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Cheapest way to do Machu Picchu

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.

Lima, Peru
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1. Re: Cheapest way to do Machu Picchu

The Santa Teresa back road is a really bad idea, believe me

Specially now that the road has been washed out, like it happens every year.

Michigan
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2. Re: Cheapest way to do Machu Picchu

I recall a thread with a similar title, and recommending a certain agency near Jack's Cafe. Was it you?

You should write a complaint and send it to iperu@promperu.gob.pe so they can advise others not to use that agency. People can also ask questions regarding authorized agencies to that email. The official website www.machupicchu.gob.pe also has a list of authorized agencies.

Too sad you had to go through such bad experience. It is definitely cheaper when DIY (even through the regular route).

Edited: 6:28 pm, March 01, 2012
3. Re: Cheapest way to do Machu Picchu

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Los Angeles...
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4. Re: Cheapest way to do Machu Picchu

I will be in Machu Piccu in the next 2 weeks. I understand the road and the train and not running due to mudslides and rain. Do you know if this is true? If so, how do I get to Machu Piccu, regardless of the cost?

Michigan
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5. Re: Cheapest way to do Machu Picchu

Just hurry up and book your train tickets (PeruRail, Inca Rail or MachuPicchu Train) and with some luck, your MP tickets (www.machupicchu.gob.pe); trains are running, please notice the date of the first post.

There are lots of posts with answers about common issues when booking trains or MP tickets; check the most recent pages of the general Peru forum.

It's cheaper to book everything on your own, but don't wait last minute as #3 says because it's not so low season now (and he shouldn't advertise his agency).

Valley of Heart's...
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6. Re: Cheapest way to do Machu Picchu

Hi Mayflower, WOW! I didn't even know that there's more 1 train going from Ollan to MP. I am about to book with PeruRail next week until I happened to see this forum today and your advice. Do you prefer PeruRail, Inca Rail or MachuPicchu Train? Which one is the best in your opinion? And the reasons for your preference?

Thanks Mayflower.

Michigan
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7. Re: Cheapest way to do Machu Picchu

WanderlustNikki, I have only used PeruRail. MachuPicchu Train's website just recently began accepting Paypal as a form of payment; before that, I think that people mostly used it when they arrived at Cusco with no reservations, so they didn't have much choice. About Inca Rail, it seems that people use it when they find that the PeruRail train they wanted shows no availability, according to what I've read in the forum.

I think you should check the TA pages of both PeruRail and Inca Rail; people seem to have strong opinions in favor and against them:

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g294314-d3…

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g294314-d2…

Edited: 1:57 pm, May 08, 2012
Minneapolis...
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8. Re: Cheapest way to do Machu Picchu

Great info. Thank you!

Where do I catch bus in Cuzco to ollantaytamo and can I get bus ticket same day?

Lima, Peru
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9. Re: Cheapest way to do Machu Picchu

Take a taxi to the bus station, its cheap.

I recommend you get your tickets in advance on the internet to avoid nasty surprises.

Valley of Heart's...
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10. Re: Cheapest way to do Machu Picchu

Thanks Mayflower for your links to reviews of both Inca Rail and Peru Rail. Ume, I will send you the links of where to catch the combi/minivan from Cusco to Ollantaytambo later. These are links that ZSnyde, another tripadivsor member, sent me before.