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Road from the hydroelectric plant to Aguas Calientes
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How is the road from the hydroelectric plant to Aguas Calientes?

There are three ways to get to Machu Picchu. The best known is the train trip to the town of Aguas Calientes, the last point before reaching the Wonder of the World. The other is through the famous 4-day route known as the Inca Trail. The last one is the walk from the hydroelectric plant, a route of approximately 2 hours through exuberant vegetation until arriving at Machu Picchu town. How is the road? Learn more about this incredible alternative tour to the Inca Citadel.



What is Aguas Calientes? Where is?

Machu Picchu town is known as Aguas Calientes. This is the town located at the foot of the Historic Sanctuary. It is the last point of arrival of the train before going up to the entrance gate of the Inca Citadel. It has numerous hotels and restaurants of various qualities, so it is possible to spend the night there before visiting the Wonder of the World. Due to the mixture of tourists and residents there is a multicultural atmosphere in its streets.

Aguas Calientes has tourist attractions beyond Machu Picchu such as the thermo-medicinal baths, located fifteen minutes from the town’s main square. Other places you can visit are Mandor falls, the Putucusi mountain, the Manuel Chávez Ballón Site Museum, the artisan market and the food market. From Machu Picchu town the buses depart to the entrance gate to the Wonder of the World.

Hydroelectric bridge to Machu Picchu
Enjoy the Hidroeléctrica trek to Aguas Calientes

Two routes to get to Machu Picchu: Inca Trail and the train route

How to get to Machu Picchu is one of the main questions that tourists ask themselves before traveling to Cusco in Peru? There are two main routes to reach the Inca Citadel. The first is the traditional 4-day trekking route known as the Inca Trail. The second is the popular train route of almost 2 hours from the town of Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes.

  • The Inca Trail – A trek of 4 days and three nights to the old entrance gate to Machu Picchu known as the Puerta del Sol or Intipunku. It travels almost 40 kilometers through places of great height and landscapes typical of the jungle. It is considered among the 5 best hiking trails in the world. There is another modality of 2 days. It is necessary to book this adventure months in advance.
  • The route by train – The most common way to get to Machu Picchu. It is a 1 hour and 45 minute train ride from the town of Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. The same time that the Cusco-Ollantaytambo section takes by bus. Once in Machu Picchu town, you must travel for almost half an hour by bus to the entrance gate to the Wonder of the World. Train tickets must also be booked in advance.

The Hidroeléctrica route to Aguas Calientes

There is another way to get to Machu Picchu besides the Inca Trail and the train route from Ollantaytambo. This is the hydroelectric road to Aguas Calientes, also known as the alternative route through Santa María. This journey can be done by train (30 minutes) or on foot (approximately 2 hours). From Cusco, you can get to the hydroelectric plant in the following way:

  • From Cusco to Santa María by bus: The buses take an average of 5 hours and cost between 25 and 30 soles ($8 and $10). They are taken at the terminal located on Antonio Lorena Avenue, not far from the Plaza de Armas in Cusco.
  • From Santa María to Santa Teresa by taxi: Collective taxis (they travel together with other passengers) take an average of one hour and cost between 8 and 12 soles ($3 and $4). They are taken very close to the town square of Santa María.
  • From Santa Teresa to the hydroelectric plant by taxi: Collective taxis depart from the town of Santa Teresa to the hydroelectric plant, which take an average of 30 minutes. The general cost is 5 soles ($2). In the town of Santa Teresa you can enjoy the Cocalmayo hot springs .
Tourists following the hydroelectric route to Aguas Calientes
Tourists following the Hidroeléctrica route to Aguas Calientes

How is the route of Hidroeléctrica?

Once at the hydroelectric plant there are two options to get to the town of Aguas Calientes. The first is to take the trains that generally leave only twice a day in the afternoon and take 30 minutes to arrive. The other option is to walk parallel to the train tracks 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.

The road is flat, it has no slopes that make the journey difficult. It has signs along the approximate 10 kilometers of the route. Flora and fauna abound along it where you can glimpse the variety of orchids and even spot anteaters in their natural habitat. Go through tunnels where care must be taken. There are vendors offering mineral water, fruit, and other products along the way.

Along the hydroelectric-Aguas Calientes route, the visitor will meet other tourists who also make the trek. Although there is no greater danger along the way, precautions must be taken with trains that transport 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.

Landscape of the hydroelectric road to Aguas Calientes
Hidroeléctrica Landscape – Aguas Calientes

How much does it cost to go to Machu Picchu through the Hidroeléctrica route?

This is the average budget of the route to Machu Picchu by Hydroelectric:

Route to Machu Picchu by Hidroeléctrica
PathTransportPrice
Cusco – Santa MariaBus8USD
Santa Maria – Santa TeresaShared taxi3USD
Santa Teresa – HidroeléctricaShared taxi2 USD
Hidroeléctrica – Aguas CalientesOn foot0 USD
Aguas Calientes – Machu PicchuBus12 USD
Total price25 USD

Tips for your trip

The alternative hydroelectric route to Machu Picchu is an economical alternative to reach the Inca Citadel. You do not need advance train reservations or guides to travel along its trails towards the town of Aguas Calientes. However, some precautions must be taken. Here are some tips to enjoy this adventure in the best way:

  • Although advance reservations of tickets or guides are not needed to enhance this trek, it will be of no use to the visitor if they do not reserve the Machu Picchu Ticket. It is advisable to do it months in advance if you intend to visit Huayna Picchu.
  • If you do not want to do this route on your own, another option is to hire a Machu Picchu bus service that transports the visitor directly from Cusco to Hidroeléctrica and vice versa for a few dollars more.
  • The best time to do the route is during the dry season (April to October).
  • It is recommended to bring a hat, flashlight, raincoat (in case of precipitation), sunscreen and mosquito repellent.

Questions and answers about the route to Machu Picchu by Hidroeléctrica

  • 1) How many kilometers are from Hydroelectric to Aguas Calientes?

    This route is approximately 10 kilometers.

  • 2) How to get to Machu Picchu by Hidroeléctrica?

    The route begins in the city of Cusco with a trip to the town of Santa María. Then two short trips are made to Santa Teresa, first, and Hidroeléctrica, second. Finally, a trip is made on foot to the town of Aguas Calientes (Machupicchu town).

  • 3) How long is it from Hidroeléctrica to Machu Picchu?

    The route on foot from Hydroelectric to Aguas Calientes takes approximately 2 hours. Then, the bus route from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu takes 30 minutes.

  • 4) Can I get from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu on foot?

    Although it is possible to do this route on foot, almost no tourist is encouraged because it is a very long route of more than 1 day of walking. The best thing to do is to take the Hydroelectric route.

  • 5) Is the Hidroeléctrica route dangerous?

    The route is simple and safe. However, it is not recommended to do this walk in the rainy season (January, February and March) due to the risk of falling stones.

  • 6) Can I visit Machu Picchu without going through Aguas Calientes?

    The only direct route to Machu Picchu is the 4-day Inca Trail. However, during the return leg you pass through the town of Aguas Calientes.

  • 7) How much does the Hidroeléctrica train cost for Peruvians?

    The train that departs from Hidroeléctrica to Aguas Calientes costs 5 soles for Peruvian tourists.

  • 8) How much does the Hidroeléctrica train cost for foreigners?

    The train that departs from Hidroeléctrica to Aguas Calientes has a cost of 40 dollars for foreign tourists.

  • 9) What to visit or do on my route through Hidroeléctrica?

    During this route you can appreciate beautiful landscapes of the Cusco jungle. An excellent alternative option is to relax in the thermal baths of Cocalmayo in the town of Santa Teresa.

  • 10) Can I return from Machu Picchu to Cusco via the Hidroeléctrica route?

    Yes, this route is also available for the return leg. It is recommended to do it early to get transportation to Cusco in the town of Santa María.

Advice from people who have been there

Machu Picchu by hydroelectric

By:

“An incredible experience!“

“I got up early to catch a minivan at 8am from Cusco. I arrived at Hidroeléctrica around 1 pm and then I walked to Aguas Calientes for two hours. I spent the night there and the next day I visited Machu Picchu. An incredible route, highly recommended!“

 

By Ticket Machu Picchu – Last updated, May 19, 2022

 

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