Machu Picchu, without a doubt, deserves to be where it is. A 100% cultural destination for those travelers who love history, culture and adventure (like me), and who has been named as one of the New Wonders of the World.
Machu Picchu is an ancient Inca city located at 2,490 meters (8000 feet), commonly referred to as “The Lost City of the Incas.” It is one of the most famous and amazing ruins in the world and a necessary step when choosing Peru as a travel destination.
How to get to Machu Picchu cheap?
All the roads are excellent, full of the same incredible nature and almost the same landscapes are seen. It is not essential to do the “Inca Trail”, and not doing so does not deprive you of things that you are not going to see all over Cusco.
In fact, Cusco is full of routes of the authentic road that formed the Inca Road Network. You will see during your stay several of the same ruins, mountains and landscapes.
To get to backpaking Machu Picchu you can do it in the following ways:
A) By train from Cusco city or Ollantaytambo (closer) through the IncaRail or PeruRail trains. The highly recommended tour of the Sacred Valley, and at the end tell the driver that you will stay in Ollantaytambo. In this way you will kill two birds with one stone and you will be able to take the train directly from this city.
B) In combi to Ollantaytambo (15 soles) and then another combi that leaves you at Km 83 of the train tracks. From there walk the remaining kilometers to reach Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes). It is the cheapest backpaking Machu Picchu route of all but also the most exhausting (after the Inca Trail) since you have to walk about 10 hours to get there.
C) Route Cusco> Santa Maria> Santa Teresa> Aguas Calientes .- Perhaps the preferred route for backpacking Machu Picchu who want to save the cost of the train. It is a bit longer but allows you to enjoy the scenery in the most economical way and make a trekking as interesting as the Inca Trail but less exhausting.
To climb to Machu Picchu you have two options: Go up by bus for $ 12 for foreigners and arrive in 20 minutes or climb stairs for 0 soles and arrive in 2 hours.
Practical information for the Backpaking Machu Picchu
The entrance to the ruins can only be purchased in Aguas Calientes, in an office in the Plaza de Armas (Note: it seems that the government has changed the system and tickets can only be purchased in Cusco, inquire before leaving) . If you are going to get on or off by bus, you can also buy the ticket in advance, in a different office next to the river.
One of the best panoramic views of the ruins is from Mount Wayna Picchu. The climb to this mountain has a limited daily quota. The best way to ensure entry is to arrive at 6 in the morning at the entrance. This means being in the bus queue at 5:00 or at the Puente Ruinas gate at the same time, to walk up.
Alternatively, and highly recommended by the guides and locals, you can climb Mount Machu Picchu, which has no space and also has spectacular views from the Puerta del Sol.
Food and water in Aguas Calientes are expensive. If you do not mind carrying the extra kilos during the walk, buy it in Cusco.