How to Travel Machu Picchu on a Budget

7. December 2018

Machu Picchu is probably the main attraction of Peru and one of the absolute main attractions of Latin America. But because of its prominence it is also quite expensive to travel to. The train ticket alone from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes is about $160 return, but there are ways around it. We bargained with a travel guide who was coincidentally sitting in our taxi from the airport. And managed to get a return ticket for a minivan from our hotel to Hidroelectrica for $22. From there it is a scenic 2-3h walk along the train tracks and through the rain forest to Aguas Calientes.

This is the positive side, the negative side is that the minivan ride takes about 7 hours while the combined train and bus option only needs 3h. And these are no highway hours. During five of these seven hours we were driving on the curviest mountain road we have ever been. And instead of guard railings there were crosses at the edge of the road.

The hike through the high coastal rain forest was beautiful but the ride was so uncomfortable and scary that we decided to look for a train for our way back. And thanks to low season we were able to get a ticket to Ollantaytambo for only $44 and from there a minivan for $3.

To sum it up, the bus is a cheap but long, uncomfortable and scary option. And the train is expensive but short and comfortable. And in low season there is the third option to book the train one day ahead.

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