When planing our Amazon Cruise my Dad said that we should also go to Machu Picchu. I thought that was a good idea and wondered why I did not think of that because I am after all a Travel Blogger. I think I was more concerned with figuring out when we could both go and how we were going to get there. I was also wondering if I could take that much time away from my business.
Once we decided on the dates I had to figure out how we were going to get from Lima to Machu Picchu and back in the three days. Many people asked me if we were going to be hiking the Inca Trail. My answer to that was we did not have time. Even if we did have time I had no interest in hiking for two or four days at a high altitude just because some people think that it is the only authentic way to get to Machu Picchu.
Since hiking was out the only other option for getting there was taking the train. As far as I am concerned this is the best way to get there. It is comfortable and the scenery is beautiful. You are also not exhausted when you get there so you can enjoy Machu Picchu without thinking that your legs are sore and you have not taken a shower in four days.
Taking the train requires planning because there are options of where you can board it along the route. If you are in Cusco the night before you can take an early train to Agua Callientes. If you are flying in from Lima in the morning like we did you will have to take a bus or cab to Ollantaytambo to catch one of the later trains.
One issue we had with the trains when we tried to book online was that they were all full. Since it was four months before our trip I suspected that this was not the case. The Machu Picchu website also showed that almost all the tickets were available for that day. I think the tours companies put a hold on tickets in advance which is why I could not book our tickets. I contacted our hotel in Cusco and asked if they could help. They said they do this thing all the time and were able to book our train tickets, Machu Picchu tickets, shuttle bus and a tour. They also arranged for a taxi to pick us up at the airport and take us to the train station in Ollantaytambo which is about a two hour drive from Cusco.
There are two companies that provide rail service to Agua Callientes/Machu Picchu: Peru Rail and Inca Rail. Peru Rail runs from Cusco, Ollantaytambo and Urubamba while Inca Rail only has service from Ollantaytambo. Peru Rail has three different classes of service: Hiram Bingham, Vistadome and Expedition. Hiram Bingham is a luxury service and costs about four times as much as Vistadome. Vistadome is the mid level service and includes a meal while the Expedition is the lowest priced option. There is not much difference in price or service level between the Vistadome and Expedition so I would chose based on your schedule.
We chose the Vistadome because it fit our schedule the best. The train was comfortable and had large windows as well as windows on the roof of the train. We were served a light meal on our return trip. There was also a fashion show put on by the train attendants showing Peru Rail’s line of Alpaca clothing. The clothing was for sale after the fashion show. The prices were actually very good and than the prices were lower than we found on similar merchandise in Cusco. I figured the prices would be higher because they had a captive audience but this was not the case.
I really enjoyed taking the train and would recommend it to anyone who does not want to or have the time to hike. Whatever way you decide to get to there you will be rewarded by visiting the amazing Machu Picchu.
- Trains to Agua Callientes/Machu Picchu are run by both Peru Rail and Inca Rail.
- Tickets on the Vistadome train cost about $170 round trip from Cusco to Agua Callientes. Prices are a little lower for Expedition Class trains. Hiram Bingham class tickets are around $800 round trip.
- Trains from Cusco/Poroy take about four hours.
- Sit on the left side of the train when heading to Agua Callientes for the best views.
The Guy says
This sounds like a fabulous idea. I love the stress free way to go in comfort. Not being shattered when you get there and enjoying the view on the way.
The window roof is also a great feature.
I agree. It is a great ride with amazing scenery.
I’m looking to do this in the near future. Thanks for the advice.
Leah recently posted..Initial Thoughts on Life in Rio de Janeiro
It’s a great trip. If you need any more info let me know.
Meagan | LifeOutsideOfTexas.com says
If we ever make it to Machu Picchu then we will definitely take the train. I suffer from pretty severe motion sickness so I’m wondering how I’ll do. That’s the main deterrent. (Any thoughts?)
Also, once you get off the train, you only have to hike up and down stairs to get to the ruins? How strenuous is it?
The train ride was smooth and not very fast. Once you get to Agua Callientes there is a shuttle but up to Machu Picchu. You can walk up but I would not recommend that. There is a lot of hiking up and down stairs at the ruins if you want to see it all.
Definitely sounds like the better option, I love a seat with a view to!
noel recently posted..Friday Photo – 16th Avenue stairs in San Francisco
The train ride was great.
Looks like it’s a great option for Machu Picchu, I think taking the train doesn’t necessarily mean taking the “authenticness” of seeing Machu Picchu. Great pictures, hope to be able to do this one day!
Aggy recently posted..10 Perfect Hideaway Spots
It really is a great way to get there. The hike is limited to a certain amount of people a day so the train takes a lot more people there.
So timely. As I’m now semi-permanently tucked in here in Cuenca Ecuador (after 3 years in Asia), I look forward to exploring the many corners of my newest continent. Furthermore, while I’m arguably fairly intrepid for my dodderin’ age, I must admit I fear I might not be quite up to a 4 day trek to Machu Pichu (and btw, high altitude indeed, even here in Cuenca Ecuador, at 8k+ feet, that altitude takes a bit of getting used to).
But a TRAIN? Per.fect! Thanks for spelling it out – Machu Picchu here I come!
Dyanne recently posted..Catching Up Series: Morocco 4 of 8
If you are used to the altitude you would probably be OK. They also have a two day hike. I still prefer the train.
Paul (the Travelling Boomer) says
Thanks for bringing back the memories of my train trip to Machu Picchu a few years back. It was a great ride, with lots of beautiful scenery and the river rushing by below us. I found it amazing that while people think Machu Picchu is the highest place in Peru, in fact it’s lower than Cuzco, and the sacred Valley looks almost tropical, with air plants growing in the trees. Machu Picchu is a great sight, and the train trip is a great way to get there.
Paul (the Travelling Boomer) recently posted..Five reasons the train is still the best way to travel
Those trains are terribly expensive!
Some take the Inca Trail, which lasts 4 days, but I guess that’s a rough trek.