To visit Machu Picchu you must first reach the city of Cusco and from there start the excursion to Machu Picchu. Traditionally all visitors to the archaeological zone of the Inca city of Machu Picchu must pass through Machu Picchu town (Aguas Calientes), located in the high jungle area of southern Peru, at 2,300 m.s. and 112 Km. from the city of Cusco. (Map of Machu Picchu) In Machu Picchu Pueblo there is no airport, no roads, no cars, no taxi services, everything is within walking distance. The only means of communication with other cities is by rail.
This is the option most used by travelers. Its great advantage is the saving of time, it is the fastest alternative. In just three hours you go from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. Its starting point is the Poroy station, 25 minutes from the main square of Cusco. For 40 soles, a taxi can take you to the station. The final station will be Machu Picchu, in Aguas Calientes. You also have the option of getting on the train at the town station of Ollantaytambo, which is an hour and a half from Cusco. Many travelers prefer to visit Ollantaytambo before going to Machu Picchu. Then it is more convenient to get on the train in said town.
The train has three levels of service.
The tickets can be purchased on the company's website, Peru Rail. There is also the option of the Inca Rail company. Their prices are a little lower, but the schedules are usually not good.
The second most popular option. Arrive at Machu Picchu as in the old days, through the roads used by the Inca Empire. Well ... not as in the old days.
Formerly the roads allowed the Inca Empire to move from Cusco through the Sacred Valley, to Machu Picchu. At present, for a tourist theme, the famous Inca Trail that the agencies sell and the one authorized by the Peruvian government, starts at km 82, near Ollantaytambo. It's about two hours of travel from Cusco by train. So, what we call the Inca Trail, is only a part of those ancient roads. The classic tour lasts 4 days and 3 nights. Day 4 is not part of the road itself, it is the day you visit Machu Picchu. There is another option, which instead of carrying out the Inca Trail in 4 days, is done in 5 days. Doing it in more time helps decrease the physical demand. Yes, demand, because it is a path through the mountains, which reaches up to 4,200 meters above sea level, with lack of oxygen. Definitely, it's not for anyone. But you do not have to prepare a year either. With running two or three months before is enough. Also, arrive a few days before Cusco to acclimatize to the altitude. Of course, the better prepared you are, the less difficult it will be for you, and the more you will enjoy it. The great advantage of the Inca Trail, although a little folkloric this advantage, is that Machu Picchu is accessed through the Puerta del Sol, the original entrance to the citadel, and not the one currently used in the rest of the options, the tourist door to say it in some way. In case you want to book this way, you must do it several months in advance, about 6. Since the demand is high and only 500 people per day are allowed. Among those 500 count the cooks, guides, etc. And the cost, well, is the most expensive of all the options. Up to usd 600.
This is another that became very fashionable because the quotas for the Inca Trail are completed quickly. The Salkantay, although many agencies sell it as an Inca Trail, is not. It is an alternative road, not regulated by the Peruvian government, so it has no quota limit. It is a road of 5 days and 4 nights. Some agencies offer the option to do so in 6 days. One of the main advantages that I see, is that you get to a higher altitude than the Inca Trail, up to 4,500 meters above sea level and the snow-capped mountains are impressive. Also, the demand of this road is a little greater than that of the Inca. The end of the road is in Aguas Calientes, and not by the Puerta del Sol as the Inca Trail. The Salkantay Trail ends in Santa Teresa, and from there you will walk along the train tracks to Aguas Calientes, as well as the Alternative Road. Its price ranges from USD 520 to USD 900, depending on how many people are.
This is the short version of the famous and amazing Inca Trail, for those who have little time available, but in no way want to miss this unique walk and enjoy beautiful landscapes and diversity of plants such as the Orchid and variety of birds. This walk is 11 kilometers, the walk lasts approximately 6 to 7 hours until you reach the Puerta del Sol known as Inti Punku, where you can get the first panoramic views of Machu Picchu.
This road leaves from the town of Lares, near Cusco. Walk several points of the Sacred Valley in 4 days and 3 nights (option to do it in 5 days). It ends in the town of Ollantaytambo, from where the train is taken to continue towards Aguas Calientes.
Choquequirao is a city similar to Machu Picchu that was discovered some years ago. And only now it is beginning to explode tourism. They are still in the stage of investigation, excavations, and cleaning of the brush. Being a place still almost untouched, I think it's worth going. But yes, this path is not for anyone. It is the most difficult of all and in the world of trekking it is cataloged with Difficult Level. That is, it requires a lot of physical demands, you have to prepare very well. The road lasts 8 days and 7 nights. After visiting Choquequeirao, the road to Machu Piccu begins.
This is another quite recent alternative and with a lot of adventure. The road begins in Ollantaytambo, and from there are 4 days of adventures. You will have downhill by bike, rafting, zip line, and of course, trekking. With this option you will also get to Santa Teresa to walk the tracks to Aguas Calientes. A different option and that is shaping up as a good alternative to the Alternative Way or at Km 82.