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Machu Picchu: By Train or by Bus?.. Tours clarification
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22 Nov

Machu Picchu: By Train or by Bus?..


There are many ways to get to Machu Picchu, among them we have the 2 most important and most popular options for now:

  1. By Train: (Route Cusco Aguas Calientes)
  2. By Bus (Cusco Santa Teresa, Hike)

OPTION 1.- BY TRAIN (Route Cusco Aguas Calientes)

In this Moment is the most popular transport  but the train have highest prices.  It is operated by 2 train transport companies (PERURAIL) (INCARAIL), which have similar way of operating the route. Train ticket prices can cost up to over $ 500 on the most expensive services.

The route begins in many cases in the station of Poroy that is above the 3,300 msnm located to about 30 minutes of the center of Cusco. The crossing lasts almost 4 hours until arriving at the town of Aguas Calientes, on the other hand most of the trains leave from the station of Ollantaytambo (2800 msnm) and the section is very short and the journey lasts around 02 hours for a distance of approx. 35 km. In this case the journey is only down to the village of Aguas Calientes (1,900 masl). The best advantage of this train program is that, you do not need to have much time, you can even make the visit of Machu Picchu in a single day, which for many is to fly. (Of course, the benefit is certain amenities provided by the train service)


Depending on the type of service chosen for you,  Expeditions,  Vistadome or Hiram Bingham (old wagons that have been arranged and decorated with great art) the best is the incredible landscape that envelops the road to Machu Picchu and descends from the height of the Sierra Cusco to the beautiful humid forest that houses the Inca citadel.


  • Included in the tickets train are a variety of complimentary natural beverages.
  • The very cortez treatment and friendly staff will assure you a pleasant experience until you reach the train station of Aguas Calientes.
  • Sale of crafts and at some point typical dances as a corollary of the crossing.


Many tourists complain that the prices are very high for the approximately 40 kilometers that run until reaching the town of Aguas Calientes; for this reason more and more tourists choose to make other alternatives to arrive at Machu Picchu, Example, the treks of 02, 04 05 days whose prices many times are at par with the advantage that in the walks you include food, lodging, income and others, which are much more beneficial and more enjoyable.

The Negative:

It is ridiculous that in such a short route, of little more than 100 km, from Cusco to the town of Aguas Calientes, there are up to 05 transshipments, regardless of which station you touch or that you have chosen for the price paid.

If parts of the station of Poroy.-   You have to take a mobility from Cusco to the station of Poroy, route that lasts up to 30 minutes with average traffic. In the same way in the return.

If parts of the station of Ollantaytambo.-   It is much more tedious; you have to take a bus from Cusco to Ollantaytambo station, which lasts up to 1.30 minutes with medium traffic, then board your train to the town of Aguas Calientes (02 hours aprox). In the same way in the return, Train, Bus and finally Taxi to your hotel, which leaves you sometimes more exhausted than a hike.

Important Know:

It is an odyssey to take the local train from PeruRail company, to access Machu Picchu. (For Cusqueños and Locals) There are many complaints of abuse and abuse in the service that this company performs, every day is overcrowded, adults and children who are sitting on the floor of the corridors due to lack of seats. In addition, the seats of the local train are very narrow, the passengers literally travel one over the other. (Take into account if you care about society)

OPTION 2.- BY BUS (Cusco Santa Teresa Route):

According to the National Service of Natural Areas Protected by the State (Sernanp). It is gaining popularity tourists who opt for the alternate route Santa Teresa-Hydroelectric-Machu Picchu especially among young adventurers because part of the route is walked around 2.30h aprox. The route consists first of the mixture of transport by bus and hikes to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.


  • The adventure is specially designed for young people with little money to invest. Even so, knowing Machu Picchu with some effort has its charm.
  • The limitations, deficiencies and high prices of the train service that lead to the town of Aguas Calientes, makes this excursion by bus a real alternative.
  • It is a longer route but very beautiful, you will feel in a short time different altitudinal floors; in less than 02 hours of travel you will enjoy the glaciers of perpetual ice, as well as the warm and cloudy forest of the jungle eyebrow.
  • On the other hand if you like to help, the opening of this path, is contributing to the development of different small towns that are along the way.


If you are a traveler who likes comfort and quality restaurants, this route is not for you, everything is organized to receive the most basic service.

(Basic food, basic lodging)

Big buses do not, small bus yes. Usually, the busetas that provide this service are small private companies that have found in this alternative a nice way to make a living.


As we said before, the prices are quite affordable and accessible to most travelers, usually between USD $ 120 and USD $ 150, the difference lies in the food and lodging they provide.

In this prices are included:   Go and return transportation, lunch and dinner on the first day, admission to the citadel of Machu Picchu and basic lodging

The Negative:

Usually if you go on a train you will need 04 hours of travel, if on the other hand you will come by bus you will need 6 hours of travel plus 2 hours of walking along the route that goes along the train tracks. (Beautiful hike for the large amount of flora that houses the area)

The route is asphalted to the town of Santa Maria and there are no big problems in this, from Santa Maria to Hidroeléctrica the route is not asphalted, therefore the vehicles that are used for this service do not have greater tonnage. This only makes use of vehicles with very narrow and reduced seats, so that as the hours pass inside the bus feel some discomfort.

After visiting Machu Picchu, some do not want to walk another 2 hours and I have seen some who prefer to stay one more night in the town of Aguas Calientes.

Important Know:

To get to Machu Picchu it is important to carry a passport and get on the bus, which will guarantee the enjoyment of the visit of Machu Picchu, otherwise you will not have legs to return to the meeting of your bus back Cusco.

The highest point on the route is the beautiful Habrá de Málaga located at the foot of Veronica mountain at 4,360 masl.

Conclusions: I have used all these services and my personal conclusion is that if you are young, go by bus, you will like it. On the contrary if you spend the 40 years you get on a train that is more comfortable and you will have better services.

For my part, I recommend to all, (Old and Young), the hiking to Machu Picchu, are the best way to reach the Sanctuary, I assure you.



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