Hike, train or van? All the ways to get to Machu Picchu


Peru has some of the most breathtaking historical sites in South America, but Machu Picchu is the most famous. After deciding to explore the sacred place, tourists must decide how to get there – and this decision is crucial for the trip.

There are essential things that travelers should know before going to Machu Picchu. The nearest airport is located in Cusco, but travelers still have to travel another 210 km to Aguas Calientes, where they can finally reach the entrance. Due to the long distance, people often decide to spend at least one night in Aguas Calientes. Options for getting to Machu Picchu include minibuses, trekking, and trains, and the decision depends on the type of traveler and how much time they can spend in the area.

The easiest way to get to Machu Pichu

Reaching Machu Picchu takes a long time. The quickest and easiest way is to take a train that departs from Poroy (20 km from Custo) and the Sacred Valley of Ollantaytambo towards Aguas Calientes. Some more exclusive companies have departures from Urubamba. After arriving there, visitors still need to take the bus to the entrance.

The two companies operating in the region are PeruRail and Inca Railway, and it is recommended to book the tickets before arriving in Peru, as they are often full. Prices increase according to the services offered. Peru Rail, for example, offers four different types of trains: the Vistadome, Expedition, Sacred Valley trains and the Hiram Bingham luxury train, while the Inca Rail offers The Voyager, The 360º, The First Class and The Private.

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There is more than one path to the Inca City

The most traditional trail

the Inca Trail is the most traditional way adventurers arrive at Machu Picchu. It takes travelers four days to cover the nearly 40 kilometers and start in Ollantaytambo. The distance must seem short, but the high altitudes – up to 4,200 meters – are the main challenge. Even the most experienced climbers should arrive in Cusco a few days before to acclimatize to the altitude.

The Inca Trail ends at the Intipunku, also known as the Ground Gate, the main entrance to the Incas. The trail is also a unique opportunity to see a microcosm of Peru, with its biodiversity and landscapes. Travelers should book in advance, and it’s crucial to read reviews before choosing an agency.

There is another route to reach Machu Picchu

Inca Trail is indeed the most famous trek in South America, but there are other magnificent ways to reach Machu Picchu. The 60 kilometers Trekking in the Salkantay is becoming more and more popular and can be done in five days. The trail is named after one of the highest peaks in Peru, and some of the highlights of the trip include the Humantay Glacier and the ruins of Llactapata, part of the Inca culture.

According to the agency, travelers can also spend a night at Sky Camp, an exclusive campsite that overlooks the Salkantay and Huntay mountains. The rooms are exclusive glass domes that allow travelers to gaze at the stars.

Reach Machu Picchu through the jungle

For those who want to add more adrenaline to their trip, the Hike in the Inca Jungle is the most adventurous trekking In the region. Tourists can go downhill mountain biking, rafting, ziplining and jungle trekking. The four-day adventure is more adrenaline-driven than Inca culture, and people doing it will be sleeping in hostels or with locals.

The Inca Jungle Trek is available all year round, but the best time to do it is during the dry season, between May and September. The altitudes on this trek are lower, which means there is less chance of travelers suffering from altitude sickness. Of course, the last day of trakking is in Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu.

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Tourists can also visit another sacred site

Without a doubt, Machu Picchu is Peru’s most famous postcard, and it lives up to the hype. However, the region has another lost Inca city: Choquequirao, which means “cradle of gold” in Quechua. The place looks like Machu Picchu, but without the tons of tourists. The good news is that it is possible to combine the two sacred cities in a five-day trek.

Travelers can do this trek between March and December and cross deep canyons and cliffs. This is the perfect opportunity to visit the two most important Inca ruins.

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The cheapest way to go to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu can also be reached by an alternative route called hydroelectric. A popular alternative for budget tourists catch a van it costs about $19. The trip starts in Cusco and stops in Santa Teresa and the hydroelectric plant. Here, tourists must choose between taking a train for a 45-minute journey or – the most popular choice – walking three hours through the Vilcanota to Aguas Calientes.

Once in Aguas Calientes, travelers can take a bus to the entrance to Machu Picchu or continue walking for two hours. The minibus is the longest option and often takes between eight and ten hours. It is a good option for travelers on a budget or who have forgotten to book train tickets in advance.


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