How to get to Machu Picchu for 3 USD
Posted on Dec 11, 2014 by Inga
Ever since the first glimpse of idea to travel to South America appeared in the heads of Bambina and Bimbino, the dream to visit Machu Picchu sorely stuck in their heads. They started looking up the information about this legendary Inca ruins including the ways to get there. They found out that the entrance to the ruins is quite expensive, but the way to Machu-Picchu itself was even more overpriced.
The town of Aguas Calientes (also known as Machupicchu Pueblo), the starting point of ascending to Machu Picchu, is not reachable by car. The only road connecting Cusco directly to Aguas Calientes is a railway. The cheapest one-way train ticket costs 70 USD in a low season. It takes around 3,5 hours for 110 km. If you add the return train ticket
(140 USD) to the price of the entrance ticket
(62 USD) to Machu Picchu, the trip becomes unaffordable for the most backpackers. But, every backpackers has to know the other way.
Bambina found a good article in Russian language in a blog of Alexandr Cheban
. That information is still up-to-date with some exceptions. But the Monkeys were introduced to an even cheaper option.
There is a rumour around Cusco that it is possible to get to Aguas Calientes for 10 Soles. Numerous tour agencies are trying to conceal this fact, or at least tell that such mission is close to impossible, that is why it stays only a rumour. Bimbino and Bambina were lucky to come across a magic book full of different advice for travellers, and they found a vague description of the "10 Soles way". They had to ask around to get some more details, and finally they had a map drawn on a piece of paper (below is the better version of this map made later with help of modern technology). The last thing to do was finding a right bus stop...
Finding a right bus station is not easy. There are quite a few of bus station of different transportation companies operating busses on different routes. Location of a station can be often changed, as economical situation in Cusco is very unstable: companies going bankrupt, etc. You will have to ask around for a bus going to Urubamba via Pisac. It takes around two hours: one hour to Pisac, and another hour to Urubamba. If you ask around, you should expect some strange things and be aware:
- If a person doesn't know, he will tell you your option does not exist, and will try to convince you to go on a bus via Chinchero (it is a shorter direct way to Urubamba shown on the map with a line left of the mountains), which is also possible!, but will cost a couple of Soles more.
- You should ask a few people to get the right information. Even if people don't know, they will not tell that they don't know, they will tell just anything, even if it is totally wrong.
It is possible that the right bus stop is located here (Google map will open)
. The monkeys were pretty sure departing from a different location, but, as they don't remember properly, they prefer to trust Google on that. Ask around! and you will find the way. Please, if you have found the right location, or if you confirmed that Google is right, send a word to us.
The first part of the trip from Cusco to Urubamba costed the Monkeys 4 Soles.
The bus would arrive to a bus station in Urubamba. The station had two sides, one for the busses going direction Pisac, or Cusco, another for smaller busses going direction Ollantaytambo. You need to catch a bus to Ollantaytambo. They are small, and are departing quite often as soon as they get full. For this trip the Monkeys paid 1,5 Soles. The trip took around half an hour for 20 km.
Ollantaytambo doesn't have a bus station, just a street where all the busses park and queue for their turn to drive. Just at the place of arrival you will find the small busses going to "82 km" train station. Those busses are not getting full that quickly, so you might have to wait half an hour. This part of the trip costed the Monkeys 3 Soles. The trip took around half an hour for 15 km along a very bad unpaved road. Interesting trend: the shorter the distance, the more expensive the bus ride.
To get to "82 km" train station costed Bimbino and Bambina all in 8,5 Soles.
Then they only had to follow the rails. 28 km is not a short way to hike, especially along the railroad. The spaces between the ties are changing, so you have to concentrate on not breaking your legs. You can go beside the rails, but it is mostly covered with pebbles, therefore, not much more comfortable to walk. You should count at least 9 hours in, if you want to make brakes on the way. If you expect to be walking in the darkness, don't forget to take a flashlight.
Let's go through the whole adventure once more:
- Cusco-Pisac-Urubamba - 70 km - 4 Soles;
alternative would be Cusco-Chinchero-Urubamba - 48,5 km - 5 Soles (not sure about the price);
- Urubamba-Ollantaytambo - 20 km - 1,5 Soles;
- Ollantaytambo-[82 km] - 15 km - 3 Soles;
- [82 km]-[110 km] - 9 hours by foot.