HOW DID I GET TO MACHU PICCHU?
Machu Picchu definitely is the greatest, most marvelous place I’ve visited. Honestly, no words nor pictures can make help me explain what’s it like to be standing at Huayna Picchu (the front mountain) seeing it with your own eyes. And of course, it’s a must do on your list if you go to Peru.
Getting to Machu Picchu can be as challenging as you want it to be. Take a hike, bus or train.
Firstly, you need to arrive in Lima. As you may know, Lima is the capital of Peru, it really is an overflowing metropolis with an international airport and actually, it’s one of the largest cities in South America. From Lima, you need to get to Cusco, you can do it by plane or bus depending on your time and budget.
- Airplane: It’s the fastest option and you’ll be in Cusco in one hour and a half, spending approximately around 34 - 62 dollars on the plane ticket.
- Bus: The best option if you have some free time in hand, you can choose from the "Lima-Nazca-Abancay-Cusco” route, where it takes about 18-22 hours to get to Cusco and also the "Lima-Nazca-Arequipa-Cusco”, where you’ll spend a few hours more, meaning 24-27 hours traveling. You can go stopping in small towns, visiting its little streets and knowing the lifestyle of Peruvians while traveling from one destination to the next.
Once you’re in Cusco, it just depends on how much money you want to spend and how long you want your trip to Machu Picchu to be, it can be one whole day go and return, or maybe 4-5 days trekking but whichever one you choose I really recommended you to secure the entrance tickets before your visit, it has limited access since some years ago and only 2,500 people can visit daily.
Going to Machu Picchu by train.
In my experience, I took the train because of planned schedule visits I had the following days so I couldn't hike 4-5 days. It was an amazing train ride, it had unbelievable landscapes, some hot cocoa and warm snacks and such a vibrant energy.
I went with a tour called American Inca Trail that was recommended to me, they charge you $265-$310 dollars depending on the class you choose. A minivan picked us at the hotel at 3:45 am and took us to Ollantaytambo, I must say since it’s really early in the morning, the sky and the stars looked spectacular, it was one of my favorite things.
We arrived at Ollantaytambo at 6:30 am more or less, the driver gave us our tickets for the train and left us at the station and we started looking around some stores with alpaca/llama sweaters, alpaca/llama foot warmers, and alpaca/llama everything.
The train departed at 7:00 am, so I truly recommend if you’re going to look around, don’t forget to look at the time and make sure train doesn’t leave you. It was a 4-hour long ride, and pretty fun. I got to take amazing pictures!
When we arrived at Aguas Calientes, we were told our guide would be there and since we didn’t saw him right away, we took some more pictures and almost got left there, so we ran to the bus station and they were waiting for us (gladly) and were the last ones (sorry peeps).
It was a 15 minutes ride up, and then we lost our group (again), but some native tour guides who were at the entrance started talking to us and helped us so so much, they called to the agency and since the group was already inside, they hired the tour guided who helped us and it was a private Machu Picchu tour (how about that).
If you choose another company like Peru Rail, basically it would be the same road, just a different train. To get to Machu Picchu there’s only Peru Rail or Inca Rail, but they’re very similar.
Our one hour tour ended being 2 and a half hours, we exhausted our tour guide of all the photos and questions... but you don't get to be in Machu Picchu every day even though I admit, we lost track of time. We didn't know our return bus to the train station in Aguas Calientes wasn't included in our tour; we trek the mountain down and it was so fun and so challenging, I truly recommend it.
I went by train because of all the other planned visits we had days after, but it’s not the only transport to get by, you can also take like an eight-hour ride between 3 buses stopping by little towns and it’s way cheaper. And also, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can trek all the way from Cusco to Machu Picchu, it’s 4-6 days trip approximately depending on your rhythm and attitude, but sure worth it if you’re up too long walks and nights full of stars.