Located in the Cusco region of Peru, the road from Santa María to Santa Teresa Cusco is one of the most dangerous routes in the country.
The path is 22.1 km long. This road tests the skill and courage of any driver. It is definitely not for anyone suffering from vertigo or fear of landslides. Only suicides, madmen, or those who pay to do this should decrease. It joins the small towns of Santa María and Santa Teresa, near the ruins of Machu Picchu.
The road surface is gravel. There is little margin for error on this path. Your wheels will be amazed at the wonderful views of the mountains that stretch before you! They are terrible for drivers prone to vertigo.
In many places, the path is bordered by an unprotected railing of hundreds of meters (many hundreds of feet) over the Urubamba River. The path rises to a height of 2,000m above sea level.
The alternative route through Santa Maria Perú is the least frequented way of reaching Machu Picchu. However, it is a recommended adventure route for young people. It crosses the towns of Santa Maria Perú, Santa Teresa until arriving at the ‘Hidroeléctrica’ train station. From there you walk or travel by train to Aguas Calientes.
The route through Santa Teresa is the cheapest and least frequented route to reach Machu Picchu, and you can also do it on your own on public transport or on an organized tour.
Maybe you are asking how many miles to Santa Maria from Cusco? Well, the distance between Cusco and Santa Teresa is 81 km. The road distance is 412.1 km.
Once at the hydroelectric power station, there are two options to reach the town of Aguas Calientes. The first is to take the trains that generally depart only twice a day in the afternoon and take 30 minutes to arrive. The other option is to walk parallel to the train rails and the Vilcanota river to the final station. This tour takes an average of 2 hours and is an incredible experience due to the adventure and the beautiful landscape that surrounds it.
Flora and fauna abound along it where you can glimpse the variety of orchids and even sigh anteaters in their natural habitat. Go through tunnels where care must be taken. There are vendors that offer mineral water, fruit and other products along the way.
Along the hydroelectric route-Aguas Calientes, the visitor will meet other tourists who also do the walk. Although there is no greater danger on the way, precautions should be taken with trains that carry cargo or passengers on the track. It is not advisable to listen to music with headphones during the tour. All the senses must be aware of the journey. It is one of the best experiences before Machu Picchu.
The path is flat, it does not have slopes that make the journey difficult. It presents signs along the approximate 10 kilometers of the route
Below we will indicate the steps necessary to reach Machu Picchu without using the train or the Inca Trail, through the town of Santa Maria in Perú.
The alternative route through Santa Maria Perú takes approximately 9 hours.
The journey begins in the city of Cusco. There the buses will be taken that will take them in 5 hours to the town of Santa Maria Perú, in the jungle eyebrow of Cusco.
Buses from Cusco to Santa Maria in Perú do not leave from the Cusco land terminal but from a small terminal located on Antonio Lorena street, near the Historic Center of the city. The cost of the bus trip is 25 or 30 Peruvian soles (8 or 10 US dollars).
Once you are in Santa María in Cusco Peru, you will find dozens of taxi drivers who offer to take you to the city of Santa Teresa. The cost of the trip is 10 Peruvian soles (3 US dollars). The trip lasts approximately 1 hour.
You can choose to go to Santa Teresa to spend the night and enjoy the hot springs of Cocalmayo. The other option is to have lunch there to continue the trip to Machu Picchu that same day.
In Santa Teresa are the famous thermal baths of Cocalmayo. In this town, collective taxis are taken to the ‘Hidroeléctrica’ train station. This trip takes approximately 30 minutes. Once at the hydroelectric station, you can choose to go to Aguas Calientes on foot or by train (45-minute trip). Most tourists choose to walk (2 hour trip).
The trains leave only 3 times a day: at 2.17 pm / 2.50 pm / 5.10 pm. The ticket can be purchased at the same station. The trip takes 45 minutes on average. It is recommended to organize the trip to arrive on time at the train departure time.
Walking from the hydroelectric station to Aguas Calientes will take between 2 or 3 hours, depending on the pace at which you advance. The route crosses 2 tunnels, so it is recommended to take your precautions.
From Aguas Calientes you board one of the buses that in 30 minutes will take you to the entrance gate to Machu Picchu.
After spending the night in Aguas Calientes, there is only one last section to get to Machu Picchu. You must choose to reach the Inca City on foot or by bus. Most tourists decide to board the bus.
The bus ride will cost you $ 24 (round trip). A good inexpensive option is to buy only the upward ticket (12 US dollars) and walk back to Aguas Calientes.
Walking to Machu Picchu has a moderate difficulty. The path is along the same path and through a hundred stone steps.
This walking trip can take approximately 2 hours. It is not recommended if tourists travel with children, the elderly or visit the Huayna Picchu mountain.
Upon entering Machu Picchu, you will be asked to present your admission ticket with your original passport. If you do not carry your passport, you will not be allowed to enter the Inca City.
Don’t forget to bring sunscreen and a rain poncho. The climate in the Inca City can change from rain to heat in a short time.
You can return to Cusco by taking 2 routes: the train trip through Ollantaytambo or by the alternative route of Hidroelectrica, the same route that you entered.
The train route is the fastest way to get to and from Machu Picchu. The train journey from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo takes 2 hours. Then you must board one of the minivans to the City of Cusco (2 hours of travel).
The route through Hidroeléctrica (Santa María) is the longest way to return to the city of Cusco. You must walk (or take a train) to the hydroelectric station. From there, take one of the bus services to Cusco (approximately 6 hours of travel).
This train route is the fastest way to arrive and return from Machu Picchu. The train journey from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo takes 2 hours. Then you must board one of the minivans to the city of Cusco (2 hours of travel).
This route is the longest way to return to the city of Cusco. You must walk (or take a train) to the Hydroelectric station. From there you take one of the bus services to Cusco (approximately 6 hours of travel).