When I told people I was going to Machu Picchu most of them asked if I was trekking there. When I said “no” I got a lot of scoffs – mind you they weren’t trekking. There are 2 ways to get to Machu Picchu. You can take a four day trek, or a 2 hour train. I did look into trekking there, but the more I read about it the less I felt like it was the right choice for this trip. With only a week to spend on holiday, I wasn’t planning on spending the entire trip focused on Machu Picchu. If we did the trek it would leave basically no time to do anything else in Peru. The other big reason I was hesitant was that my trip was nearing the start if Peru’s rainy season. I imagined myself sleeping on the forest floor on a damp mat as rain trickled down on me, and I wasn’t on board.
If you want to travel to Machu Picchu but aren’t interested in trekking the train is a perfect choice.
We stayed in Ollantaytambo in the days leading up to our day trip to Machu Picchu. The town there is great, and definitely worth a stop. From Ollantaytambo you can take the train to Macchu Picchu for around $60 via Perurail. We took the first train of the day, which left at 5:30 am. On board they serve hot drinks and snacks, which helped to ease the early morning struggles.
The train ride went by quickly as the train winds through mountains and rivers. Arriving in the Machu Picchu town isn’t the end of the journey – from there it’s a bus ride to the entrance. Before boarding the bus you have to show you already have Machu Picchu tickets purchased. You can buy your tickets through the antiquated government website, you’ll need your tickets in advance as only 2,500 tourists are allowed each day. You can buy the bus tickets in the town, and they cost around $20 round trip.
The bus ride is truly terrifying as the drivers whip around the hairpin turns at speed, and the dirt pathways cause the bus to sway in its tracks. I usually get motion sickness but pure fear kept it at bay during the 30 minute journey.
The lines in the photo below show the path the buses take.
Arriving at Machu Picchu we showed our passports and tickets and headed in. The views are amazing from every angle. No picture can capture how amazing it is to be surrounded by the mammoth mountains. There are no food stands or bathrooms, all you can see are ruins and mountains, which is rare and awesome.
We decided to walk to the sun gate, which is where you can get all of the stereotypical Machu Picchu pictures. But to be honest ever where you look the view is amazing, so there’s really no wrong way to do this. The trail to the sun gate is fairly easy and it you stop to take pictures along the way it take about an hour. I think this is a great spot, and recommend it!
After about 6 hours at the site we boarded the terror buses back to the town of Machu Picchu (also called Aguas Calientes). A lot of places recommend
staying in this town, but personally I’d recommend Ollantaytambo instead. The town at Machu Picchu doesn’t have any real points of interest, and it doesn’t feel as safe as Ollantaytambo.
Our train ride back was even better as we were upgraded to first class. To accompany our snacks we also got a show, which involved the terrifying and hilarious creature
pictured dancing around. It was a lot of fun, and I think it’s totally worth the extra $10.
Helpful Tips Recap:
- The bathroom costs 1 Sole – and you have to exit Machu Picchu to use it
- You can exit Machu Picchu and re-enter twice in one day using your ticket
- Sunscreen & bug spray are a must. so. many. bugs.
- Water! Definitely bring some. The only food and beverages are outside of Machu Picchu
- You’ll need to show your passport to enter
- Don’t bring a selfie stick to this or any other day of your life. People will take your picture if you ask, and if you do you’ll look like a huge wanker.