Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Machu Picchu! (The economical way...)

Most travelers heading into Peru hope to visit the sacred sight of Machu Picchu...

We, of course, wanted to as well.  The only problem we faced, as we closed in on Peru, and Cusco, was that we thought we were going to have to pay an arm and a leg to get there, and get in...

This is how we did it, and recommend doing it, especially if you'd like to save some dough.

From Cusco to Machu Picchu the cheap way!

-Once in Cusco, find the Machu Picchu ticket office, which is about a 10 minute walk from Plaza de Armas.  It's on a side street that's a little bit hard to find, but after asking a few people, we located it...

-You'll need your passport at the ticket window, and if you have it, a valid student ID, which needs to show the current DATE!  (We tried with our older ones, and they didn't accept), but if you have a current student ID, you'll get your entrance for HALF PRICE!  They do accept credit cards as well.  The regular adult admission tickets cost 128 Soles/person.  We purchased ours 2 days ahead of time, which you'll more than likely need...

-The next step, is to get to Santa Maria, which is a small town about 4 1/2 hours from Cusco.  We took a collective from Cusco, which cost 30 Soles/person.

-Once in Santa Maria, right where you get dropped off, you walk across the road, and find a taxi, or collectivo to Santa Teresa, where you'll spend the night...It costs 10 Soles/person for the 1/2 hour ride down a dirt road to Santa Teresa from Santa Maria...

-Spend the night in Santa Teresa.  It's a nice little town, fairly quiet, and not too touristy compared to others like Ollantaytambo, etc...We found a hostel for 40 Soles/night, that was fairly nice.

-Wake up at a decent hour, and find a taxi or collectivo to Hidroelectrica, a tiny little town on the river, where you'll start your hike.  Our taxi was 5 Soles each.  About a 15-20 min ride...

-Where the taxi drops you off, you'll enter your passport info into a book at a ranger station.  You then start your hike following the railroad tracks towards Aguas Calientes.  It's a beautiful walk, as you are following the tracks through the jungle, and along the Urubamba river the whole time.  Takes about 2 hours to Aguas Calientes.

-Aguas Calientes is also called Machu Picchu Pueblo, and is at the base of the walk up to the ruins.  It is very touristy.  We spent about an hour walking around, until we found a hostel for 50 Soles for the night.  You'll want to rest up, and get a good night's sleep before the early morning hike.

-We woke up at 4am, and grabbed a cup of coffee, before started our hike.  It was pouring rain, and this is very possible here, being in the jungle.  Bring a flashlight (headlamp), and a poncho, as it was very wet.

-Can take anywhere from 45 mins to 2 hours, depending on your fitness level.  Took us 45 mins, which was good timing for us.  Once at the top, you'll show your passport (don't forget it), and your entrance ticket.  Then, you're on your own to explore!!!

-The way out is the reverse, and you can spend another night in Santa Teresa, and bathe in their hotsprings, or take a direct collectivo back to Cusco.  That's what we did, and ended up back in Cusco at 8:30 PM.

This trip saves you quite a bit of money, doing it on your own.  It was also an amazing experience, while we did see people with guide groups doing a very slow walk around the ruins...We brought a book on Machu Picchu, and guided ourselves.  Up to you!

Machu Picchu is one of the most amazing places I've ever been.  We lucked out with amazing weather up top, and the luck of the draw with hardly any tourists there that morning.  A great experience, and a great way to wrap up our Peruvian trip.  Back in Cusco, we're gearing up for our next stint...Bolivia!!!

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