Buying a ticket for Machu Picchu–if you decide to do so on your own–is no small feat.
Before I tell you my tale, I will say if you want to go to Machu Picchu I highly recommend you book your adventure with a travel agent. There are many moving parts involved in visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site, including limited tickets for entrance to Machu Picchu itself, only 2 trains a day (the only way to get there other than walking), and strict rules all around.
Anyways, I went to buy my ticket online. The system is such that you register to go and are given a registration number. You then have 3 hours from that point to pay for your entry. Well I did this but the website wouldn’t take my credit card. Oh, the website only accepts visa credit cards. But it didn’t like my visa. Because there are limited entries each day, I didn’t want to wait until I got there to find out that all the spaces were sold out. So one of the other options was to go to the bank, the Banco de la Nacion de Peru, the national bank.
I had walked by a branch of that bank the other day and was shocked by the really, really long line outside. Was it pay day? My colleague later told me that that is where people have to go to pick up their social security checks, etc. so there’s always a long line.
Well, I really wanted a ticket to Machu Picchu so I decided to go when the bank first opened. The bank opens at 0830 so at 0825, when I arrived, there was already a long line but I had to try. I asked the guard if I was in the right place to buy a ticket to Machu Picchu, he confirmed that I was. So I got in line. Not long after a young guy asked me if this was the line to pay x bill or something, I don’t recall. I told him I had no idea and that I wasn’t from Peru. The older gentleman in front of me turned around and answered the guy’s question.
At 0830 on the dot the gates opened and the line that was going down the street walked its way into line but inside the bank. I was thirty-something-th in line and I braced myself for a long wait, I pulled my phone out and started to write. The security guard called out: no cell phones. Oops. I put my phone away and watched the people in line. I was a head taller than almost everyone else, that doesn’t happen often to me.
The line moved quickly actually and by the time I got to the front of the line I was half expecting to be told I was in the wrong place but no, the man only told me I had to pay with cash. So I paid for my ticket and was told I needed to use the registration number to go back online and enter it to confirm I had paid…and print my ticket.
Do you see why I suggest you use a travel agent?
**I did find this travel blog very helpful for information.