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Machu Picchu Best Tours
[kkstarratings] This is Dan from Vagabond Buddha. I just completed my second visit to Machu Picchu. I was last in Machu Picchu 9 years ago.
Are you thinking of going to Machu Picchu? You might be surprised by all of the choices you have to make when you decide to go to Machu Picchu.
Hiking: Do you want to hike to Machu Picchu?
Extended Hikes: You can hike part or all of the way to Machu Picchu. You can hike the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. This was the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. There are hiking trips to Machu Picchu that vary in distance and time from 1 day to 7 days. Make sure to consider not only the distance but also the elevation. If you decide to hike the 26 mile trail over 4 or 5 days, consider not only the total distance, but the ranges in elevation from about 1800 meters (5905 feet) to 4215 meters (13,828 feet). Consider also that the trail goes up and down in elevation many times during the hike.
There are also abbreviated hikes and extended hikes. There are hikes that include other important ruins along the way.
Train: Maybe hiking is not your thing. Would you prefer to take the train?
Limited Hiking 1: You can take a roundtrip train on Peru Rail from Cusco to Agua Caliente for about $95 USD. Once in Agua Caliente (2040 meters) you can hike about 70 minutes up a 400 meter vertical climb to Machu Picchu (2430 meters). It is mostly stairs. You can also hike back down to Agua Caliente.
Limited Hiking 2: Once the train drops you in Agua Caliente, you don’t have to hike up to Machu Picchu or walk back down. You can take a bus in either direction for about $12 USD. Or, you can take the bus round trip without hiking for $25 USD. If you get the bus round trip, then it is only around the Machu Picchu grounds that will require hiking.
Minivan: This is the cheapest way to see to Machu Picchu.
- Take a minivan round trip from Cusco to Hidroelectrica.
- From Hidroelectrica, walk 2 hours along the train tracks from Hidroelectrica to Agua Caliente, you spent one night in Agua Caliente and then visit Machu Picchu the next morning.
- The next morning, hike from Agua Caliente up to Machu Picchu and back down. You can also catch the bus from Agua Caliente to Machu Picchu. The bus is $12 each direction, so you can hike or bus to Machu Picchu, either or both directions.
- After seeing Machu Picchu, walk back to Hidroelectrica and catch the minivan back to Cusco.
Machu Picchu Tickets:
You have to buy tickets to enter Machu Picchu. The tickets cost about $50 USD. If you book a tour, your tour operator will purchase the tickets for you. You can visit Machu Picchu on the morning or the afternoon session. The morning session is 6 AM to noon and the afternoon session noon to 6 PM. It is nice to watch the sunrise over Machu Picchu so I go first thing in the morning.
The town of Agua Calientes (in English translates to ‘Hot Water’). The town is named after the natural warm water springs in town where you can bath. It is not hot enough in my opinion. If you have been to a ‘real’ hot springs, this will not be what you expect. The water temperature was about 37 C (98.6 F) which is cooler than you may have experienced before. If you decide to go, just ask anybody which direction to walk. It is walkable from everywhere in Agua Caliente.
If you book my recommended flights, tours, or accommodations, you will pay nothing extra, but I will earn a small commission. This will help me continue to travel and share with you.
Recommended tours and accommodations:
Here are the tours available to Machu Picchu. Keep your above options in mind when selecting a tour. I recommend booking your tour through Viator Cusco Tours or Get Your Guide Cusco Tours. These are tour aggregators. That means they just publish tours conducted by third parties. Some tours are better than others. So you need to read the reviews. Look for a tour that has at least 5 reviews that sound good, and 2 of those reviews should be within the last few months.
Where to Stay in Machu Picchu (Agua Caliente):
Many tours include accommodations. But ask what accommodations your tour includes so you can check out the reviews. We didn’t like the reviews on the lace included in our tour so we asked them to book us in another place with good reviews. They did it for us at no extra cost. If they said no, we would have asked for a discount on the tour so we could book our own accommodations. I have listed these from most expensive to least expensive. As you will read, we stayed in the cheapest private space.
- Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel: This is the only 5 star hotel in Machu Picchu. This is not for everyone, but some people want the best and are willing to pay for it. On the day I searched this was about $600 USD per night.
- Hatun Inti Classic Machupicchu: This is a highly rated hotel for a great price in a great location. On the day I searched this was about $92 USD per night.
- Hatuchay Inn: This is where we stayed in Agua Calientes. It is in a great location and was just remodeled. Our room had a hot shower and a balcony overlooking the little creek running through town. Plus, it is right above where people line up at 5 am to catch the first bus to Machu Picchu. So you don’t have to go out any earlier than necessary to catch the first bus. The buses start at 6 am to Machu Picchu but people get in line an hour or two before the first bus. On the day we searched it was about $42 USD per night.
- Ecopackers Machupicchu Hostel: This is a highly rated hostel in Machu Picchu for $13 USD per night in a 6-bed dorm on the day we searched.
Here is information about how to get to Cusco where your tour will likely start to Machu Picchu.
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Thank you, Dan of Vagabond Buddha
I am not offering you these prices. These are just my notes and estimates from the time of my visit and this post. Your costs will likely be drastically different if significant inflation or deflation occurs or the market changes after this post. I will not update these numbers until I am on the ground again here, if ever.