March 26, 2023

Seeing the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu is a dream for journey vacationers worldwide. In case you’re questioning the best way to get to Machu Picchu in Peru, you are in the precise place.

I have been lucky sufficient to journey to Machu Picchu on three events: the Salktany trek as a budget-conscious backpacker, on an all-inclusive group tour, and reserving every little thing independently.

This text focuses on the final method, the steps required to prepare a visit to Machu Picchu independently.

Dave and Kel at Machu Picchu in Peru
Dave and Kel at Machu Picchu

Planning Your Journey

As soon as you have determined to go to Machu Picchu in South America, you will want to determine what sort of expertise you need and the way a lot money and time you have obtained.

Let’s assume you are happening a one-week trip (as I did on my most up-to-date go to with Kel).

One-Week Itinerary

This is a quick overview of the logistics concerned:

  1. Guide a roundtrip flight from your private home metropolis to Lima, Peru.
  2. Make a lodge reservation for Lima.
  3. Guide a roundtrip flight from Lima to town of Cusco.
  4. Organize a non-public switch from the Cusco airport to Ollantaytambo prepare station.
  5. Purchase prepare tickets to the city of Aguas Calientes and again to Cusco.
  6. Reserve a lodge for one evening in Aguas Calientes.
  7. Purchase a Machu Picchu ticket (timed entry). Select your circuit correctly.
  8. Rent a tour information (required to enter Machu Picchu).
  9. Purchase a roundtrip shuttle bus ticket from Aguas Calientes to the principle entrance of Machu Picchu (or you’ll be able to spend one hour climbing up the mountain totally free, as I did the primary time).
  10. Organize for a non-public switch from the Cusco prepare station to your lodge.
  11. Fly from Cusco again to Lima.
  12. Depart Lima for dwelling.

That is lots to wrap your head round, and arranging it your self is time-intensive. It wasn’t till my third journey to Machu Picchu in Peru that I noticed how difficult it’s to get there.

Unbiased Journey vs. Group Tour

My first two visits have been run by tour operators, one a trek with an area company and the opposite a G Adventures tour I gained in a drawing.

As I started designing the third journey, my girlfriend noticed the work concerned. She stated she would’ve booked a gaggle tour had I not embraced the planning required.

I would like that effort to be of service to you, too. However should you get to the top and understand you’d reasonably pay for a gaggle tour to make life simpler, I would not blame you!

There is not any greatest approach to see Machu Picchu. Do what is going to work greatest for you and any journey companions.

My largest takeaway from determining the best way to get to Machu Picchu in Peru was that purchasing your entrance tickets first and constructing your journey round that day is greatest.

Inca stonework at Machu Picchu in Peru
Inca stonework

Machu Picchu Tickets

Because of the recognition of Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Website, the Peruvian authorities has been implementing new guidelines to enhance the positioning’s sustainability.

Whereas these measures can current challenges when planning, they’re supposed to guard and protect the archaeological website.

Since 2019, these laws embrace timed-entry tickets assigned to particular circuits (routes) by the Inca ruins.

Vacationers should keep on with the route assigned to the ticket they purchase, and you are not allowed to backtrack.

The tough half is that not all routes see the identical views or options. Being pressured to decide on a circuit means lacking out on some areas and vantage factors on the ruins.

I counsel having a way of the flights and trains you need to schedule however not shopping for these tickets till you have finalized your entry to Machu Picchu.

Sign for Circuit 4 at the Machu Picchu ruins
Signal for Circuit 4

Selecting a Circuit

Even for somebody who has visited Machu Picchu in Peru earlier than, it may be tough to visualise and evaluate the completely different circuits.

The official authorities web site, the place you should purchase tickets on-line, is offered in English and Spanish. There you’ll be able to see maps of all five circuits by Machu Picchu.

The instances indicated beneath are a tenet for the Machu Picchu website and don’t issue within the time wanted for facet journeys on Circuits 3, 4, and 5. You are given further time should you select these tickets.

  • Circuit 1 – Machu Picchu solely (2 hours)
  • Circuit 2 – Machu Picchu solely (3 hours)
  • Circuit 3 – Machu Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain (1.5 hours)
  • Circuit 4 – Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu (additionally spelled Waynapicchu) or Huchuy Picchu (2.5 hours)
  • Circuit 5 – Machu Picchu and Inca Bridge (1.5 hours)

The 1.5 to 2-hour hike to Inti Punku, the Solar Gate, shouldn’t be allowed right now. The one wait to see Machu Picchu from the Solar Gate is should you do the Inca Path trek, as that is the place you will enter the ruins.

Until you have examine and studied the ruins intimately, it may be arduous to know what you are lacking out on if you select one circuit over one other.

Making Your Choice

The best approach to slim your selections is to determine if you would like a circuit with a facet journey, akin to climbing the favored Huayna Picchu. Because it’s solely an choice on Circuit 4, your choice is made.

When Kel informed me she needed a birdseye view of Machu Picchu, I assumed she meant the view from atop Huayna Picchu, which I might first climbed in 2011. Subsequently, I purchased our entrance tickets for Circuit 4.

It wasn’t till we arrived on the ruins that we realized she was referring to the basic postcard picture (taken on the Guesthouse), which is barely accessible on Circuit 1 and Circuit 2.

She took the mix-up in stride and obtained an surprising mountain climb out of the expertise.

View of Huayna Picchu mountain (to the left) from Circuit 4
View of Huayna Picchu mountain (left) from Circuit 4

Shopping for Tickets On-line

Whereas you should purchase tickets by the Peruvian government website, it isn’t essentially the most user-friendly expertise.

UPDATE: As of January 21, 2023, the federal government has indefinitely closed Machu Picchu and the Inca Path to vacationers as a result of anti-government protests in Machu Picchu Pueblo (sometimes called Aguas Calientes), Cusco, and Lima.

Per NPR, “Vacationers who had already purchased tickets for Machu Picchu from January 21, 2023, till one month after at any time when the protests finish will be capable to get hold of a full refund, the Tradition Ministry stated.”

Alternatively, I like to recommend shopping for your tickets to the Machu Picchu citadel by a tour-booking website like Get Your Information or Viator. They’re higher designed and simpler to make use of.

I purchased our non-refundable Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu Entrance Ticket (Circuit 4) on Get Your Information. Each the doorway to Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu have particular instances.

We selected the 8 a.m. time slot to enter Machu Picchu. Later, I realized this alternative meant we may enter Machu Picchu as early as 7 a.m. to start Circuit 4. 7 a.m. was the time on our ticket.

That is as a result of it could take 40 minutes or extra to achieve Huayna Picchu, and our entry to Huayna Picchu was from 8 to 9 a.m. Sounds complicated, I do know.

And in case you are late and miss getting into Machu Picchu between 7 a.m. and eight a.m., they’ll refuse entry to the park.

In that occasion, you’d solely be capable to get in on the identical day should you may get hold of a brand new timed entry for later within the morning or afternoon. As you will see, that may throw off the remainder of your itinerary and journey plans.

Our Expertise

I imagine 8 a.m. (actually 7 a.m.) is one of the best time for Circuit 4 as a result of it affords a pleasant stability between sleep and having time within the park.

We nonetheless had an early morning:

  • 5:30 a.m. breakfast at our lodge
  • 6 a.m. briefing with our native information
  • 6:30 a.m. shuttle bus to Machu Picchu entrance
  • 7 a.m. enter Machu Picchu
  • 8:30 a.m. climb Huayna Picchu

The tickets have been $88 per particular person ($176 for 2 individuals). I additionally purchased our roundtrip shuttle bus tickets from Aguas Calientes to the Machu Picchu entrance for an extra $35 per particular person.

The identical non-refundable 8 a.m. Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu ticket is offered on Viator for $84 per particular person ($168 complete for 2 individuals).

As soon as you purchase the ticket, you will obtain affirmation by way of electronic mail, and at the very least with Get Your Information, a second electronic mail with the precise entry ticket from an area tour operator.

Selfie with Linder, a Machu Picchu guide, at the entrance to Huayna Picchu in Peru
Selfie with Linder, a Machu Picchu information

Hiring a Machu Picchu Information

We acquired emails for our Machu Picchu tickets from Get Your Information and the native tour firm, emphasizing that an official tour information should be employed to enter Machu Picchu. It is a park regulation.

Being a budget-conscious traveler, I researched this on-line. I discovered reader feedback on different blogs saying a information is not required, or they weren’t questioned upon getting into Machu Picchu with out a information.

Nonetheless, given our tight schedule, and it was Kel’s first journey to Machu Picchu, I did not need to danger any last-minute issues.

We employed a licensed, English-speaking personal information, Linder, for 2 hours for $78.

Getting a information was straightforward to rearrange by the tour operator that offered our Machu Picchu tickets. I may’ve additionally paid for the information after I purchased the doorway and bus tickets.

A gaggle tour would’ve been $25 per particular person, or $50 complete, by the identical operator.

Machu Picchu shuttle bus
Machu Picchu shuttle bus

Shuttle Bus Tickets

Along with your Machu Picchu ticket and guided tour, I like to recommend shopping for a roundtrip ticket for the shuttle bus from Aguas Calientes to the doorway of Machu Picchu.

The roundtrip price is about $30 per particular person for overseas guests, give or take a couple of {dollars}. Just like the entry prices, it is considerably much less for Peruvian nationals, college students, and youngsters.

This can be a comparatively low-cost approach to save your self the time and vitality of climbing up the mountain for an hour (whereas watching others within the buses whiz by you). I communicate from expertise.

I used to be so excited on my first go to to Machu Picchu that I awoke round 5 a.m. and climbed up the mountain by way of the trail crossing by the numerous switchbacks utilized by the buses.

In case you’re in good bodily form however are susceptible to movement illness or need the added problem, by all means, go for it!

The views aren’t that nice as a result of foliage, and it will nonetheless be darkish should you go away early within the morning.

Kel in Aguas Calientes. If you want to get to Machu Picchu in Peru, you'll visit here too.

Resorts in Aguas Calientes

Now we’re making some progress. Whereas you may get to Machu Picchu in Peru as a day journey from Cusco, it might be an extended, tiring day that I would not suggest.

I’ve spent the evening earlier than my visits to Machu Picchu in a lodge in Aguas Calientes on all three journeys.

It is a small city, straightforward to get round on foot, and affords alternatives to help this distant group (by shopping for meals at eating places, lodge stays, purchasing, and so forth.).

Count on fundamental however comfy lodging; this is not the place for luxurious motels. All of the supplies and sources on the town should be introduced in by way of the prepare tracks or on foot.

I booked one evening at Tierra Viva Machu Picchu by way of for $118. There are cheaper selections, however I preferred that this one is adjoining to the river operating by city.

Test all of the lodge costs in Aguas Calientes. It solely takes about ten minutes to stroll from one facet of city to the opposite, so location does not matter an excessive amount of.

Professional Tip: Regardless of the city being named after scorching springs, they don’t seem to be a lot to have a look at, not to mention get into. It’s kind of of a stroll to achieve them, and I wasn’t impressed.

Peru Rail train at Ollantaytambo station
Peru Rail prepare at Ollantaytambo station

Practice Tickets to/from Aguas Calientes

Except for trekking, the one approach to attain Aguas Calientes, and subsequently Machu Picchu, is by prepare.

There are two prepare corporations to select from: Peru Rail and Inca Rail. Each supply a wide range of service ranges and departure instances. The one luxurious prepare is Peru Rail’s Belmond Hiram Bingham.

The prepare schedules can be found on every firm’s web site. We used Peru Rail, and I purchased the tickets by their web site.

The 1:27 p.m. Vistadome prepare with panoramic home windows departing from the city of Ollantaytambo for Aguas Calientes was $95 per particular person and took 90 minutes.

Cusco to Aguas Calientes

In case you’re staying in Cusco for at the very least one evening earlier than going to Aguas Calientes, you’ll be able to catch an early-morning prepare from town’s prepare station (a few 30-minute taxi journey from the historic heart).

This is not a nasty concept, as Cusco’s elevation is larger than Machu Picchu, so the time spent acclimatizing may help you keep away from altitude illness if that is a priority.

Lima to Aguas Calientes

If you wish to journey from Lima to Aguas Calientes in a single day, like we did, then you definately’ll want a morning flight from Lima to Cusco and a non-public switch from the Cusco airport to the Ollantaytambo prepare station.

Our Expedition prepare from Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes) to Cusco departed at 3:20 p.m. It was $72 per particular person and took 4 hours and 25 minutes.

I do not know whether or not it was the prepare or the tracks, nevertheless it was a bumpy prepare journey.

Upon arrival on the Cusco prepare station within the night, there weren’t many taxis round, however we nonetheless managed to get one.

It took one other 20 to half-hour to achieve our lodge close to the Plaza de Armas within the historic heart.

Switch from Cusco Airport to Ollantaytambo Practice Station

If you have to get from the Cusco airport to the Ollantaytambo prepare station, you’ll be able to both present up and negotiate with a taxi driver on the airport or ebook a switch forward of time.

I selected the latter and once more used the corporate that had despatched us our Machu Picchu tickets. The two-hour personal switch was $25 per particular person.

This can be a comparable quantity to what I discovered when researching the price of a taxi journey if you present up on the Cusco airport.

On Get Your Information, a non-public switch was going for about $55 per particular person, so it pays to buy round.

A SKY Airline plane at the Cusco airport in Southern Peru
A SKY Airline aircraft on the Cusco airport

Flying to/from Cusco

The Alejandro Velasco Astete Worldwide Airport is Cusco’s major airport. There are direct flights from Lima by a number of carriers all through the day.

SKY Airline and Viva Air Peru are low-cost carriers with each day flights between Lima and Cusco. The bigger and pricier LATAM Airlines additionally covers this route.

It is about an 80-minute flight, with slightly multiple hour up within the air.

We used SKY Airline for our roundtrip flights between Lima and Cusco, and the expertise was effective.

If I have been to ebook Sky Airline flights a couple of months from the day I am writing this text, the bottom fare can be $14 every approach and $50 complete. Count on to pay further for seat choice and checked baggage.

Professional Tip: Costs can enhance fairly a bit throughout peak season (dry season) as demand soars. The best choice for a visit in the course of the excessive season (assume U.S. summers from June to August) is to ebook months prematurely to get the instances and says you favor. The wet season is in January, and greatest averted.

Flying to/from Lima

And at last, we arrive on the flights to/from Lima or wherever you determine to enter and exit Peru.

I like to start with Kayak or Skyscanner to get an outline of carriers and prices.

We ended up flying from Austin to Lima by way of Miami with American Airways. I used 49,029 Chase journey factors price $735 to cowl the price of my roundtrip flight.

Try my story on journey hacking to be taught extra about how one can earn free flights.


In case you’re nonetheless with me, I respect your time and hope this info helped reply any questions on the best way to get to Machu Picchu in Peru.

The extra time you’ll be able to afford to spend on this journey, the extra relaxed it will likely be. Nonetheless, I can now attest to doing it in 7 days and 6 nights if time is brief.

One final tip. There’s way more to Peru than Machu Picchu. From the desert shoreline, as soon as dwelling to historical civilizations like Chan Chan, to the snow-capped mountains round Huaraz and the Amazon rainforest of Tambopata, Peru is unimaginable.

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