remember a road trip through Germany where I didn’t see at least one small castle on a hill somewhere. In fact, there are even castle hotels in Germany that allow you to stay at the castle!

So even if these castles aren’t what you’re looking for, I guarantee you’ll stumble on plenty of others!

Let’s get to it! These are (in my opinion) the best castles to see while you’re in Germany!

Neuschwanstein

This one shouldn’t come as a surprise and will be on every list of “castles in Germany”.

This fairy-tale castle is one of the most visited in Europe, averaging roughly 6,000 visitors a day! A lot of the rooms are open to view and walk through, so you get to experience much more than the outside.

When we first went to Neuschwanstein, it had been on my bucket list for years. Finally seeing it in person made was well worth the wait.

Once you get to the castle, there’s a short hike from a small town below up to the front gate. At first it looks like a normal castle (albeit very well maintained). Once you get inside, the history starts to fill your lungs and the castle only gets better the longer you’re there.

If you have the time, there’s an adjacent mountain to the hill the castle sits on. It can be easily reached with a cross of a bridge and short hike. This hillside gives some of the best views of the Neuschwanstein castle and is where many of the famous pictures come from.

Hohenzollern

Hohenzollern

Hohenzollern was the first castle I ever went to in Germany and it set some pretty high expectations for the rest.

After numerous constructions and rebuilds, the Hohenzollern castle takes up a fair amount of space on top of Hohenzollern Mountain. It can easily be seen from the road leading up to it and almost looks small from a distance. But don’t be fooled, there’s a lot of castle to explore!

Like many castles in Germany, Hohenzollern also has an onsite restaurant that I recommend. There’s nothing better than indulging in German history and food!

Schloss Heidelberg

Heidelberg

The earliest structures of this castle were built in the early 1200s, so it’s been a part of German history for a very long time. Its age is not the only interesting part of Schloss Heidelberg. The castle has been under numerous different rulers and once burned after being struck twice by lightning.

The castle has been reconstructed multiple times because of its unlucky history. But today it still stands strong atop overlooking the city of Heidelberg.

I recommend getting a tour of the grounds as there’s a lot to learn about the castle and the town below. Additionally, there’s a lot more to do in the city of Heidelberg and I loved every minute I spent exploring the city.

Lichtenstein

Lichtenstein

Located on the edge of the Swabian Alps, The Lichtenstein Castle is precariously positioned on the side of a small cliff. Similar to Schloss Heidelberg, this castle has gone through being destroyed and rebuilt multiple times.

Despite its rough history, it still stands strong and is a must-see destination for lovers of history.

Also, make sure you don’t go during December or January when the castle is closed. The first time we went, I made the mistake of assuming they were open during the winter. Surprise, they weren’t.

Mespelbrunn

Mespelbrunn

Remember all of those stories and movies growing up of moated castles with angry alligators in them? This is one of those castles! Ok, maybe there aren’t alligators swimming in the moat, but this castle still has a really cool moat.

Mespelbrunn isn’t the largest castle on the list, so don’t expect this to be an all-day touring event. That being said, there is still plenty to see and enjoy here!

Schwerin Castle

Schwerin

Another fairy-tale castle that will leave you awestruck; the Schwerin Castle is one of the best maintained castles in Germany.

The castle grounds are incredibly well kept, and gardens remind me of the scenery in Alice in Wonderland. Expect to be overwhelmed with the beauty and if you’re a real history buff, make sure you sign up for their guided tour through the castle!

Burg Rheinstein

The longer I go into this list, the more nostalgic I get for the home I had in Germany. This castle brings back even more memories of movie castles overlooking rivers and drawbridges to let in friends. Yes, the drawbridge for this castle is fully functional!

The castle overlooks the Rhine and is known as the Romantic Burg Rheinstein due to it’s amazing views and calming vibe. So, if you’re looking for a place to spend a romantic getaway during your time in Germany, this castle should be at the top of your list!

Burg Eltz

Eltz

A castle pulled directly from the Middle Ages, Burg Eltz holds a historic fantasy of a 1300s Germany.

Burg Eltz has the unique aspect of not being ravaged/damaged by war or disaster. It seemed many of Germany’s castles met unfortunate times, but Burg Eltz remains unscathed. In fact, many of the original furnishings are still in the castle today.

We’re also avid hikers and the Eltz area is full of amazing hiking opportunities, making this castle the perfect destination for outdoors enthusiasts.

Sigmaringen

Sigmaringen

The Sigmaringen Castle dominates the hillside overlooking the town below. While the castle has a lot of similar features to most German castles, the architecture has a strangely different feel, despite being so familiar.

Similar to Heidelberg, this castle sits above a city with a lot of attractions of its own, making it a great weekend destination! If you’re looking for a full German experience, castle, food, and experiencing the local economy, Sigmaringen is a great place to do it!

Lowenburg Castle

Visiting Lowenberg Castle will have you on your toes, as you’ll be expecting a dragon to appear and storm in at any moment. This castle is exactly what I picture in my mind when I think of a medieval castle.

Unlike most of the other castles on the list, Lowenburg isn’t that old. Being built in the late 1700’s (construction finished in early 1800’s), this fairy tale palace is actually younger than the United States of America.

Despite its young age, it still has a lot to see and history to offer. The inside itself is astonishing and I highly recommend the tour!

Enjoy the Castles!

Best Castles in Germany

My fondest memories of Germany were exploring castles. If you’re a person who loves to learn about history and walk around fairy-tale structures, then Germany is one of the best destinations to have on your list.

I can’t thank the German university friends I met during my stay as they introduced me to the “art of castle exploration”. If you’re an expat and looking for adventure, it’s one the best things you can do while you’re here. 

Don’t forget to take a break from the sights and enjoy some genuine German cuisine as well!

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Amazing Castles in Germany

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Travel Guide to Machu Picchu Peru

Top of Machu Picchu

Visiting Machu Picchu Peru

Visiting Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu! One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu easily lives up to the hype that it generates. Even after 600 years of it resting in the Andes, it’s still such an awe-inspiring site that it’s become one of my most recommended places to visit. Honestly, much of our trip to Peru was centered around getting to, and touring Machu Picchu.

So, what exactly does Machu Picchu entail and what makes it so great?

The site itself has been around for roughly six centuries and survived the Spanish conquest, mostly due to its well-hidden location. The small town, believed to be a place for Incan rulers to rest and get closer to their gods, is still very well preserved and maintained.

It consists of numerous stone houses, places of worship, and a very sophisticated water dispersion system. If it wasn’t obvious enough that the Incan’s were skilled engineers and builders, Machu Picchu stands as a monument to show just how innovative and genius of a people they were.

But enough of the history lesson, lets get into how to get there!

Hiking Machu Picchu

How to get to Machu Picchu

I’ll go into more specific detail below, but the overview of our trip was to:

  1. Fly int Lima, Peru
  2. Connecting flight to Cuzco, Peru
  3. Train to Agua Calientes (town at the base of Machu Picchu)

So, as far as the details go, the best way to get to Machu Picchu is by flying into Peru’s capital city, Lima, and then taking a connecting flight to Cuzco (Cusco).

The airport is small at Cusco so navigating it won’t be difficult, but I strongly encourage you to have some transportation setup in advance, or at least have an address of where to go next. If you don’t have a car coming to get you, no worries, there are usually plenty of taxi’s out-front offering rides.

We stayed in Cusco for a few nights just to experience the city, but it can be scheduled to land and immediately ride to one of the train stations to disembark for Aguas Calientes.

Top of Machu Picchu

Getting from Cusco to Machu Picchu

There are 3 main ways to get from Cuzco to Machu Picchu.

  1. Hike the Inca Trail
  2. Car/Bus
  3. Train

Hiking to Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail

Many people take up the option to hike the Inca Trail to Aguas Calientes from Cuzco. The Inca Trail consists of a few separate trails that have different scenery and altitudes, but all end up at Machu Picchu. There’s the Classic Trail, Mollepata Trail, and the One Day Trail, that make up what is know as the Inca Trail.

I have yet to hear negative reviews about taking the trail and everyone seems to report that it’s a phenomenal trip (I’ll still be taking the train). If the hike is something you’re interested in, be sure to book out far in advance, as there is a limit on how many tourists are allowed on the trail each day.

Taking a Car/Bus

This is obviously an option, but I don’t recommend it. Renting a car will cost more than a train ride, the bus will be inconvenient and eat up a good part of your day, and a taxi will be way to expensive. If this is the only option, then take it, but be aware there are better options.

Train from Cusco to Machu Picchu

Taking a train was the option we chose, and it was nice and relaxing. One warning though, we had an issue purchasing online where the payment was submitted twice, and it double charged us (we used Inca Rail). We did get a refund on the second charge, but just make sure if you purchase online, don’t hit submit again if it’s loading slow!

As far as options for trains, the two main competitors are Inca Rail and Peru Rail. Depending on what you want out of the train ride, each company offers a few different selections. Some packages are simple train rides while others seem to be luxury rides.

We went with the simplest and if you’re looking to budget, the most affordable options we found were with Inca Rail. Regardless of the company you choose, they all end up at Aguas Calientes and I encourage booking at least 1 to 2 nights in Aguas Calientes as it makes the traveling easier and walking around the town at night was relaxing.

Getting to Machu Picchu From Augas Calientes

Getting to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

We stayed overnight in Aguas Calientes so we were able to get a good nights rest prior to ascending the mountain. Be prepared to see a lot of people while you’re up there too, Machu Picchu is a very popular destination. Our tickets into the ruins were for 0800, and it was fairly crowded that early.

So, the best time we figured to go was earlier if you’re able, or even around noon.

The options to get to the peak include almost constant bus departures or hiking up. If you take a bus it will only be around a 20-minute ride before you reach the entrance. We decided to hike as we wanted to stretch our legs and enjoy the mountain. We didn’t regret it either, as it only took about an hour and it was a great workout!

Also, if you’re like me and want to hike but might be concerned with the safety, don’t be. The hike was very safe and there wasn’t a single part of the ascent that looked sketchy or off putting. I do recommend taking a hiking bag for a few snacks as food at the top can be pricy.

Aguas Calientes

Where to stay in Machu Picchu

The closest lodge to Machu Picchu is the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, all other options are down the hill in Aguas Calientes. This was actually preferred for us as there were plenty of places to eat in Aguas Calientes and some nice nightlife.

We ended up staying in the Hotel Ferre since it was very affordable and comfortable. We like to find a middle ground between budget and still having hot water.

There are multiple other options in the town though, but I suggest going with a hotel as it’s not that expensive. If you are really looking for a budget option though, Airbnb does have some cheap offers. 

Where to eat in Machu Picchu

On the mountain itself, there are two main restaurants. I don’t need to show a map to them as you won’t miss them, they make up 2 of the 4 buildings at the entrance. That being said, TAKE SNACKS from Aguas Calientes for your trip up, as the food at the top will cost more (no surprise there).

You can eat while you’re up there, but I suggest having a decent breakfast and carrying small snacks for your time at Mach Picchu. Once you get back to Aguas Calientes, then you can hit the local restaurants and have a few pisco sours!

Machu Picchu Map

map of machu picchu

Don’t forget your map of Machu Picchu! You’ll be surprised how big the ruins are and how much walking there is to do, a map will come in handy!

Sites to See in Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu has a lot to offer once you get up there, as you probably guessed from the map. While I recommend walking through the entire site, including the terraces, below are some great options that pack some history.

The Watchmans Hut

You’ll see the Watchmans Hut not long after entering the ruins. It’s also a perfect place to get a view over Machu Picchu.

Funerary Stone

funerary stone machu picchu

Next to the Watchman’s Hut is the funerary stone. There are still multiple theories onto what the rock was used for, but some believe it was meant for sacrificial purposes.

Temple of the Sun

temple of the sun

The Temple of the Sun represents some of Machu Picchu’s best craftsmanship. The temple was most likely a place used for astronomical observations and gives a great view of the surrounding Andes.

Temple of Three Windows

Three Windows Machu Picchu

Located in the Royal Sector, the temple of three windows perfectly frame the 3 facing mountains. You’ll also notice that the stones are much larger than many of the surrounding building materials, another testament to the Incan’s ingenuity.

Sun Gate

Located off site of Machu Picchu, the sun gate offers an amazing view slightly above Machu Picchu and the surrounding Andes. It’s a somewhat steep climb up so it may be tiring, but the views are well worth it.

Huayna Picchu

Huayna Picchu or “Young Peak” is the mountain that sits directly behind Machu Picchu. This is a more difficult trek to get through due to the altitude, but the views give a perfect site of Machu Picchu from above.

Central Plaza

Central Plaza Machu Picchu

Undoubtedly, you’ll find yourself here as you walk around Machu Picchu. The central plaza is the main open area in the center of the ruins and is usually populated with a few alpacas grazing on the grass.

FAQ’s and Tips about Machu Picchu

  1. Best times to visit Machu Picchu – The best time to visit Machu Picchu is between June and August, which is also it’s peak travel season. Between June and August, Peru reaches its coolest and driest months, making it easier to climb and experience Machu Picchu.
  2. Adjusting to the altitude – Altitude sickness is common among Peru tourists. Many of the local shops offer coca-based medicine to help with the headaches and fatigue. Also, make sure to drink plenty of water as your body will be using more adjusting to the altitude.
  3. Currency – The Peruvian Sol is the currency used and it’s best to carry cash on you as not everywhere will take card.
  4. Language – The language used throughout Peru is Spanish and it’s very similar to what’s taught in most schools as formal Spanish.