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You can get to Macchu Picchu from Cusco for only $7.50! Say what?!
Yes, you read that right! We almost skipped Machu Picchu because of the high transportation costs that are charged by the train companies. Unfortunately, there are NO roads that go to the village of Machu Picchu, called Aguas Calientes, which is why the train companies can afford to demand a bare minimum of $130 for a return ticket to Machu Picchu. On top of that comes a minimum fee of $10 for a mandatory guide, the $47 entry fee to Machu Picchu, the $24 ticket for the bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu and expenses for accommodation and food. So, visiting Machu Picchu the “normal” way, will cost you at least $300.
But, as always, after some good research, we found the cheapest way to Machu Picchu from Cusco!
We did the ENTIRE 2-day trip for $120 a person! So, how did we manage to spend so little?
In the following, you will read a list showing everything you need to know about traveling on a budget to Machu Picchu:
- Instead of the train, we took the backpacker route from Cusco to Hidroelectrica by bus for $7.50 (25 Soles) per person one way.Where do you find such a cheap price for the bus to Hidroelectrica?We simply talked to someone from a travel agency standing right outside of the Official Machu Picchu Ticket Office in Cusco who then took us to Inti Punku Expeditions right across the street. There, we bought our super cheap bus tickets to and from Hidroelectrica. We talked to many other travel agencies before and none of them offered such a cheap price, even though the locals told us that we shouldn’t pay more than $25 Soles. So, make sure you don’t get overcharged! This way, you will truly get to Machu Picchu for only $7.50!
- The bus ride takes about 5-6 hours and you will leave between 7-8 am in Cusco. So, in order to save more money, make sure to bring your own lunch, snacks and drinks. The restaurants and shops on the way can be pretty expensive! Also, remember, the roads are very windy and the buses are small, so if you have problems with these kinds of rides, make sure to bring a sick bag.
- After arriving in Hidroelectrica, you will hike the 10k or 3h Inca trail from Hidroelectrica to Aguas Calientes. The best thing about this trail is that it’s COMPLETELY FREE! It is the ONLY Inca trail that you can take without a guide and without spending any money. There’s nothing better than this for someone traveling on a budget! Moreover, this hike is super easy, as there are signs leading the way, many other people hiking the trail, and it literally runs along the railway to Aguas Calientes almost the entire time! There are also a few restaurants along the trail, in case you would like to rest.
- In Aguas Calientes, we stayed at the Hostel Machu Picchu Land B&B for $25 a night including breakfast and a private bedroom + bathroom. It was the cheapest place to stay in Machu Picchu that we could find. And we loved it! Nice rooms, bathrooms, staff and breakfast; it was perfect.
- In order to save even more money, we went to the Mercado de Abastos in Aguas Calientes for our meals, as you only pay $1.80 per meal! No restaurant or supermarket in Aguas Calientes can beat this price. And the food at the market is always so much better, as it comes directly from the locals.
- In terms of getting from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu, there are two ways: take the bus or hike. The bus costs $24 round trip and takes around 30 minutes while the hike is free and takes around 90 minutes and can be very exhausting walking uphill.
- Nevertheless, we had to pay the $47 entrance fee to Machu Picchu plus $10 for a tour guide, as you are not allowed to go in without a tour guide anymore!
Let’s do some math. If you do the cheapest option, this is what you will pay:
- $15 round trip to and from Hidroelectrica
- $50 for 2 nights including breakfast at the Hostel Machu Picchu Land B&B (possibly cheaper for you as this is the double room price)
- $47 entrance fee to Machu Picchu
- $10 for a mandatory tour guide
$15 + $50 + $47 + $10 = $122 total plus whatever you spend on food and drinks
This is the cheapest possible way to experience Machu Picchu and it’s worth it! Machu Picchu is truly a wonder of the world.
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