I would venture to say that the absolute biggest myth about Machu Picchu is that you need to hike to get there, creating doubt about the feasibility of senior travel to Machu Picchu. The truth is that the most common way for even local Peruvians to visit Machu Picchu involves absolutely no hiking at all. That’s why we firmly believe that Machu Picchu is not only safe for seniors, but it’s also very accessible. As long as you can walk around, you can visit Machu Picchu.
A typical Machu Picchu tour involves taking a vehicle, train, and bus right up to the entrance of the archeological site. Walking around Machu Picchu itself is like walking around an outdoor museum. There’s a circuit you follow with well-defined paths that are relatively flat, which make the area safe for visitors of any age. If needed, there are even some spaces where you can sit on rocks to rest.
The only caveat is the altitude. Altitude can make any kind of physical effort (even walking) more difficult for anyone because there’s less oxygen when you’re so high up. Check with your doctor about whether you can travel to a place at high altitude (2,430 to 3,400 meters or 7,950 to 11,150 feet considering the descent from the city of Cusco where your plane will land to the Machu Picchu archeological site). It may also be worth asking if it’s safe for you to be prescribed altitude sickness pills, which you normally start taking 24 hours before ascending.
If you’re planning to visit Machu Picchu as a senior citizen, here are other tips to make your Machu Picchu trip as safe and enjoyable as possible:
- Plan at least 24 to 48 hours (1 to 2 days) to acclimatize to the city of Cusco before scheduling in your Machu Picchu tour.
- Prevent altitude sickness during your acclimatization period by avoiding eating fried food, drinking alcohol, and smoking.
- Sleep well to help your body adjust to the high altitude.
- Click here for more altitude tips for your Machu Picchu trip.
Here at Peru Travel With Purpose, when we’re asked “Can seniors go to Machu Picchu?” our answer is always a hearty “Yes!” because we believe that age isn’t a limitation. Although we don’t have the official data on the oldest person to have visited Machu Picchu, we’ve personally been fortunate enough to accompany even a 73-year-old traveler to the World Wonder on our Machu Picchu tours for seniors. We helped make their dream to visit the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu a reality, and we’d love to do the same for you on your travels in Peru too.