Travel to Machu Picchu On a Budget Or convenient
I really didn’t know, that it was a long travel to Machu Picchu from Cusco. When I mean long, it depends on how you end up doing it. Because when I arrived in to Cusco, I understood that there are many ways to Machu Picchu as there is company that will take you there.
Question to ask yourself
There are many ways you can travel to Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu. The question is how much money do you wanna spend to travel there, and how comfortable do you wanna do it? There is almost always a gap between comfortable and price. You can do it high-end, midrange, on a budget. It all depends on how much money, comfort, or time you want to sacrifice. It all depends on your need.
How to travel to Machu Picchu
Option: Budget Friendly
Arrive to Machu Picchu
We decided to do a budget friendly travel to Machu Picchu/Aguas Calientes and then a mid-range back. Because we wanted and experience, but also the opportunity to see bought ways in and out of Machu Picchu.
How did we do it? First we booked online tickets for Machu Picchu. This you have to do before you can start the travel to Machu Picchu. You will need a ticket for entering.
Step 1. Book tickets to Machu Picchu
First Reserve, Second Pay and then enter Reserve number to get the ticket and then print them out.
– Bring ID and credit card you bought ticket with
– Bring passport, so you get the Machu Picchu stamp
Step 2. Bus
When traveling to Machu Picchu on a budget it will be by the local bus from Cusco with all the Peruivans and some other crazy backpacking tourists.
In the morning there goes buses from 07. and 07.30 if I’m not completely wrong. You take a taxi to the bus station in the morning for 4 soles. Buy your tickets for 15 soles to Santa Maria. The bus ride takes around 8 hours to travel from Cusco, everything before is a bonus. (If you are a woman and need to use the bus toilet bring toilet paper, it is a challenge to use it – bumpy ride)
The View is scenic and curvy, so if you get car sick easily this is maybe not the bus ride to recommend. When you book your seats, make sure that you don’t end up in the back seats. Ask for no further back then 30 seat if possible.
You will be hanging out with the locals of Peru. It is authentic. We were maybe 8 gringos and 40-50 people from Peru. If you get hungry on the bus trip, there will be people jumping on selling things from water, soda, to popcorn and corn. Anyway bring you own snacks as well.
We left on the 07.30 bus arrived to Santa Maria at 15.00 (I didn’t book my bus ticket in advance, since I’m traveling off-season May, you can go one day in advance and make sure you have the tickets.) The bus left at around 09.00! The charm of South America.
Step 3. Car
Arrive in Santa Maria, take a quick-lunch and toilet break. Lunch for no more than 10 soles – 3 courses. Then take a coletivo from Santa Maria to Hidro-eletrico station, 15 soles. Many guys are offering rides. It takes two hours on a crazy road that is probably similar to the death road in Bolivia (Haven’t done death road in Bolivia, I maybe think I know how it feels, after this ride). A really cool adventure if you like some craziness and rally driving.
Arrived to Hidro-Electrico station at 17.00 – 2 hours car ride.
Step 4. Walk
Walk from the Hidro Electrio station into Aguas Calientes, it´s free and takes about around 2 hours. It was really nice with a walk after so many hours sitting, and the scenery is beautiful walking through the valley.
It really didn’t butter me to take the walk. (Bring a small daypack with the things you only need, and storage your big backpack in the Hostels in Cusco for your return). Remember to have water and some food for desperate hunger attacks.
Bring a flesh light, because maybe you have to walk the last 1 km in the darkness. Arriving in to Aguas Calientes find a room for the night, we had one for 25 soles and was perfect for that one night. We went for dinner and then to bed at 21.00.
Arrived to Aguas Calientes at 18.30 – 19.30 hours in high-speed.
This travel is the longest trip to Machu Picchu with around 12 hours, but very cheap only 30 Soles – 10 USD dollars one way.
Step 5. Machu Picchu
Option A. If you want a rewarding and a free trip up to Machu Picchu you stark walking 04.30 in the morning. It takes around 1-1.45 minutes to walk up, depends on your health. It is many steps to reach the top. As one guy said it´s a long way to top if you wanna rock. If you are walking bring a new t-shirt, you will be sweaty.
Option B. If you are a bit lazy and wanna be picture perfect for Machu Picchu just take the bus up. It´s so nice and easy. You saved your legs for doing more walking on the actually sites. It cost around 40 soles I think for one-way. You can choose if you want to buy return ticket as well our you walk down for free after. It has stairs, so if you have problems with your knees remember that, when taking the decisions.
I arrived at Machu Picchu around 06.10. There were so much fog, that I didn’t see anything. So really no rush. Except if you want to have the sites almost for yourself, then you have to do option A. The most tourist arrives from 10.00
I was satisfaied around 14.00 (8 hours, many are satisfied with just 4 hours on the site) Then walked down to Aguas Calients for lunch.
Depart from Machu Picchu
Then I will highly recommend to take a mid-range option, either Option A or B.
Option A – In and Out. When returning back from Machu Picchu, you know have the choice to go directly to the train station and take a train to Ollantaytambo (will cost you 62 use dollars one way). Buy the ticket the first night you arrive to Aguas Calientes or buy it online. Then it will take you 2 hours with the train, and you will arrive to Ollantaytambo station. From there you take a coletivo back to Cusco that takes around 2 hours and cost you 15 soles. Remember to ask where it put you of in Cusco – Plaza de Armas is a good stop. My friends decided to this option with an overnight stay in Ollantaytambo.
Option B – One more night. Stay one more night in Aguas Calientes and just enjoying the life and a good night sleep before going back to Cusco. Then take an early train and have scenic two hours trip trough the valley in an other directions out of Aguas Calientes then you arrived. With taking the train back you get to see bought ways into Aguas Calientes. Arrived to Ollantaytambo station, take a coletivo back to Cusco takes around 2 hours and cost you 15 soles. Remember to ask where it put you of in Cusco – Plaza de Armas is a good stop. (25-70 soles for one more night, 25 soles for lunch, 25 soles for dinner, free breakfast, 64 USD train ticket, 15 soles for coletivo back to Cusco – 2015) I decide to this option, because I wanted to see more and stress less.
Option C. Budget without/Company. Is to walk back from Machu Picchu to Hidro-Electrio Station and then from there take a coletivo. I don’t know if it possible to get a direct coletivo from Hidro electrio station to Cusco or if you only will reach Santa Maria, and from there you have to hope that it will come a return bus. I’m not so sure about this option if you want to do it make the research.
Option D. Budget with/Company There is an option with a company in Cusco that run with 2 days/1 night by Car from around 90-140 USD dollars as well, is also a budget friendly option.
Talk around with people see what would be the best fit for you. Remember you don’t wanna arrive exhausted to Machu Picchu. It´s supposed to be once in a lifetime and a spectacular day.
Arrive to Machu Picchu
Step 1. Train tickets
Book train tickets with return from either Perurail or other companies. Remember to bring your passport for the train also for Machu Picchu entrance and stamp. Around 150-300 USD for the train tickets, it depends.
Step 2. Colectivo
Take a Coletivo from Cusco to Ollantaytambo station, will coast around 15 soles, ask your hostel were you can find the Coletivo. Then jump on to your train to Aguas Calientes. Make sure you have a good margin for catching the train. If you have an hour our two in Ollantaytambo, just go for lunch, many good places to eat there and just kill some time before catching the train.
Depart from Machu Picchu
Step 3 Train & Colectivo
Take the train from Machu Picchu back to Ollantaytambo station. take a coletivo back to Cusco takes around 2 hours and cost you 15 soles. Remember to ask where it put you of in Cusco – Plaza de Armas is a good stop. In total it will take you around 5-6 hours to get back from Machu Picchu with this option on the return.
Happy travel to Machu Picchu