Macchu Picchu. The lost city of the Incas. Nearly every traveller has got this “world wonder” on his bucket list. But there are many ways to get there. Basically, all routes start from Cusco. It is easy to reach from everywhere in Peru by plane, car or bus.
A train goes directly to Agua Calientes, a small village next to the ruins, via Ollantaytambo. A return ticket costs about $110-200 per person. If you´re super lazy and want to support the mass tourism, you can book your ticket here.
Another option is the famous Inca Trail, which has to be booked a few months in advance. In general, this trail can only be done by booking the tour, but there are other options, listed below that can be done without taking a tour. It is usually four days and three nights, with the trek being 44km long. The highest part of the trekking is 4,200m above sea level. In general, what I have heard so far, is that, it is a wonderful hike, but, you have to be really careful when choosing your tour providers.Depending on the season and company, it costs around $350 and $700. This includes the travel by bus and train , the entrance fees for the Inca Trail and Macchu Picchu, camping gear and Porters (who carry the food, tents and camping equipment).
You can also hike unofficial Inca-Trails. This is very different without knowledge and may take between one to thirteen days. The most famous ones you find here. Some of these hikes can also be booked as a tour, but generally, you are allowed to go there by yourself.The down-side to doing it this way, is all the equipment you will need to carry for yourself, by yourself. You will need a very good sleeping bag, sleeping pad, warm clothes, food for the whole trip, cooking gear, good trekking shoes etc. Furthermore, you should be trained and experienced in trekking and mountaineering, for your own safety.
If you neither have the time, nor the money for all of those avenues, there is one last option. A local from Peru, called Camilo, who offered me a place to sleep in Cusco, via couchsurfing, wrote it down for me whilst I was there. Now it´s my time to write it down for you:
Your trip starts in Cusco, early in the morning around 5.30am. From there, you have to take a collectivo (Collectives in Southamerica are small buses built out of smaller vehicle chassis) in the Av Pavitos. It costs 10 Soles (check the peruvian currency below) and the bus departs as soon as it´s full. That bus will take you to Ollantaytambo.
There you can go to the market to have some breakfast and buy some food and beverage for the walk.You must catch another bus, which departs in front of the market. This one costs 3.50 Soles and will take you to Piscacucho in about 30 minutes (People also call it km83.)
As soon as you arrive there, you will see the Inca-Trail Sign and the train-way. So, don’t go that way!
Look around and find out where all the tours are going. You should go in the same direction, but on the opposite side of the train-way. You can’t walk straight on the train-way at the beginning. You have to travel in a big half circle, so that they don´t see you.
As soon as you made it safe to the train-way, you can follow the trek, which always goes along. You will pass beautiful old Inca villages and local farmers, who still do their field-work like they did 100 years ago. Only be careful of the dogs, who sometimes get a little bit angry.
You will pass some tunnels. Just be careful, when walking through these and check to make sure whether or not a train will be coming or not! You should be able to hear it coming, long before it arrived or travelled through the tunnel.
When I travelled along here, I only met one other tourist. The trek itself is totally worth it! You finish after 27km or 110km in Agua Calientes. The trek is easy, nearly straight all the time and really beautiful.
When you arrive in Agua Calientes, it´s probably already dark and you should be able to find a cheap hostel. After searching for a while, I found a cheap one for 15 Soles.Now you should have lunch and drink of Coca Tea.Beforehand, you should have already purchased your ticket to enter Macchu Picchu the next day, if you haven´t done it already online. Waiting till you arrive in Agua Caliente to purchase your ticket directly, works out cheaper, as I found out. It is also recommended that you bring your Student ID to get a big discount.Don´t go to bed too late, the next day will be a tough day!
The best time to enter the way up to Macchu Picchu is early in the morning, before sunrise. If you don’t go early in the morning, you will miss the sunrise and won´t experience this most amazing feeling on the top! If you are already knocked out from the previous day, you can also take the bus for 10$ at a later time.The height to climb from Agua Calientes up to Macchu Picchu is 390m (1280 feet) and it can take from 40 minutes to 1.5 hours.Don´t forget a bottle of water and snacks for the top.
Before entering Macchu Picchu there´s a stemp in the left corner where you can stemp your password if you like.After enjoying Macchu Picchu and walking down to Agua Calientes, there are three options, with total costs for both ways, which includes accommodation and transport;
1. The economical and sporty Mountaineer (Total Cost: 57 Soles)
You stay another night in Agua Calientes and go back the same way you came (13.50 Soles+ Hostel)
2. The short-time Visitor (Total Cost: 63,50 Soles)
You follow the train-way, the opposite way to Hydroelectrica (13km to km124). From here, you find many collectivos going to Santa Theresa (5 Soles). From there, you take a bus to Santa Maria (10 soles) and then a bus back to Cusco (20 Soles). This way is well known and you´ll meet many other backpacker travellers. This way is not really that scenic though.
3. The relaxed and chilled Traveller (Total Cost: 83.50/86.50 Soles):
You stay another night in Agua Calientes. Then, you follow, as explained in 2. to St. Theresa. Here you ask for the way to Cocalmayo. There are hot springs, a 30 minute walk or 5 minutes by taxi (3 soles) from St. Theresa. Here you can relax for two to three hours in the hotsprings, whilst enjoying the stunning view over the mountains (5 Soles entrance) . After that just follow the description as given in 2.
Anyway, each of this trips will cost you between €15 and €23 ( you can look up the latest exchange rate here) and they are totally worth it.
Now, it´s up to you, which way you choose!