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Machu Picchu on foot
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Guide to visit Machu Picchu walking

Machu Picchu is located about 100 kilometers from the city of Cusco in the Andes Mountains of Peru. There are several ways to reach the Inca city on foot. Perhaps the most famous way is the 4-day Inca Trail tour, which covers 40 kilometers to reach the archaeological site as the Incas did. However, there are also other routes such as the alternative hike through Hidroeléctrica, the Salkantay trek, or the final 10-kilometer hike from the town of Aguas Calientes. Learn how to get to Machu Picchu on foot!



On the way to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu on foot
On the way to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu on foot

The train trip, how more tourists arrive at Machu Picchu
In Inca times the only way to reach Machu Picchu was on foot through the Qhapac ñan, or Inca road network. Today, more than five hundred years later, the train trip is how most people reach the Inca city. This trip departs from Cusco or Ollantaytambo station in the Sacred Valley. Most trains leave from this station and the trip takes 1 hour 45 minutes on average. The train trip ends at the station in the town of Aguas Calientes, also called Machu Picchu Town because of its proximity to the archaeological site. From there most visitors take the buses that in 30 minutes ascend a mountain to reach the gate of Machu Picchu. In total, the trip takes almost 4 hours. This is the safest and fastest way to get there. The other options are the Inca Trail 4 days or the alternative route by Hydroelectric. There are also trekking routes that take this route by Hidroléctrica as the final stretch: the Salkantay trek and the Inca Jungle.


The trip to Machu Picchu from Cusco

The trip to Machu Picchu begins in Cusco, one of the most touristic cities in South America. To get there, in most cases, you take a flight from the city of Lima, the capital of Peru. The flight from Lima to Cusco takes about 1 hour.

Once in Cusco, the visitor will be just over 100 kilometers from Machu Picchu. Most of them stay in Cusco to, days or weeks later, make their trip to Machu Picchu by train. Other visitors like to stay in a hotel in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, in towns like Urubamba, Pisac, Ollantaytambo or Yucay.

The trip to Machu Picchu by train is one of the ways, the safest and fastest, but not the only one. In addition, you can do the Inca Trail for 4 days (or its short version of 2 days). The other option is the 7 or 8 hour route through the Hydroelectric station. These last two options include memorable treks to Machu Picchu.

These are the prices of the entrance tickets to Machu Picchu:

Entrance Machupicchu Only
Entrance to Machu PicchuForeignersPeru, Colombia, Ecuador or Bolivia
Adults in general152 Peruvian soles64 Peruvian soles
University students77 Peruvian soles32 Peruvian soles
Under 18 years of age70 Peruvian soles32 Peruvian soles
Entrance Machu Picchu with Huayna Picchu
Entrance to Machu PicchuForeignersPeru, Colombia, Ecuador or Bolivia
Adults in general200 Peruvian soles112 Peruvian soles
University students125 Peruvian soles80 Peruvian soles
Under 18 years of age118 Peruvian soles80 Peruvian soles
Entrance Machu Picchu with Mountain
Entrance to Machu PicchuForeignersPeru, Colombia, Ecuador or Bolivia
Adults in general200 Peruvian soles112 Peruvian soles
University students125 Peruvian soles80 Peruvian soles
Under 18 years of age118 Peruvian soles80 Peruvian soles
Entrance Machu Picchu with Huchuy Picchu
Entrance to Machu PicchuForeignersPeru, Colombia, Ecuador or Bolivia
Adults in general200 Peruvian soles112 Peruvian soles
University students125 Peruvian soles80 Peruvian soles
Under 18 years of age118 Peruvian soles80 Peruvian soles
Entrance Machu Picchu with Inca Bridge
Entrance to Machu PicchuForeignersPeru, Colombia, Ecuador or Bolivia
Adults in general152 Peruvian soles64 Peruvian soles
University students77 Peruvian soles32 Peruvian soles
Under 18 years of age70 Peruvian soles32 Peruvian soles


Map how to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail trekking route 4 days

The 4-day Inca Trail trekking route is considered one of the best treks on the planet. It goes through paths with a lot of history, which were built by the Incas hundreds of years ago, and allows access to the Inca city, as the Incas did: through the Qhapac ñan and the Intipunku or Sun Gate.

In total, we walk approximately 40 kilometers in three days of trekking and three nights of camping. On the last day, you will visit Machu Picchu and return by train to Cusco. This route can only be done with an all-inclusive tour organized by a tourist agency.

The Inca Trail runs along historic roads, the qhapac ñan, whose entrance is only done with authorization managed by a tourist agency. The tours include everything necessary for the adventure: pick up from the hotel, transportation to the starting point of the trek, the professional tour guide, entrance fees, the team of cooks for food, the necessary equipment such as campsites, blankets, mats and porters who carry on their backs these implements for cooking and camping. It also includes the necessary tickets for the return trip by train to the city of Cusco.

The trekking route is intense but surrounded by beautiful Andean and high jungle landscapes. During the hike, the visitor will appreciate important archaeological sites such as Patallacta, Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca, Wiñayhuayna, and in the end, Machu Picchu. The Inca city is reached as the Incas reached it: through the Intipunku, a sacred gate that allows a first scenic and memorable view of Machupicchu.

During the four days, the visitor will experience a lot of culture, nature, and everything far away from telephone signals or the internet. The highest point of the trek is the Warmiwañusca pass (the pass of the dead woman in the Quechua language), located at 4,215 meters above sea level. The lowest point is the town of Aguas Calientes, located at 2,040 meters above sea level.


The trekking route Salkantay trek 5 days

The Salkantay trek 5 day is one of the best trekking routes in Cusco, for some, even superior to the Inca Trail because it allows to know better tourist attractions along the route.

Its name is because the hike includes the passage through the Salkantay mountain pass, about 4,600 meters above sea level (the highest point of the hike). It also includes beautiful places such as the Humantay Lagoon, the Cocalmayo hot springs, the archaeological site of Llactapata, the town of Aguas Calientes, and, of course, Machu Picchu.

In total, there are 70 kilometers on average, from the starting point in the town of Mollepata to Machu Picchu Town. However, the Salkantay trek also has a short version of four days that reduces this distance to approximately 50 kilometers.

This hiking route is free for everyone. That is to say, the visitor can do it with a tourist agency or on their own. During the route, camping is done at three points: the town of Soraypampa (3,910 masl), Chaullay (2,800 masl), and Lucmabamba (1,800 masl). The last night is spent in a hotel in the town of Aguas Calientes (2,040 masl). If you do the Salkantay trek on your own, you can rent lodging in these places without any problems.

The tour to the Salkantay trek includes the necessary for the visit: pick up from the hotel in Cusco, transportation to the starting point of the trek, professional guide, entrance fees, camping, food provided by cooks, and in tourist restaurants, necessary equipment such as horses for loading equipment and the return trip by train to Cusco.

The last part of the Salkantay trek is through the Hydroelectric – Aguas Calientes route. This hike is one of the ways to get to Machu Picchu passing through the town of Aguas Calientes.

This trekking route, for the adventure, the beautiful landscapes, and Machu Picchu, is one of the best experiences on a trip to Peru.

Tourists observing the Salkantay snow-capped mountain
Tourists observing the Salkantay snow-capped mountain

The alternative route by Hydroelectric

The alternative route by Hydroelectric is the most economical way to get to Machu Picchu. It is a bus route to a train station located on the eastern or Amazonian side of the town of Aguas Calientes.

The bus trip from Cusco to Hydroelectric can be done on your own but the best option is to hire a tourist transport agency. The cost of the trip is approximately 15 dollars (30 dollars one way and return). The route starts in Cusco, passes through Ollantaytambo (in the Sacred Valley of the Incas), the Malaga pass (4,200 meters above sea level), the towns of Santa Maria and Santa Teresa (in the jungle of Cusco) until arriving at Hydroelectric after 6 hours of travel on average.

After arriving at Santa Teresa, you must hike 10 kilometers along flat roads surrounded by vegetation and parallel to the beautiful Vilcanota River. This hike lasts approximately two hours and ends in the town of Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu Town. This hike is an adventurous, different and memorable experience in the trip to the Inca city.

Once in the town of Aguas Calientes, due to the time it took to get there from Cusco, the visitor must stay and rest for the next day, the visit to Machu Picchu Town. Most visitors take the bus to the Inca citadel. The other option is to walk up to the archaeological site.

The alternative route by Hydroelectric is the most economical way to Machu Picchu as it avoids the expensive train ride from Ollantaytambo. The difficult part is that it requires an overnight stay in Aguas Calientes. In addition, during the rainy season (January, February and March), the route can be dangerous due to falling rocks or mudslides from the mountains. The return trip follows the same route as the outward journey.

On the road to Aguas Calientes from Hydroelectric
On the road to Aguas Calientes from Hydroelectric

The Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu trek

The town of Aguas Calientes is also called Machupicchu village because it is located only 10 kilometers from the Inca citadel. Trains from Cusco and hikers from Hydroelectric arrive there. For this reason the town is a very touristy spot full of cafes, restaurants, hotels and handicraft stores.

From this town, the only road, called Hiram Bingham, leads to the gate of the archaeological site of Machu Picchu Town. This route is uphill through the slopes of a mountain for 10 kilometers. Most visitors prefer to complete this last part of the trip by bus. Tickets cost US$12 for foreign tourists (US$24 one way and return).

The other option is to do it on foot. This hike is short but strenuous. Instead of following the road, it cuts through hundreds of staircases until you reach Machu Picchu. The route is 8 kilometers long and takes 2 hours on average, depending on the physical capacity of the visitor.

To do this hike you need to show your entrance ticket to Machu Picchu. The route can be walked from 5 in the morning. After the visit to the Inca city you can make the return trip by the same route on foot to Aguas Calientes. The hike is free for everyone.

Heading to Machu Picchu Town from Aguas Calientes Village
Heading to Machu Picchu Town from Aguas Calientes Village

Other treks on the way to Machu Picchu

  • Inca Trail 2 days – This route is a reduced version of the 4-day Classic Inca Trail. It covers only 13 kilometers from the starting point, passing through the archaeological sites of Chachabamba, Wiñayhuayna and entering Machu Picchu through the Intipunku or Sun Gate.
  • Lares trek – This trekking route includes a visit to the thermal baths of Lares. It covers about 37 kilometers on foot (4 days and 3 nights). The last stretch is by train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. It is famous for the Andean villages that teach a lot about their culture and tradition.
  • Inca Jungle – This trekking route includes the practice of adventure sports such as cycling, canoeing, zipline and trekking. It also offers a visit to the thermal baths of Cocalmayo. Each visit covers approximately 50 kilometers. The penultimate day we arrive at the town of Aguas Calientes through Hydroelectric in the jungle of Cusco.
Archaeological site of Wiñaywayna - Inca Trail
Archaeological site of Wiñaywayna – Inca Trail

Questions and answers

  • 1) How to get to Machu Picchu on foot?

    There are several ways to reach Machu Picchu Town on foot: through the Inca Trail, with the alternative route by Hydroelectric, as well as the final route on foot from the town of Aguas Calientes.

  • 2) How many kilometers does the Inca Trail cover in 4 days?

    The 4-day Inca Trail covers approximately 40 kilometers on foot.

  • 3) How many kilometers does the Salkantay trek travel in 5 days?

    The 5-day Salkantay trek covers approximately 70 kilometers on foot.

  • 4) How many kilometers are there from Cusco to Machu Picchu?

    Machu Picchu is located just over 100 kilometers from the city of Cusco (with the train trip passing through the town of Ollantaytambo).

  • 5) How many kilometers are there from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu?

    Machu Picchu Town is only 10 kilometers from the town of Aguas Calientes (Machupicchu Town).

  • 6) How many kilometers are there from Hydroelectric to Machu Picchu?

    The Hydroelectric station is 10 kilometers from the town of Aguas Calientes. Therefore, it is 20 kilometers from Machu Picchu.

  • 7) How to make the route to Machu Picchu by Hydroelectric?

    The route to Machu Picchu by Hydroelectric is done by hiring tourist transport from Cusco. You can do it online and with a tourist agency in Cusco. The average cost is 30 dollars for a round trip.

  • 8) Can I do the Inca Trail on my own?

    No, this trekking route is protected by the Peruvian Ministry of Culture. Therefore, only visitors with a special permit requested by their contracted tourism agency can enter.

  • 9) How many kilometers does the Inca Trail cover in 2 days?

    The 2-day Inca Trail covers approximately 13 kilometers on foot.

  • 10) How many kilometers does the Lares trek 4 days?

    The 4-day Lares trek covers approximately 37 kilometers on foot.

Advice from people who have been there

Machu Picchu

Francis A.By: Francis A.

“Cool“

“It was an adventure full of scenery and we were even able to see some animals along the way. I highly recommend the hike to Machu Picchu by Hydroelectric, without a doubt, an experience you will never forget.“

 

By Ticket Machu Picchu – Last updated, May 17, 2024