Cheapest Way To Hike Machu Picchu – A Backpackers Guide
So you can’t afford a Inca Trail or your funds are just running too low… Don’t fret heres how you can get to Machu Pichu for little to nothing in ten easy steps:
1. Buy your Machu Pichu entrance ticket the day before you intend to go in Cusco. The only place to get this ticket is in person (with passport id) at the Cusco main tourism headquarters. Ask your hostel where it is. You can easily walk there. The price for entry is 125 sols. If you can, get your hands on a real or fake ISIC student card and only pay half the price!!
2. Get up around 6am the next morning and get ready to head to ‘Terminal de Santiago’ (4 sols or a little more to get to from plaza de arms via a Taxi) to catch a bus for 15 sols to Quillamaba. Ask the driver to get off at Santa Maria. Buy your snacks here or before you leave Cusco as to buy them near Machu Pichu will cost you lots. Buses are strange but should leave approx 7 am. It takes about 5 hours. Otherwise take one of the minibuses outside the terminal to Santa Maria. Ths should cost 25-30sols, and leave all the time after 5am.3. Once in Santa Maria you will be approached by many enthuastic taxi drivers trying to take you to your next destination of Santa Teresa. This should cost 10sols max. You will unlikely go anywhere till the car is full of people hence doing this with three or four people will cut more costs. This is an amazing beautiful ride overlooking a canyon and spectacular river. Nicer than death road in Bolivia! Takes approx 1 hour, but you will drive through rivers, waterfalls and possible landslides.
3. Arrive in Santa Tereasa where you will get a new taxi (very easy) or the same taxi driver will bring you to destination number
4: The Hydroelectric Plant. This costs 3 sols maximum. 20 mins. Or chose to walk it and climb over a terrifying metal platform over the gorging river.
5. Arrive at Hydro plant around 1.30pm if everything went smoothly. From here you start the walk on the train tracks towards destination number 4: Aguas Calenientes (Machu Pichus overpriced tourist town at foot of the mountain). Its a beautiful walk for 2 hours along the amazing river. Just follow the tracks and avoid getting flattened by the train. Keep in mind the noise of the river can mask the noise of the oncoming trains, so be prepared to jump into nearby ditches. Otherwise you can pay stupid money to get the train itself!!
6. Arrive in Aguas Calientes around 4 o clock and find yourself a nice private room in a hostel with hot water for 15 or 20 sols. Plenty to choose from! Note: The further down the side streets you walk the cheaper the places. Warning: food can be very expensive in Aguas, but I did manage to eat a whole menu of the day for 10sol.
7. Get up early (again!!) the next morning and walk towarda Machu Pichu around 4:45am. Its a tough climb with lots of steps. Give yourself at least an hour. The chance to see the sunrise and the lack of people at this time makes it worth the struggle.
8. Arrive at 6am at the gates for Machu Pichu (dont forget ticket and identification. You can get your MP stamp for free after 9am at the entrance in your passport). Enjoy a possible sunrise. Dont pay for water or use of the bathroom. So overpriced. Stay and enjoy the ruins for about 7 hours or as long as you like. Listen in on surrounding tour groups or bring a guidebook with you.
9. Leave MP around 1 or 2 giving yourself at least 4 hours daylight to retrace your steps back to Santa Maria before darkness. Get the 8 o clock bus back to Cusco from the small town of Santa Maria. Sometimes the bus leaves at 8.30 or 9 as it comes from another place first.
10. Arrive in cusco at stupid o clock in the night, tired and smelly but delighted in knowing you saved a shit lot of money and did it the adventuous non-tourist trail way. No massive tour groups etc.In total you should have spent approx 200 sols, including everything (water, accomodation, etc)!! Great savings in comparison to the overcrowded/priced tours. However this is the route that the Jungle Trek groups take, (which costs twice as much but includes the adventure activites and food). Alternatively arrange a private bus they organise straight from Cusco which generally cost 60 sol one way. Just a little more pricey than the local bus/taxi way.If you REALLY want to save money, forget the Machu Pichu entrance ticket and enjoy the views from the nearby Potosi mountain (possibly incorrect name) that overlooks MP. Its free!!!!!Highlights: Watching the clouds create a ghost like city over MP, then in awe as the sun comes out
Pros: Cheap as chips, no tour groups that you must tatter along with. I did it My Way- sense of achievment
Cons: Kind of awkard if things dont run on time