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Cheapest way to do Machu Picchu

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Perth, Australia
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Cheapest way to do Machu Picchu

After no help from Lonely Planet and spending a whole day walking around Cusco to figure out the cheapest way to Machu Picchu from Cusco.... I thought Id share my findings.

There are 2 options. Go via Santa Terresa (if roads open) or go via Ollantaytambo.

Option 1 via Santa Terresa

-Get a collectivo to Santa Terresa for 50 solas or $16 US

-Next step has two options.. walk two hours on a train track that supposed to be beautiful but can be dangerous if it gets dark (another option is staying in a town along the walk). There is no permit needed to talk this walk. Or take the train for a 20min ride.

If your wanting a train ticket buy it here in Santa Terresa. You want Hidroelectrica train station to Aguas Calientes. $8 - $18 US. Be warned Hidreoelectrica isnt a train station its more of a stop in the middle of no where next to a Hydroelectric dam.

-Either way you will need to get a taxi ride from Santa Terresa to the Hidroelectrica Train station - a few dollars and about 20-30min inc a small walk.

-Arrive in Aguas Calientes and walk/hike 1 hour 30min up to Machu Picchu $46 US entry fee.

- Alternative (take the bus up or back down) $9pp US each way (Rip off)

Whole thing there and back was going to cost $94 US pp

However they have had bad weather and the road from Santa Maria to Santa Terresa (which you have to take) was closed due to mud slides and is very dangerous. This happens a lot Dec-Mar (wet season)..

Option 2.

2 day tour

Leave Cusco at 2pm catching a bus/collectivo ($3US pp) to Ollantaytambo (you could stay here a night its beautiful). Scenic train trip with glass roof from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. Make sure it is Inka Rail as its the only company to refund.. MP is constantly closed due to bad weather so this is a must.( Peru Rail didn't refund last week during bad weather but they are cheaper $35pp compared to $40 but Inka Rail looked much nicer) Then stay the night at a hostel ($15 US pp). Wake up and enjoy the day at Machu Picchu and maybe see the sunrise there. Return the same way at 2pm and be back in Cuzco for 6pm.

Can do it by yourself if you can find cheap train tickets for around $170 US or find a good tour operator.

You can find some tours for $170 US... (most others were $195 - $230)

WARNING: Be careful with your tour operators. These guys suck the nostalgic blood from the veins of Machu Picchu and will leave you high and dry. Especially avoid Mapi Trek Peru (near Jacks Cafe). They left us and 8 other people at ollantaytambo with no way to get home. So we had to pay extra and nothing was ever organised we constantly had to do it ourselves. However the newspaper listed 250 tour operators to avoid... so good luck finding one thats not dodgy. My recomendation is its easy enough to do by yourself and you can easily do it at your own pace. Just get train tickets and entry tickets in advance as they sell out. If you do choose a tour operator DO NOT book your bus tickets leaving Cusco through them as they will book you the worst seats and do a runner on you because they know when you leave (at least thats what Jenny at Mapi Trek Peru does to 8 people every day)

TIP: Lonely Planet says Aguas Calientes is expensive for food.. you can get decent meals or set menus for 10 solas?? Just avoid the sharks by the bus stop... if they offer free stuff it means they'll add it on as a 'service charge'

Good luck on your travels.

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11. Re: Cheapest way to do Machu Picchu

i just came back from machu picchu - wanted to do it as cheaply as possible as the thought of a $500 inca trek scared the hell out of my budget!

Here is how I did it:

1. machu picchu ticket bought online, 133 soles (don't forget there are 3 stages! first reserve, second pay, and then third enter reserve number to get ticket and print out- don't forget to bring ID and credit card you bought ticket with- if you bring your passport you can get a cool machu picchu stamp too)

2. return taxi to bus station to buy ticket (day before) 8 soles

3. taxi to bus station, 4 soles

4. the 7.30am bus from cusco to santa maria, 15 soles (takes around 5-6 hours) arrived 1pm

5. catch a colectivo from santa maria to hidro-electrico, 15 soles (lots of guys offering rides), 2 hours, arrived 3pm

6. walk from hidro-electrico to aguas calientes, free, 2 hours- i quite enjoyed this- saw an ant-eater, colourful birds and you walk along the river for most of it. Bring snacks to stave off hunger! arrived into aguas calientes at 5pm, plenty of time to find accommodation and a beer.

7. dinner in aguas calientes plus a cerveza, 25 soles. there is a pretty big market to wander around before dinner.

8. 1 x night accommodation, 20 soles. this was a private room in a hostel- I just asked a local shop keeper for a cheap hostel- albeit this one had quite a few spiders, but when you are getting up at 4:30am, it didn't matter too much.

9. 1 hour and a bit walk from aguas calientes to the top. the main bridge opens at 5am, so aim to get in the queue just before. From the bridge it took me 50 minutes to march up the steps without stopping- advice: don't wear too much, it gets very hot&sweaty very quickly! a head torch is pretty useful as it's dark when you start.

10. entry to the park at 6am! plus a walk to the sun gate, another 45 mins. Don't think i missed too much not walking hauyna picchu- you get great views from everywhere! the option to buy this plus machu picchu entry was sold out when i tried to buy it (about a week before).


11. walk back down - so much easier than the way up! 45 mins. after 4.5 hours I was pretty content to have seen what i wanted to see.

12. walk back to hidro-electrico along train tracks, 2 hours. arrived at 12.30pm.

13. Bus at 2.30pm aguas calientes-cusco. Managed to buy a ticket at a tourist-information centre in aguas calientes for 60 soles. not that cheap, but was worth saving the hassle of going via santa teresa and waiting for a bus from santa maria (the timetable for return buses is not great)

returned to cusco by 9:30pm, 7 hours.

280 soles = £68! plus money for snacks :)

brilliant. now i get to spend my savings on some pisco sours to celebrate!

Denver, Colorado
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12. Re: Cheapest way to do Machu Picchu


Quite the adventure, thanks for sharing.

I am curious, do you speak Spanish?

I hope you enjoyed the pisco sours!

San Francisco
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13. Re: Cheapest way to do Machu Picchu

Thanks Tori2010!

Will definitely be doing your same trip...sounds great and still cheap! I also want to know...how good is your Spanish? Was it hard to communicate?

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14. Re: Cheapest way to do Machu Picchu

"""Bus at 2.30pm aguas calientes-cusco. Managed to buy a ticket at a tourist-information centre in aguas calientes for 60 soles. not that cheap, but was worth saving the hassle of going via santa teresa and waiting for a bus from santa maria (the timetable for return buses is not great)"""

I didn't realise that buses leave AGUAS CALIENTES-CUSCO ;-0/ You mean Hydroelectrica, no??

Westerly, Rhode...
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15. Re: Cheapest way to do Machu Picchu


I am about to go to machu picchu the next month and I wanted to ask you which train did you take and which would you reccomand as being the nicest?

Cusco, Peru
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16. Re: Cheapest way to do Machu Picchu

They both have similar trains with similar options and prices (Machu Picchu train no longer running). The biggest difference is in schedules, Peru Rail offers far more departure times (mainly from Ollantaytambo), as indicated by MayFlower, most people only check Inca Rail if a time they want on Peru Rail is sold out.

Berlin, Germany
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17. Re: Cheapest way to do Machu Picchu

there is no problem with the route and you dont need to be a spanish speaker to reach it.

I had an explanation with details of how we did it for 12 dollars on march of this year. If you have any question dont hesitate on comment.

Here it goes


Hope it helps :)

18. Re: Cheapest way to do Machu Picchu

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