Visiting Machu Picchu is Overrated

I was going to visit Machu Picchu for the first time. It’s an iconic tourist attraction in South America that everyone really should see. It seems as if everyone around the world knows about Machu Picchu and the distinctive image of the site, is plastered everywhere. If you don’t believe me click here and you will see a slew of Google pictures that have the same exact image over, and over, and over again.

My excursion started on a cool day.  I walked outside, past the kids playing soccer, and bought a few snickers bars that would cost me roughly $2.00 a piece. In comparison at Wal-Mart in the United States, you can buy them for less than $0.75 cents each.

I knew exactly what I was going to see, but I didn’t realize how indescribable and mysterious Machu Picchu  really is. It is nowhere near as overrated as I initially imagined and every time I would turn to view the famous site again, I couldn’t help but say to myself:

Visiting Machu Picchu is incredible.

The sheer magnitude of what the Inca’s built at Machu Picchu, will send your mind into a frenzy of thought. The train ride there is rather interesting.  The Inca capital Cusco, was more intriguing than I thought it would be, and the city of Machu Picchu itself while small and simple, had a romantic charm to it.

Machu Picchu Peru

Machu Picchu Peru

I chose not to hike all the way to Machu Picchu because I was so short on time. If you read this blog on a regular basis, you know that I day trade emini futures and I didn’t have the time, to spend days walking on a well traveled trail to see Machu Picchu.

I didn’t even spend an hour to walk up the dirt road to see it, instead I opted for the bus ride. This puts my laziness on exhibition rather well, since I arrived in 20 minutes. I was quite impressed with the efficiency in Peru from the second I arrived. This included my endeavor to visit Machu Pacchu.

As I walked through the gates, I was immediately greeted by the tour guide mafia. There are not to be confused with the taxi mafia, the guys who want to give you a tour of the entire Machu Picchu region. They always open with the pickup line saying, hello my friend. This leads to my regular response, what’s up Pablo?

This descends into a conversation of why a gringo speaks such good Spanish, which soon leads me to respectfully excuse myself.

Poses at Machu Picchu

The Wandering Trader Pose at Macchu Picchu

Instead of dealing with the tour guide mafia, I did what any experienced traveler does.  I tagged along behind another group.

My experience has led me to back off, when someone approaches me aggressively. Regardless of whether they are trying to sell me something, or take a tour or a taxi.  I always feel somehow, like I’m getting hustled or being taken advantage of.

That is not a good feeling, which is why I immediately refuse or walk away

When you feel like you’re getting hustled, you most likely are being hustled. I decided to take the long route since I wanted to see the Inca bridge.  Once I laid my eyes for the first time on Machu Picchu, I was totally speechless.

I had questions, to which no one seemed to have the exact answer to.  Most of the tour guides spoke in “we think this is like this because” or “we think it is because”.  Why is the lawn so green? I quickly retracted that particular question, as I knew that they watered it regularly, simply to keep the tourists happy.

I meandered along the pathway, capturing my memories of Peru with my typical Wandering Trader pointing picture.  I eventually made my way to the Inca Bridge.  The bridge was sealed off and for good reason. The bridge seem to consist of a few pieces of wood tied together. Oh Peru, here you are!

Inside Machu Picchu

Inside Machu Picchu

I did what any adventurous traveler will do, by moving the barrier aside. I then soon proclaimed myself king of the bridge, after I had crossed it. Today, I am one of those travelers that can say, that I not only visited Machu Picchu, but I was one of the few people who actually crossed the Inca bridge.

How terrifying, I would never cross it again, I know now why they have barriers on the Inca Bridge.

After the frightening experience crossing the bridge, that I had really no business doing, I quickly crossed the bridge back. This time more carefully, as I headed back towards Machu Picchu  to tour the entire complex.  The walk back wasn’t as fun, since I had the suspicion that I would soon get stopped. A result of me crossing the homemade wooden barrier.

I entered the complex and started to explore with my video camera, in the record position! I overheard a conversation and decided to listen in.. “who invented the first telephone”? asked the tour guide. He quickly interrupted by telling us, it was the Incas!

Peru Countryside

Peru Countryside From Walk To the Inca Bridge

We approached a small open aired corridor and he had a few people stare into squared crevices that were in the wall.  I wasn’t sure what to think of it, until I heard the other women who had her face in another crevice say, “I can hear you”!  Apparently the Inca’s invented the telephone, but our Western historians apparently didn’t get the message.

It’s one of many small happenings, that makes Machu Picchu so interesting.  One of the cool things that I was able to see was the llamas grazing in the field, right in the middle of the complex. Like seeing Machu Picchu by itself wasn’t enough right? I was able to get some excellent shots of a baby alpaca, following behind its mother.

Machu Picchu is one of the most fascinating places that I have been to in South America. The only other times I have been left as deeply in thought, was at the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina, the sea turtles in French Guyana, the 2nd Jerusalem in Ethiopia, and when I was walking cheetahs in Zambia.  I don’t want to give you a full list of all the cool things that I have done, but the point is:

Machu Picchu is beyond unbelievable.

Now that Peru has shared its marred past with me, it is now time to get to know Peru on a more personal level.  I am even considering some overseas investing opportunities there.  Travelers should make sure to spend some time in Lima, as prices keep rising. However, it is still a very affordable destination.


  1. Yes, Machu Piccu is incredible. I’m just sorry to hear about all the “mafias” there now. I was lucky enough to visit back in 1975, before it was full of tourists. I was travelling with a youth orchestra an we were the only ones there for the entire day. I somehow missed our bus back to Cuzco and was offered a ride by a resident who didn’t ask for a cent in return.

    1. Is there anywhere left on earth that hasn’t degenerated into a money making tourist trap? I went to Bali in 1985 and although tourism was on its way to destroying the place, it was nothing compared to the filthy polluted hell hole it has now become.

  2. Hi Marcello,

    Often when somewhere is drummed up to be the biggest/best it’s a let down. Sounds as if Machu Picchu delivered in the end though.

    I have yet to visit – haven’t been anywhere in South America yet – saving it for a rainy day:)

    I’d love to see those mum and baby llama shots.

  3. Hey
    Looking forward to getting there myself in a few months — so it was good to be inspired by your pictures. But I am a bit confused by the title of your post ´´Visiting Machu Picchu is Overrated´´ ?????
    If you enjoyed it … then why ´´overrated´´ ?? (Or am I missing a joke 🙂

  4. Ah-hah! your title for this blog got me! Macchu is lingering on my list of places to see – Ankor Wat, Petra and the Pyramids of Egypt have since been visited and crossed off! But! when I saw your headline, I thought, “No! Say it isn’t so! and you did!” So glad to hear it’s worth the trek! Meantime, just found you via Twitter. We live in Tuscany right now, and I’m looking forward to getting to know a fellow lover of travel better. See you around the globe! Ciao, Gina!

    1. It was definitely amazing Gina.. I would highly recommend a visit. I didn’t do the hike because I was short on time but I think it would have been amazing either way

  5. That sounds amazing! I had heard a rumor that Peru was planning on shutting off Machu Pichu to visitors for preservation reasons, but surely that’s false? I assume the amount of tourism it generates will keep it open for business long enough for me to swing by.

    Good post!

    1. It might have been for certain parts of Machu Picchu or they may limit the amount of visitors per day… I highly doubt they will be cutting it off completely.. Thanks for the comment Heaton!

    1. Considering that we tried to walk across it and almost fell to our death? Yes it it because of security.. its just a few pieces of wood put together… lol

  6. I did the hike to Machu Picchu some 20 years ago. Met up with some other travellers in Cuzco and sneaked out “under the cover of darkness” to avoid all the guide mafia even back then.
    Peru was very troubled back then, and no-one in their right mind went there.
    Camping out in all the ruins along the way for 3 nights, bathing in the old ruins in which the plumbing still works (OK, it is a series of stone aqua ducts, still does the job). Final night in Huana Picchu, waking to see Machu Picchu shrouded in mist from your tent door (with icicles hanging from),before the final descent, sends a mysterious chill down your spine that only defy’s the ambient temperature.
    Getting into the main area before the regular tourists were even out of bed, enhanced the memories of one the the greatest highlights of my travelling experiences.
    I loved Machu Picchu, and you missed out on so much by zipping through there so quickly – slow down brother, and enjoy the scenery 🙂

    1. I both agree and disagree Greg… the ruins are great but I was after just seeing the main ruins. Many times the way I travel is much slower but I didn’t have much interest in getting to know Peru because outside of Machu Picchu and the worlds deepest canyon its really not that unique, you can find much of what you see in Peru in other places around the world like Bolivia. Do agree with you thought that I should slow down a bit.. thanks for the comment Greg

  7. 2 bucks for Snickers bars?
    It’s weird how this “remote paradise” has turned into a commercial “Disneyland of the Andes”.
    I’m still aching to see Machu Picchu, though…

  8. Yes, so pumped to go here. I have never heard anyone play down its awesomeness. Some great photo opportunities to be had there for sure, i may have to seek some from places that aren’t the standard see posted all over the net type. Cheers

  9. The title is incorrect! Overrated means people believe it’s worth more than it actually is. I went into this post thinking you were going to say it wasn’t that great, but you said the opposite!
    Overrated: to have a higher opinion of (someone or something) than is deserved. To praise too highly. Thus Macchu Picchu Is NOT overrated, it’s correctly well-regarded.

  10. Marcello,
    Did you buy your train ticket from Cuzco to Machu in Peru or online before your arrived in SA? I am attempting to buy my train ticket online, but they keep wanting me to send a photo of my passport along with a photo of my cc and a signed form authorizing the ticket purchase. Very confused. Sounds like a recipe for identity theft? Ive read that if you don’t buy your train tickets far in advance you may not get on one as they fill up? Please advise, thanks! Oh, traveling to Peru Mid Oct.

  11. Thanks for the great article. My boyfriend and I are going in Jan. 2015. We are trying to go as cheap as we can. we will be in peru for 1 month. can you tell us the cheapest and safest way to get to Machu-picchu from cussco? it looks like train is spendy. we will be doing the gringo trail from Lima to MP so any advice would be great.

    1. Cheapest would be bus… although the flights are quite inexpensive as well. I wouldn’t consider Peru that dangerous so you should be alright in that respect.

  12. Bullshit. It is not overrated. I study archeology and native american history so for me it was a dream trip and I wanna go soon again.

  13. Sounds like am amazing trip. I’m planning on going next summer. Can I pick your brain for details that might not be in the travel guides?

  14. Its a must visit. Amazing place and lots of things to do around Urubamba and the little towns. Its not just Macchu Picchu. Well then Im a peruvian livving abroad. 🙂

  15. Haha… you know..they closed the Inca bridge because there was a casualty 😉 wonder if you had gone, had u known that before.
    As for not doing the Inca trail…i can sorta agree. It’s crowded, pricy and takes longer than it should. But it is still one of the most beautiful hikes in the world. But still glad to read a difference perspective!

    1. Thanks Susan. I speak nine languages and English is not my native tongue, therefore I sometimes get confused with colloquial phrases when it comes to putting pen to paper. I really appreciate feedback and comments on improvements in grammar from readers like yourself. Happy travels

      1. I thoroughly enjoyed your article and, until reading the comments, never even noticed your grammatical errors 🙂 My imagination was totally focused on your wonderful description of the Peruvian adventure. Hoping to explore it for myself someday 🙂

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