There are three ways to get to Machu Picchu: with the classic train trip, with the famous 4-day Inca Trail and with the alternative route by Hidroeléctrica. The latter is the cheapest way. It costs only about $ 20 to get to the Inca city with this route. It takes between 8 or 9 hours so it is necessary to spend a night in a tourist accommodation before visiting Machupicchu.
- The cheapest route to Machu Picchu
- The section from Cusco to Santa María
- The section from Santa María to Santa Teresa
- The section from Santa Teresa to Hidroeléctrica
- The section from Hidroeléctrica to Aguas Calientes
- The stretch from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu
- The budget for the trip to Machu Picchu by Hidroeléctrica
- More information about this route
The cheapest route to Machu Picchu
The route to Machu Picchu by Hydroelectric is the cheapest way to get there. The reason? It takes a long (approximately 6 hours) but cheap trip by public transport to a nearby hydroelectric station in Machu Picchu. From there you only have to walk to get to the town of Aguas Calientes, located at the foot of the wonder of the world.
If you travel with one of the tourist transports that are requested in the center of Cusco, the bus will transfer you directly from Cusco to Hidroeléctrica. On the other hand, if you take public transport you must follow the route: Cusco – Santa María – Santa Teresa – Hidroeléctrica. In any case, the last 10-kilometer stretch from Hidroeléctrica to Aguas Calientes must be done on foot (it takes approximately 2 hours).
This route can cost as little as $ 20. However, since it takes 8 hours to get to Aguas Calientes, it will be necessary to spend the night in a tourist hotel before visiting Machu Picchu the next day. That is why this route is 2 days and 1 night. The majority of visitors who make this route are young ‘backpackers’.
The section from Cusco to Santa María
The town of Santa María is 180 kilometers from the city of Cusco. This first section is done by public transport. On Antonio Lorena avenue there are author and buses (from the Ampay company) that take people to the city of Quillabamba. Tourists must board these buses and get off in the town of Santa María, after almost 5 hours of travel. The cost of the trip by public transport is 15 Peruvian soles.
The section from Santa María to Santa Teresa
The town of Santa Teresa is 23 kilometers from Santa María. This second section is also done by public transport. In this case in a ‘jeepney’. In the main square of Santa María you can board taxis. The trip takes only 1 hour. The cost of the journey is 10 Peruvian soles.
The section from Santa Teresa to Hidroeléctrica
The town of Santa Teresa is famous for its tropical climate. There you can enjoy delicious fruits like pineapple, banana, mango and more. Quality coffee and cocoa are also produced. However, its main attraction is its thermal baths. These are called ‘Cocalmayo’ and are considered the best in all of Cusco. Because of this, some visitors prefer to stop there to relax in the warm waters of the town. So the next day they can continue with the route and visit Machu Picchu.
Santa Teresa is only 11 kilometers from the Hidroeléctrica plant. This route can be done on foot but most people prefer to take a ‘jeepney’. These taxis can be taken around its main square. The trip takes approximately 30 minutes. The cost is 5 Peruvian soles.
The section from Hidroeléctrica to Aguas Calientes
The hydroelectric power station of Machu Picchu works as a source of electrical energy as well as a train station heading to the town of Aguas Calientes. Trains depart only three times a day: at 2.17 pm, at 2.50 pm and at 5.10 pm. Because they are only 10 kilometers apart, the train ride takes only 30 minutes. Trains for foreigners cost approximately $ 10. That is why the vast majority of tourists prefer to walk.
The route on foot from Hidroeléctrica to Aguas Calientes is an adventure full of beautiful landscapes. The walk is easy as it always goes on flat terrain. Follow the train rails and the Vilcanota River. With luck you can see various species of birds and animals. At the top there are immense green mountains that hide Machu Picchu. After approximately 2 hours of walking, you will arrive at the town of Aguas Calientes. The walk is totally free.
The stretch from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu
Most tourists who make the route through Hidroeléctrica stop in Aguas Calientes to spend the night. Thus, the next day they have the whole day to visit Machu Picchu. In this town there are dozens of hotels of different qualities. There are also some thermal baths that have given the town fame and name. The whole place is full of tourism. There are restaurants, cafes, craft stores, and more. Also there you can buy entrance tickets to Machupicchu.
Most tourists make the stretch from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu in tourist bus service. As this route is only 10 kilometers uphill, the trip takes approximately 30 minutes. The cost for adult foreign tourists is 12 dollars (24 dollars one way and return). In the same town of Aguas Calientes you can buy bus tickets without problems.
A few tourists decide to walk this last stretch to Machu Picchu. The hike is challenging since it is uphill. It takes between 2 hours or more to arrive. The good thing is that walking is totally free. The bad thing is that visitors will arrive exhausted to Machu Picchu where they will have to continue walking to visit the archaeological site. That is why many tourists prefer to get on the bus and descend on foot. The return route to Aguas Calientes is easier since it is downhill. It takes 1 hour 30 minutes on average.
The budget for the trip to Machu Picchu by Hidroeléctrica
The average cost of the trip to Machu Picchu by Hidroeléctrica for a foreign tourist is 22 US dollars. To this route, it is necessary to add a night of lodging in Aguas Calientes as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner on the route. The route takes 9 hours and must be done in 2 days and 1 night. This is the average budget for the trip:
Trip to Machu Picchu by Hidroeléctrica*
|From Cusco to Santa María||5 USD||5 hours|
|From Santa María to Santa Teresa||3 USD||1 hour|
|From Santa Teresa to Hidroeléctrica||2 USD||30 minutes|
|From Hidroeléctrica to Aguas Calientes||0 USD (a pie)||2 hours|
|From Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu||12 USD (by bus)||30 minutes|
|Summary||22 USD||9 hours|
*Approximate prices for foreign tourists.
More information about this route
The route to Machu Picchu by Hidroeléctrica can be done all year round except for the rainy months: January, February and March. The rains can cause accidents on the route, so it is not advisable to do this route in those months.
In the historic center of Cusco there are dozens of tourism agencies that offer the trip by tourist transport (minivan) to the Hidroeléctrica station. This route is direct and intended for tourists. The cost of the trip is $ 15 per person on average.
The classic train route to Machu Picchu has a cost of only 12 soles for Peruvians. That is why the classic route is also an economical option for tourists to Peru. Foreign tourists must pay for tourist trains costing approximately $ 50.