First off, this site is truly incredible! It will absolutely leave you awe inspired. I am going to briefly describe how I made the trip to Machu Picchu and then I will offer some tips for those of you who in the future would also like to pay the site a visit.
Getting to Cuzco
- Most travelers will stop in Cuzco before making the trek to Aguas Calientes because there is a lot to do here and many travel agencies help arrange trips to Machu Picchu.
- This may seem like a no brainer, but I flew Star Peru. They were reliable and didn’t charge a “gringo tax.”
- You can buy tickets at the Ministry of Culture in Cuzco, but bear in mind that they have a certain amount available and may run out. If this happens, you can buy from the Ministry of Culture in Aguas Calientes. My friend and I tried buying our tickets in Cuzco, but they were already out by the time we got there. We went by on a Thursday and were wanting entrance tickets for Saturday. Also, bring your International Student ID Card as there is a discount in price.
My Trek to Machu Picchu
- Hydroelectric Station
- Because my friend and I are poor graduate students, we wanted to travel in the most cost effective way possible. There were travel agencies in Cuzco that offered buses to the Hydroelectric Station. We bought roundtrip tickets for 70 soles and were told to meet at the agency at 7am the next morning.
- This part might have been the sketchiest part of the trip because when we got to the agency in the morning, only one other passenger was standing outside and the agency was closed. We waited until about 7:30am when this young woman came and called out our names and told us to follow her.
- We were then led to a place where all the combis were located and we were instructed to get inside and so began the 8hour ride to the hydroelectric station.
- Aguas Calientes
- To get to Aguas Calientes from the Hydroelectric Station you must walk about 10km. Most of it is on level ground and if you don’t carry a lot, you can make it to the town in about 2 hours. It isn’t hard per se, but it is tedious. Also, bring bug spray as my ankle got bit and now it’s the size of a softball.
- Once you are in the town, there is a lot of hostels and restaurants so I don’t think you necessarily need to book early. I would also suggest bringing some of your own food as the prices in the town are fairly steep compared to the rest of Peru.
- Machu Picchu
- So on Saturday we woke up at 4am to walk down to where those who wish to hike up to Machu Picchu meet. We were let in the gate at roughly 5am and I had no idea the kind of nightmare that was about to take place.
- The trail is roughly 8km, which might not seem like a lot but the trail is made up of a series of stairs that are incredibly steep. There is no reprieve from this as the entire trail is uphill and you must keep going. It was very dark when we first set out, which might have been for the best since I was sweating so much, but we ended up in the light. We made it to the top around 6:15am, so it took us about an hour and a half.
- We spent about four hours at the site, but had to leave since we had to catch our return combi and we wanted to have lunch in Aguas Calientes. At the point, we were pretty wrecked from walking and wanted to save time, so we bought a bus ticket for the return for 38 soles. Worth it.
- Return to Cuzco
- We had to walk back the trek from Aguas Calientes to the Hydroelectic Station which was a little better since I think it was slightly downhill.
- Once we got the Hydroelectic Station, we had to figure out how to find our combi because there are so many and it is overwhelming. We eventually found our driver and we left around 2:30pm and got back into Cuzco at 10:00pm.
- If you can, get your entrance ticket from Cuzco early, you’ll save on the stress.
- If you have extra money to spend, look into taking Peru Rail or Inka Rail as they will get you to Aguas Calientes much faster, albeit for a heftier price.
- Again, if you have extra money to spend I recommend taking the bus up to the site. The trail is honestly incredibly difficult and full of sadness. If you don’t want to spend money on a bus ticket to and from the site, then I recommend just taking the trail back to Aguas Calientes as the walk down won’t be so bad.
- Definitely bring lots of water, stay hydrated! Take lots of pictures and ENJOY!!!