How to Get to Machu Picchu by Bus, Train, or Foot

Getting to Aguas Calientes From Cusco

  1. Doing the Inca Trail

Many travelers dream of completing the classic 4-day Inca Trail, although the rushed sometimes opt for an abbreviated 2-day version that is less physically demanding but still hits the trail highlights. Both the longer and the abbreviated trail boast a series of small ruins and stunning landscapes. They end on a high note at Intipunku Sun Gate, where awed hikers can look over the ruins of Machu Picchu citadel as first light hits.

You can only access the Inca Trail by purchasing a package from a licensed tour operator, and if the 500 permits that are allowed each day have already been reserved, you won't be able to go on that day. You must be licensed to operate hikes on the Inca Trail, so if your travel agency isn't licensed, as Inca World Travel is, then they will pass you off to a cheaper operator while charging a commission. Do your research when it comes to agencies, and reserve early. Also, if you plan on doing the Inca Trail, make it easy on yourself by allowing some time for acclimatization prior to undertaking it.

  1. Other Popular Hikes

If your heart was set on the Inca Trail, but there aren't any entrances left for your travel dates, there are other hikes available that offer just as much beauty and history. The most popular of these are:

  • The Salcantay Route: famed for its diverse topography, the route cuts across the scenic Mollepata Valley and then past the cold heights of Mt. Salcantay, up to where it meets with an original Inca trail that leads to the Llactapata ruins. There, you'll get you're first full view of Machu Picchu before walking downhill to a small train station that will take you the final leg to Machu Picchu. No permit is required, with groups leaving whenever enough people have signed up. Depending on the excursion you choose, it takes 5-8 days.
  • The Lares Route: Although less well-known, many locals argue that this is the route with the best views. It begins in the tiny town of Lares, in the valley of the same name, and proceeds to pass through several small towns where locals in traditional dress plant and herd and weave just as they have for generations. You'll see Mt Veronica from up close and admire several pristine high-altitude lakes, finishing up in Ollantaytambo, from where you take a 90 minute train for the last leg. It takes 3-5 days to do the trail.
  1. Going by Train

You can reach the town of Aguas Calientes (also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo) by train, departing from Poroy station, 20 minutes outside of Cusco, or Ollantaytambo station in the Sacred Valley, an hour and a half outside of Cusco. You have the choice of taking an Inca Rail or Peru Rail train.

  1. The Cheapest Route: Buses + Hiking
  • You can travel to Ollantaytambo by small combi bus for just US$5, and then catch another one to Km 83 along the train tracks. From here, you can follow the tracks and walk ten hours to arrive at Aguas Calientes.
  • The most preferred route by backpackers looking to save on the cost of train tickets is a series of buses from Cusco to Santa María, Santa María to Santa Teresa, and Santa Teresa to Aguas Calientes. It takes longer, and the time can vary unexpectedly depending on bus availability. For this reason, it's best left to those with a good deal of flexibility in their schedules. First, you take a bus from Cusco's terminal terrestre to Quillabamba, but disembark at the town of Santa María in the jungle brow, about 5 hours later. It costs about US$10. From here, you must take another bus to the nearby town of Santa Teresa, an hour and 45 minutes away. The cost is about US$3.50. In Santa Teresa, you can rest in Cocalmayo hot springs or continue on by taxi to the Hidroeléctrica station. It's an hour and 30 minutes away and will cost about US$1.50. From the Hidroeléctrica, you simply follow the train tracks to Aguas Calientes along a route marked by tunnels, bridges, and scenic pasages. The 6-mile walk takes 2 to 3 hours. You can also buy a cheap train ticket that runs the final leg to Aguas Calientes, takes 20 minutes, and costs around $8.

From Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu Citadel

If you're doing a two-day excursion, you'd then spend the night in Aguas Calientes and depart for the nearby ruins of Machu Picchu Citadel the following day. If you're doing it all in one day, you'd continue on immediately.

From Aguas Calientes, you can either take a 15 minute bus up to the ruins or hike for an hour and a h

Inca World Team
Publication date: 05 Ene 2015
Sources: <a href="">Carla Colon</a>

You may also be interested in this news