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Machu Picchu for backpackers
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Machu Picchu for backpackers: easy guide

Machu Picchu is one of the favorite tourist destinations for backpackers from all over the world. The Inca city offers an economical and adventure-filled trip. However, there are some requirements that must be met in order to make the dream of visiting the Wonder of the World come true in this way: the first thing is to get the entrance to Machu Picchu online and in advance. Learn how to make the trip of your dreams come true!



Tourist photographing Machu Picchu
Tourist photographing Machu Picchu

Why Cusco and Machu Picchu is a special destination?
The city of Cusco was the capital of the Inca empire. There you can still see everywhere the walls, streets, palaces and Inca temples made of huge stones carved to perfection. Everywhere you can feel the energy of the sun, the supreme Inca god. Just a few steps away you can visit important constructions, such as Sacsayhuaman, Coricancha, Qenqo, Pucapucara, Tambomachay and more. In addition, in Cusco you can visit natural landscapes of great beauty such as the Humantay lagoon and the 7 colors mountain. Because of this, Cusco is one of the favorite destinations for backpackers from all over the world. There are very good offers of hostels to meet friends paying a very economical price. Finally, Peruvian food, one of the best in the world, can be tasted in several restaurants at a very cheap price (from 2 to 10 dollars). Of course it is impossible not to miss Machu Picchu on the trip, one of the wonders of the modern world.


Machu Picchu economic and full of adventure

Machu Picchu is one of the best tourist destinations in the world. There are different types of trips to get there, from the luxury route to very economical services suitable for backpacker visitors from all over the world.

The luxury trip can include the Hiram Bingham train route, one of the most incredible tourist services on the planet. This train includes free bar with different drinks, wines and beers, lunch and gourmet dinner, music show on board, an outdoor observatory car and even the tour guide service in Machu Picchu.

The backpacking trip includes inexpensive adventure routes. Perhaps the most adventurous and cheapest way to do the trip is with the Hydroelectric route. This includes a bus ride of 179 kilometers (approximately 5 hours by road). This trip has an approximate cost of 15 dollars compared to the tourist train trip that costs 50 dollars on average. From Hydroelectric, the trek to Aguas Calientes and finally to Machu Picchu.

For the Inca city offers many other adventurous experiences. One of the most famous is the Salkantay trek, a 5-day route that covers 70 kilometers on foot through important tourist attractions such as the Humantay lagoon, the Salkantay snowy pass, the jungle of Cusco, the thermal baths of Cocalmayo, the town of Aguas Calientes and, of course, the Inca city of Machu Picchu.

There are also other adventures popular with adventure-loving backpacker visitors: the 4-day Inca Jungle (which includes biking and canoeing), the 4-day Lares trek (which includes a visit to the Lares hot springs), the Huchuy Qosqo trek (which includes a visit to the little-known archaeological site of Huchuy Qosqo) and more. All offer a lot of adventure and, if you do it on your own, very economical prices.

Machu Picchu Route Map by Hydroelectric

The route to Machu Picchu by Hydroelectric

The route to Machu Picchu by Hydroelectric is the most adventurous and economical way to get there, ideal for backpackers and adventurous visitors from all over the world.

The route starts in the city of Cusco where most of the tourist hostels in the region are located. There, at approximately 7 a.m., you board a tourist minivan that will take you 179 kilometers through the mountains, snow-capped mountains and the jungle of Cusco in a 5-hour trip. This bus ticket costs approximately 15 dollars. It can be purchased through a tourist agency, either in person in Cusco or online.

Once at the Hydroelectric train station the visitor can take the opportunity to have lunch in one of the tourist restaurants that are there because the arrival will be approximately at 1 pm. Then you must begin the famous 10 kilometer hike to the town of Aguas Calientes passing through beautiful landscapes, the Vilcanota River and the singing of birds. The hike takes approximately 2 hours.

The visitor will arrive to the town of Aguas Calientes between 4 and 5 in the afternoon on average. Because of this, this route necessarily requires a night of tourist accommodation in this town. By then the visitor should have already purchased his ticket online or in Aguas Calientes (the purchase is one day before). The option of purchasing the ticket online is the most recommended.

The second day is the visit to Machu Picchu. For this you must decide whether to ascend on foot (free) or by Consettur tourist bus (12 dollars) to the archaeological site of Machu Picchu. Most backpacker visitors prefer to walk which involves a route of 8 kilometers mainly by stone steps. This route takes an average of 2 hours.

Once in Machu Picchu, the visitor must show the entrance ticket along with the identity card or passport, with which he/she made the purchase. After the visit to Machu Picchu must return on foot to the bridge Ruinas and, from there, return by road to the Hydroelectric station (2 hours approximately). Tourist buses leave Hydroelectric for Cusco at 2.30 pm on average. The return trip also costs US$15.

In this way, with this alternative route to Machu Picchu, the visitor saves the costly train tickets that, for foreign tourists, cost between 40 to 60 dollars for the outbound leg and the return leg.



Entrance to Machu Picchu for backpackers

Tickets to Machu Picchu can be purchased online at the official website of the Peruvian Ministry of Culture or at the website of a tourist agency.

There is also the option of buying tickets in person at one of the authorized offices in the city of Cusco: on Maruri and Garcilaso streets. However, this option is not recommended as tickets have limited availability and are usually sold out up to a month in advance.

A risky option but that some backpackers practice is to buy tickets in the town of Aguas Calientes one or two days before their visit to Machu Picchu. This is because the village offers up to a thousand tickets for in-person purchase. However, there are also many tourists who want these tickets, so they can hardly be found for the same day of visit.

That is why many backpacker visitors decide to stay in hostels one night before their visit to Machu Picchu. This way they can get a physical ticket to visit Machu Picchu the next day. However, as already mentioned, it is best to purchase the ticket online.

Backpacker visitors do not have discounts on the purchase of the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu. These are the official prices of the entrance tickets.

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


Other activities in Machu Picchu for backpackers

Here are some other activities in Machu Picchu for backpackers and adventure lovers:

  • Overnight at the Machu Picchu municipal campsite – The Aguas Calientes municipal campsite is only a 20 minute walk from the town. There are camping spaces there for a significant cost of approximately US$5. The site also has showers and toilets. The hostels in town cost approximately US$15 per night.
  • Visit the thermal baths of Cocalmayo – The thermal baths of Cocalmayo are considered the best in Cusco. They are in the town of Santa Teresa, on the route by Hydroelectric. You can also camp there. It is one of the most special places in the trip to Machu Picchu. The entrance fee is 5 soles for Peruvians and 10 soles for foreigners.
  • Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu – The Salkantay trek 5 days is considered one of the most beautiful and adventurous routes on the way to Machu Picchu. It covers 70 kilometers in total, in which you visit important tourist attractions such as the Humantay lagoon, the Salkantay pass, the thermal baths of Cocalmayo, the town of Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu. This route can be done with an all-inclusive tour (cost between 300 to 500 dollars) or on your own, requesting lodging and meals on the route that is very touristy.
  • Lunch at the food market in Machu Picchu town – Peruvian food is one of the best in the world and during the trip to Machu Picchu you can enjoy exquisite dishes at very affordable prices. In the town of Aguas Calientes there are food stalls in the local market, whose menus cost as little as 10 Peruvian soles (approximately 3 U.S. dollars). This is the best option for backpacker travelers from all over the world.
Cocalmayo Hot Springs
Cocalmayo Hot Springs – Santa Teresa

Questions and answers about visiting Machu Picchu Picchu for backpackers

  • 1) How much is the entrance fee to Machu Picchu for backpackers?

    The entrance fee to Machu Picchu does not offer discounts for backpackers. The ‘Machu Picchu Solo’ ticket costs 152 soles for foreign adults and 64 soles for adults from the Andean Community of Nations (Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia).

  • 2) What is the most economical route to Machu Picchu?

    The route to Machu Picchu by Hydroelectric is the most economical and adventurous way to reach the Inca city.

  • 3) Can I do the Salkantay trek economically?

    A tour to the Salkantay trek 5 days all inclusive costs 350 dollars to 500 dollars, depending on the tourist agency you hire. The other way is to do it on your own, which is a little cheaper.

  • 4) How to have a cheap lunch during the trip to Machu Picchu?

    The food market in Machupicchu town is the cheapest way to have lunch. A menu costs approximately 10 soles.

  • 5) What are the best hostels on the trip to Machu Picchu Picchu?

    Some of the best hostels in Aguas Calientes are: the Supertramp Hostel, the Illary Inn Hotel, the Machu Picchu Packer Hotel, the Machu Picchu Guest House Hotel, the Hostel Machu Picchu Land B&B and the Casa Machu Picchu Hostel.

  • 6) Can I camp on the trip to Machu Picchu?

    The municipal campsite in Aguas Calientes offers camping space at only US$5 per visitor approximately.

  • 7) What are the discounts on the ticket to Machu Picchu?

    The ticket to Machu Picchu offers discounts for university students, children under 18 years old and citizens of the Andean Community of Nations: Peru, Colombia, Ecuador or Bolivia.

  • 8) What adventure options are the best for a backpacker’s trip to Machu Picchu?

    We recommend doing the route to Machu Picchu by Hydroelectric, enjoying the thermal baths of Cocalmayo and doing the final hike to Machu Picchu Picchu from Aguas Calientes.

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

    No, this trekking route can only be done with a permit issued by a tourism agency.

  • 10) Can I walk to Machu Picchu?

    From Aguas Calientes you can ascend to Machu Picchu on foot through 8 kilometers of routes by stone stairs. It is the most economical and adventurous way to reach the archaeological site.

Advice from people who have been there

Machu Picchu

Joaquin V.By: Joaquin V.

“My favorite place“

“Definitely the best tourist attraction in the world. This is my third time here. The first with a day tour, the second with the Inca Trail and now for Hydroelectric, all were memorable experiences, I plan to return soon.“

 

By Ticket Machu Picchu – Last updated, May 16, 2024