Voted in as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu is a destination visted by hundreds of thousands of people each year. There are plenty of options with Machu Picchu like hiking one of the trails or getting the bus. I only had time to do the bus. There are many Cusco round trip tours you can take, however I found it just as fabulous or even better on my own. Not to mention I saved hundreds of dollars! Here is how to do Machu Picchu on your own, part 1: getting there.
My loop was Cusco – Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes – Ollantaytabmo – Cusco. A tour for this can cost you $1,060AUD (for a single traveler) I was able to do it for $530! Yes, saving 50% of the price of a tour. I know you can miss out on meeting other tourists. Although I felt that I was amalgamating myself with the locals more than I would have if I was on a tour. Also, it’s a great time to relax, take in this wonderful part of Peru and have some time to yourself. A few tips before getting into the itinerary:
- It is safe (ask your accommodation in Cusco about borders to stay in/don’t go into certain neighbourhoods)
- It is easy (have patience at times like with the colectivos)
- Don’t eat in town squares/main streets/esplanades etc (if you want to save money these places are highly priced)
- Learn as much Spanish as you can!
Most will arrive by plane into Cusco. From the airport if you haven’t organised transportation, a taxi with inside the airport premises is the best and safest option. Make sure you don’t take the initial price as it will be high. I paid 30 soles ($12AUD) to my hotel which was out of the town square (further trip).
I stayed in a quaint hotel that was lovely. It included complimentary coca tea and a complimentary breakfast. This was 112 soles ($44AUD) for a queen room with an ensuite.
Next morning after breakfast, I checked out and caught a taxi for 5 soles ($2AUD) to the Colectivo on Pavitos (street). I was really lucky here, where instead of waiting for a van to fill up I caught a car/taxi with three lovely local ladies. This cost me 15 soles ($6AUD) (5 soles more than a van) and I sat up the front. It was a pleasant and beautiful drive. It takes around 1.5 hours to get to Ollantaytambo.
In Ollantaytambo (oh-jen-tay-tambo) my train didn’t depart for hours which was great. I was able to exchange USD for Peruvian Sol, walked around the town, had a fantastic 3 course meal for lunch which was 15 soles ($5AUD) and checked out the ruins. The ruins are the main attraction and must do here. You get an amazing view of the village. Entry is 70 soles ($28AUD). Note: look into other packages of entry connected with Cusco.
There are two train operators to choose from – Peru rail or Inca rail. I went both ways with Peru Rail and they were great. I paid for premium as it was close to the price of the lower fare. Premium has better views, apparently better food and entertainment from MP back to Ollantaytambo (which can get annoying after a while). The round trip cost 550 soles ($220AUD). But there really isn’t another option, even if you do tours they catch the train.
This is “Machu Picchu” town. It is at the bottom of the site and where everyone stays and enters (apart from the people walking the trail). This is a beautiful town that you should get out and explore. There are fabulous markets near the train station. Prices here are higher compared to other places like Cusco. The food is amazing but walk around to find some better deals. If you are an avocado lover, make sure you try the stuffed avocados!
When you arrive, make sure you collect your Machu Picchu tickets if you haven’t printed them already. Be sure to also purchase your bus tickets which were 25 soles ($10AUD) in March 2017. It is a great idea to buy food for the next day. People tend to spend hours inside the site and there is no water or food available. Luckily, you can bring your own. Take your rubbish with you and bring plenty of water.
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