The city of Cusco, located in the Andes mountain range, southeast of Peru, was the capital of the Inca Empire and is one of the most important tourist destinations in Peru and the world. In addition, it is known for the strong Spanish colonial influence it had. This place has a lot of tourist attractions but the main one is Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu is one of the seven wonders of the modern world and is on the Unesco World Heritage List. The architecture and technology applied by the Incas in the development of the terraces of the citadel are highlighted, as well as the stories related to the Inca lifestyle, being one of the resting residences of the Inca Pachacutec.
Access to Machu Picchu can be done in two ways: by the Inca Trail and by train. Peru Rail train to Machu Picchu offers a magical ride in which, before arriving at the historic sanctuary, you can feel the Andean energy.
Peru Rail train to Machu Picchu offers unforgettable experiences on its trains. Tourist and luxury trains, with the best service on board that will allow you to enjoy the magical views of the route in the heart of the Andes.
At least two PeruRail trains depart from Ollantaytambo station daily for Aguas Calientes, near Machu Picchu. The Vistadome leaves at 7:30 AM and arrives in Aguas Calientes at 10:52. It returns from Aguas Calientes at 4:40 PM, arriving in Cusco at 8:25. A second Vistadome service departs at 8:25 AM. The round-trip fare is USD 85. Snacks and beverages are included in the price, and the cars have sky domes for great views. The return trip includes a fashion show and folklore dancing.
The Expedition train Machu Picchu train leaves Cusco at 6:40AM, arriving in Aguas Calientes at 9:54. It leaves Aguas Calientes at 3:20 PM, getting back to Cusco at 7:00. The one way trip fare is USD 55. Conditions are comparable to second-class trains in Western Europe and are quite comfortable.
A second Vistadome or Expedition train Machu Picchu may be added during the June-August high season, depending on demand.
All trains make an exaggerated series of five zigzag switchbacks, climbing as they leave from Cusco before descending into the lower-altitude Sacred Valley. Trains stop at km 88 (the start of the Inca Trail), and km 104 (the launch point of an abbreviated two-day Inca Trail). Arrival is in Aguas Calientes, where you catch the buses up to the ruins.
Vistadome and Expedition train Machu Picchu depart from Cusco station, where, in theory, same-day tickets can be purchased but waiting that late is risky. Purchase tickets in advance from the PeruRail sales office at Cusco´s Wanchaq Station, weekdays from 7 to 5, and weekends and Peruvian holidays from 7 or from a travel agency. (Most tour packages include rail tickets as well as bus transport to and from Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu and admission to the ruins, and lodging if you plan to stay overnight). Also in theory, PeruRail accepts e-mail reservations through its Web site: you send them the names, passport numbers, and travel dates of all passengers-then take the confirmation they send you. At best, that procedure is cumbersome, and we hear frequent reports of e-mails not being answered or confirmations never received.
PeruRail´s luxury Hiram Bingham train proffers a class of service unto itself (with prices to match). Luxury train to Machu Picchu depart from Poroy station, about 15 minutes outside Cusco, eliminating the tedious switchbacks necessary for the other trains to get out of and into the city. Departure time is a more leisurely 9 AM. daily except last Sunday of the month, arriving at Aguas Calientes at 12:30 PM. Return service leaves Aguas Calientes at 5:50 PM, returning to Poroy at 9:20 PM. The time table permits you to stay at the ruins for a few hours after the day visitors have departed on the mid-afternoon trains back to Cusco. Luxury train to Machu Picchu consist of two dining cars, a bar car, and a kitchen car, and evoke the glamour of the old Orient Express is the parent company of PeruRail. The trip back entails cocktails, live entertainment, and four-course dinner.
If you´re using the Sacred Valley as your base, PeruRail operates a daily Sacred Valley train departing from Urubamba at 10:30 PM, with arrival in Machu Picchu at 1:34 PM. Return trains leave Aguas Calientes at 7:30 PM and arrival Urubamba at 10.37 PM. One way trip fare is USD 160.
Shuttle buses connect Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu. This cheapest train to Machu Picchu also can give you more time to spend at the ruins than you´d have with a Cusco departure, or flexibility of travel at various times of day. A daily cheapest train to Machu Picchu departs Ollantaytambo at 6:10 AM, 7:45 AM, 8.29 AM, 12.55 AM; arriving at Aguas Calientes at 7:40 AM, 9:15 AM, 9:54 AM, and 14:25 PM correspondingly. Return from Aguas Calientes are at 5:35 AM, 8:53 AM, 2:55 PM, 3:20 PM, 4:22 PM, 6:20 PM, 8:50 PM, 9:50 PM; with arrival in Ollantaytambo at 7:44 AM, 10:52 AM, 4:31 PM, 5:08 PM, 6:10 PM, 8:05 PM, 10:20 PM, 11:35 PM correspondingly. One way trip fare is USD 55.
PeruRail´s service is generally punctual. Peru Rail train to Machu Picchu schedules and rates are always subject to change, and there may be fewer trains per day to choose from during the December to March low season.
Tourists are not permitted to ride the Local Train, the less expensive, but slower train intended for local residents only.