If the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu in Peru is your destination, you’ll have to navigate through the mountainous terrain by train or on foot. How much money and time you want to spend are the key factors affecting which route you choose to get to Machu Picchu. However, the time of year and your fitness level should also be taken into consideration.
Method 1 Method 1 of 2:Getting There by Train and Bus Download Article
Take a train to Aguas Calientes, a small, touristy town at the base of Machu Picchu.
- Catch a train in Cusco. This is a four-hour train ride. There are three train options operated by PeruRail:
- The Hiram Bingham is a luxury train with four-passenger cars that can accommodate 84 people, two dining cars, a kitchen car, and an observation car with lounge. The ticket includes brunch during the outbound ride, bus transport and entrance to Machu Picchu, a guided tour, and dinner on the return trip.
- The Vistadome is a less expensive option that offers windows in the domed roof. Passengers remain seated in leather seats but receive breakfast in the morning and tea in the afternoon.
- The Expedition is the least expensive train from Cusco. It has windows in a domed roof and cloth seats. A snack and beverage is served during the trip.
- Depart on a train from Ollantaytambo. Ollantaytambo has its own ruins to explore. From here you can reach Aguas Calientes in 3 hours or less. In addition, to the Vistadome and Expedition, you can take the more economical backpacker train from Ollantaytambo. It features cloth seats and offers refreshments for an additional fee.
- Get a seat at the river side for better views. Choose the left side of the train on the way to Aguas Calientes, and vice versa.
Take the bus from Aguas Calientes up to Machu Picchu. A 20- to 30-minute bus ride takes you the remaining 4 miles (6.4 km) up the cliffs to Machu Picchu.
Method 2 Method 2 of 2:Getting There by Foot Download Article
Head up the Inca Trail on a 4-day hike and camping experience. The 28-mile route takes you through the Sacred Valley. During the trek, you will travel through the jungle, past villages, and enjoy spectacular views from elevations of around 10,000 feet (3,048.0 m). A decent fitness level is required to endure the long ascents and 6 or more hours of hiking each day. Most tours include a guide, a cook, meals, camping gear, and porters to carry it. See the Things You’ll Need section for items to bring.
- This needs to be scheduled several months in advance, as permits are limited and sell out very quickly.
Combine a train ride with a 2-day hike on the Inca Trail. You will take a train from Cusco or Ollantaytambo to the Inca ruins at Chachabamba. The 6-hour hike includes a 4-hour ascent near Wiñay Wayna. A bus takes you to Aguas Calientes, where you stay the night in a hotel. You spend the next day exploring Machu Picchu, and then catch the Backpacker train to Cusco.
Hike up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calienties.
Consider the Salkantay Trek if you are an experienced backpacker.
- Permit regulations are more relaxed with this option.
Take a bus from Ollantaytambo to Santa Maria. Spend the night there and walk to Machu Picchu through Hydroelectrica.
- December to April is the rainy season in Peru. You should bring rain gear and suitable footwear, especially if hiking to get to Machu Picchu. Thanks! Helpful 4 Not Helpful 0
- Get acclimated to the altitude before visiting Machu Picchu, especially if you are going to do a trek. Thanks! Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
- You cannot bring food in the Machu Picchu ruins, but you can bring water, and you can store a backpack with these items outside the ruins. (The Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge has a restaurant, but it’s quite expensive.) Thanks! Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
- There are biting flies in both Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu. Wear long sleeves and pants and bring insect repellant if this is a concern for you. Thanks! Helpful 2 Not Helpful 1
Things You’ll Need
- Sleeping bag
- Insect repellent
- Sunscreen, sun hat, and sunglasses
- Warm jacket and hat
- Rain gear
- T-shirts, shorts and long pants
- Hiking boots and sneakers
- Water bottle
- Water purification tablets
- Toilet paper