The cost of a trip to Machu Picchu depends in large part on your style of travel. For most travelers this trip is difficult to do cheaply and as you have read the way you choose how to get to Machu Picchu greatly influences the cost of this trip.
Machu Picchu Cheap - Transportation
I'll start with the tips to save money on your trip talking about how to get to Machu Picchu cheaper, why? only transportation represents 52% of the total expense of the trip. This is a lot of money.
Unfortunately, the options about how to get to Machu Picchu are somewhat limited and are reduced to 3:
If you decide to try to go to Machu Picchu by train you should know that today there are only two companies that make these routes: Peru Rail and Inca Rail
In terms of comfort, the trains are very similar and both companies strive to be competitive, that is, provide good service, a snack on board and ensure that people are satisfied.
The most notable difference is perhaps that PeruRail has a super luxury category, Hiram Bingham; the prices in this category are almost 400USD just one way.
For people who do not look for luxury, just looking how to get to Machu Picchu have a good experience of going to Machu Picchu by train, my recommendation is that you look on both train pages and choose the one that fits your schedule, starting point and budget.
You can find very good offers depending on the season but from then on, the trains and service are very similar.
Both Peru Rail and Inca Rail trains depart from the same stations, with Peru Rail having more options. To this day there is NO train station in the city of Cusco, the closest to Cusco is Poroy.
All train stations are in the vicinity or nearby towns but has begun to offer a service that is known as Bimodal, which takes you by bus from Cusco to the corresponding station where you will take the train.
If the train ticket you bought does not say Bimodal then it only includes your train ticket, you will have to make the corresponding arrangements on your own to get to the train station. No hurry, this is not complicated to do and I will explain later only mentioned it so you have it to consideration when buying your train tickets.
The train stations to Machu Picchu are:
- Poroy. This is the closest station to Cusco to take the train to Machu Picchu, it is only 20 minutes from the city. It is important to note that this station is not enabled all year round, during the rainy season from January to April the services move to the Ollantaytambo station. The Poroy station is used only by the company Peru Rail
- Urubamba. This station is located in the city with the same name, the number of departures by train is limited and to get from Cusco to Urubamba you will have to take a taxi or a bus. Trains usually leave this station early so you may want to spend the night in the town of Urubamba
- Ollantaytambo. This is the main station of all the trains that go towards Machu Picchu, both companies (Peru Rail and Inca Rail) start from here. The town itself has several vestiges and Inca archaeological sites so my recommendation is that you arrive the day before and know the town or leave early from Cusco, hire a private taxi and negotiate the price with the taxi driver so that before leaving you at the train station will take you to the surrounding archaeological sites. In this way you could say that you kill 2 birds with one stone, get the transport to the station and also know a little more about the Sacred Valley.
If you chose to go by train from Ollantaytambo your options to get from Cusco are basically 2:
- Collectives or minivans. These are some vans that as they are filled out, sometimes take 30 minutes to fill all passengers. This is the cheapest way to go from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, besides the vans are pretty good. You can find them all at the stations that are on Pavitos Street, near the Plaza de Armas. On the map on the right you can see exactly where they are. The cost of these vans are between 10 and 15 soles per person and if I remember correctly they have departures from 2 A.M. for people who want to take the first train. These groups can not be booked, is to arrive and wait for it to be filled, even some buses do not leave until 6 A.M., if you have a train too early my suggestion is that you leave a day early or use the other form of transport.
- Taxi from Cusco to Ollantaytambo. Your second option to get from Cusco to Ollantaytambo is by private taxi with a capacity of up to 4 people and has a cost of 100-120 soles depending on the negotiation. You can book the taxi from your hotel or with an agency.
The road is the road and there is little to change so the price will depend entirely on the agency you choose and what it includes. On average you will find Cheap Inca Trail starting with the $ 550 USD, to this you must include several things like the tip of the guides, if you want to hire the service of a porter, the own of the porters and cooks, the equipment that you are going to rent (things like the You can rent a sleeping bag and trekking poles in Cusco), etc. According to the comments of several people who have made the trip, this is one of the trips where you will appreciate having paid a little more to have more comfort.
In case you have not found a place in the Inca Trail and go by train it seems quite expensive there is a last option to go to Machu Picchu from Cuzco, the Alternative Way.
This option is the cheapest and is preferred by backpackers. It consists of a mixture of transport and a 10-kilometer hike following the train tracks.
- From Cusco to Santa María. It is necessary to leave as early as possible, early I mean 7 A.M. You must be taking the bus that will take you from Cusco to Santa María. These buses are taken from the Santiago Bus Terminal or also known as the Quillambamba bus terminal. The trip from Cusco to Santa Maria is about 5 hours but can take up to 7 hours, so the need to leave as early as possible.
- From Santa María to Santa Teresa. Arriving at Santa María you will find several taxis and shared vans that will take you to Santa Teresa, the journey takes about 40 minutes. If you did not leave at all early then arriving in Santa Teresa it is better that you look for a place to spend the afternoon and the rest of the night otherwise it will be at night to travel the Alternative Path.
- From Santa Teresa to Hydroelectric. In Santa Teresa you will have to take another taxi that takes you to Hidroeléctrica, it's about 20 minutes on the road, that is 10-15 kilometers, so do not even think about walking them, this taxi will drop you at the entrance of Hidroeléctrica. If possible, try to negotiate with the taxi driver of Santa María to take you all the way to Hidroeléctrica so you save a little time. From Hydroelectric to Aguas Calientes. At the entrance you will be asked to register and they will indicate you where the road is, you will begin to walk along the tracks and then you will find some signs where you have to turn towards the tracks that really take you to Aguas Calientes. All the way is done following the tracks, crossing the Urubamba River and surrounding the mountain of Machu Picchu. The road will take you at least 2 hours depending on your pace, calculates 3-4 hours to be sure. So, yes the sunset is at 6 P.M. They have to be walking at 2 P.M. at the latest so that it does not get dark at night, otherwise it might be better to sleep in Santa Teresa and continue the next day.
The whole walk of the Alternative Path is done following the train tracks, and yes, the train passes but there is no need to worry there is enough space for the train to pass without problem. In the same way train drivers are aware that thousands of people make this route so always warn with much anticipation that they will pass.
Machu Picchu Cheap - Lodging
Cusco is the starting point for Machu Picchu however to visit the archaeological site you will have to go through the town of Aguas Calientes. A small tourist town where you will find hotel options for all budgets in case you decide to spend the night, but if you want to save money on Machu Picchu hotel then here are some tips.
- Book in advance. Unlike airplane tickets, Machu Picchu hotel prices are set seasonally, that is, if a hotel determined that its rate in high season would be $ 25 per night per room, this price will not change if you book a month or A year before your trip, the problem is that hotels with this rate are sold out. At the moment you have your plane tickets, the first thing you should do is book your hotels, both in Cusco and in Aguas Calientes.
- Negotiate prices. In case you are one of the people who prefer to wait at the last moment to book hotels and are traveling by bus then it might be better to wait a bit. When you arrive at the bus station you will notice how many people will begin to offer tourist services, tours and especially hotels. This is where you can start negotiating the price directly with them, if you are good at negotiating you can find a good Machu Picchu hotel at a very good price. An added bonus is that some of them will take you free of charge from the bus station to the hotel, so save some money from the taxi.
- Stay in Santa Teresa. If you have decided to take the Alternative Path to Machu Picchu and the prices you find in Aguas Calientes seem expensive then an additional option is to stay in Santa Teresa. Instead of starting your walk on the same day you can spend the night here and do the walk early the next day. If you start walking at 7-8 a.m. you will be arriving at the entrance to Machu Picchu around 12-1 in the afternoon, this time is ideal since most of the tourists will be gone and you will have the place to yourself.
- Make the day trip. If you have decided to make the round trip by train then you can try to make the trip for just one day (go in the morning and return in the afternoon). This option will save you money for one night in Machu Picchu hotel and I only recommend it if you have VERY limited time or the price of the hotel you have in Cusco is much cheaper than what you have found in Aguas Calientes.
You will have to take the train very early in the morning, the first trains leave at 5A.M. and you will be arriving at the Machu Picchu gate at 7: 30-8 A.M. approximately. You will have enough time to see the ruins and take a train after 4 P.M. It is possible to see Machu Picchu in less hours but I do not recommend it at all, this is a place where you will want to enjoy it as long as possible.
Machu Picchu Cheap - Tickets and Tours
In question of booking Machu Picchu ticket, there is very little you can do to reduce the price but in tours there are some tips to save money that could be useful.
- Student Discount. Yes there is a discount for students when booking Machu Picchu ticket, however you must have a valid credential and sale of tickets with student discount are made only in person while in Cusco, can not be done online.
- Negotiate the tours. If you want to hire a tour, either for Cusco, Machu Picchu, transportation to Hydroelectric or even do any of the available trekking that are not the Inca Trail, I recommend you wait until you get to Cusco. You can walk through the Plaza de Armas and find hundreds of agencies where you can compare prices and negotiate. If you are going to do some trekking do not forget to ask exactly what it includes, things like: meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner), transportation, porters, tickets, tips, equipment, etc.
- Tours at the entrance. If you did not previously hire a tour you can get to the entrance to Machu Picchu and get one at a good price. At the entrance you will find several official tourist guides that will give you a tour of the citadel, I really recommend it if you want to know a little more about the history. The advantage of doing this is that you can join a group or create your own and this will reduce the price of the tour (Approx 10 - 15 USD per person). Finally, I remind you that there is a limited number of people who can enter Machu Picchu per day so it is advisable to booking Machu Picchu ticket online, especially in high season.
Machu Picchu Cheap - Meals
Peruvian food is delicious but it does not have to be expensive at all. The following tips for eating cheap in Machu Picchu may seem obvious but I will try to make it as specific as possible so that they are useful to you.
Look for the Picanterías. The picanterías, as the name implies, are establishments that prepare mainly spicy foods. In them you can find the menu of the day that includes 1 or 2 dishes at a very, very reasonable price. In some places even at 4 -5 soles ($ 1.2 - $ 1.5 USD) per full meal.
In Cusco, go to the San Pedro Market. A few blocks from the Plaza de Armas in Cusco you will find one of the most emblematic markets of the city, the Central Market of San Pedro. Here you will find hundreds of small stands of delicious food, cheap and with a very friendly treatment.
Buy snacks in Cusco. If you are one of those who always carry a small snack such as chocolate, cookies, granola bars, etc., then I suggest you buy them in Cusco before leaving for Machu Picchu. Aguas Calientes being an extremely tourist town, the prices you will find are expensive