Aguas Caliente / Machu Picchu
Unquestionably the number one reason for most of our visits to Peru is of course to visit the ancient Incan ruins of Machu Picchu or Machupicchu Pueblo. Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu is a location in Peru situated in the Cusco Region, Urubamba Province. It is the seat of the Machupicchu District.
How to get to Machu Picchu
There is only one way to travel to Machu Picchu and that is by rail (Inca / Peru Rail), both of which can be booked online. We took the 4.30pm Inca Rail train to Aguas Caliente arriving at 8.30pm. Both offer a range of seating from superior, mid and standard class. Tickets are not cheap, so ensure that you budget for this essential travel.
We chose this method so we can have a rest in Aguas Caliente, but you can get directly to Aguas Calientes from Cusco or Ollantaytambo and get a connecting bus up to the gates of Machu Picchu
Follow the links below for booking:
Where to stay in Aguas Caliente
Accommodation is plentiful from high end hotels to hostels, but all is in walking distance from the train station and bus station.
There are no cars in Aguas Caliente so be prepared to haul your luggage through the street bazaar and out on to the main road.
We stayed at the Macchu Picchu packer – located near to the station and a short walk to the bus stop. Ideally located and in close proximity to the town and surroundings.
Unless you plan to set off on a steep climb at 4am to get to the ages of Machu Picchu we suggest you get a Shuttle ticket secured
Tickets for shuttle busses to Machu Picchu can be purchased from Consettur office in Cusco or in Aguas Calientes. Tickets cannot be purchased as you get on the bus.
Be sure to have secured your Machu Picchu tickets before you travel to avoid disappointment.Go to the official Peruvian website: http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe
You can see the availability of tickets in real time.
You can get your ticket far in advance, especially if you intend to go to Wayna Picchu (or Huayna Picchu) since only 400 people per day are allowed to go up there (2 groups of 200). This website only accepts VISA credit cards that participate in the Verified by Visa security system.
Here is our day to Machu Picchu
We took the 6.00am bus to Machu Picchu arriving at 6.30am. We then joined a tour group costing 15 sols each. This was a two hour walking tour, informative and interesting. There is no need to pre-book a tour for Machu Picchu, numerous tour guides eagerly wait at the entrance, get ready to haggle!
There are plenty of places to take pictures of Machu Picchu but in order to get that iconic shot looking down on to the ruins you’ll need to exit Machu Picchu and re-enter which your ticket (which allows you 2 entries). This time instead of heading down, head up the steps, it’s a bit of a slog to get up there but once you are there you’ll know why you did it. The view down on the Inca site is everything you imagined it to be.
We walked up to the view point, where we stopped for lunch (sandwiches in our backpacks). We then hiked up to the sun gate. It’s an hour’s hike in each direction, uphill on the way there and downhill back, it’s tough! But with great views.
We made it back just before the rain and made our way back down, catching the bus back to Aguas Caliente at 12.30pm. Fortunately we’d booked accommodation for 2 nights despite not staying the second night and this was the best thing we could’ve done as we were exhausted!!!
We took the 4.30pm train back to Cusco (3 hours 40 minutes) where we stayed at Mr Inca’s by the airport ready to catch our early morning flight to Bolivia.