Getting to Macchu Picchu for $85 USD

Oh boy howdy. Peru, you have bewitched me mind, body, and soul and I love- love you. I figured this quote from one of my favorite stories of all time fit perfectly. This country is magical I swear. From my first day in Lima to now, it has been a wild ride and I don’t see it stopping.

Photo credit: Ali

Most people come to Peru for the biggest attraction, Macchu Picchu. I knew I had to make my way there, but I couldn’t fork out the $300-$500 I heard many people handing over. Plus you usually have to book those services months in advance or chance it when you get to Cusco. I knew I had to find an alternative route. I read about an option for reaching Machu Picchu for $1 USD, technically $44 USD after the entrance ticket, but that would require walking 28 km (17 miles) from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. That’s not even including the hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes and around the site. As fun as that sounded I wanted to find another way. And as the travel universe would have it I caught wind of this great option and ran with it. I met a friend in Lima named Ben from Texas who would later be one of the best travel companions a girl could ask for. Together we would embark on this unforgettable adventure.


So how we did it was we went to the OkiDoki Cusco Hostel  and went through their agency which after shopping around, they definitely offered the best price and we felt the best vibes from the staff. The hostel is connected to the agency so you can’t miss it, they also offer tours to other destinations such as Rainbow Mountain. The tour included transportation from Cusco to Hidroélectrica which is about a 6-hour shuttle ride on a very windy road. If you’re prone to motion sickness maybe another the train is a better option for you. From Hidroélectrica you walk to Aguas Calientes which is the town at the foot of Machu Picchu. You follow the train tracks which takes about 2.5-3 hours depending how fast you walk. The railroad is active so you just have to be aware of your surroundings, of course. This route is very popular you will find both tourists and locals doing it.

The walk is lusciously green and beautiful, make sure to have your camera charged for this portion of the trek, too. There are also heaps of small booths and restaurants along the way to get drinks, snacks, or use the bathroom. I think I even saw a place offering showers if you really needed it. Once you reach Aguas Calientes you make your way to your accommodation that is set up for you through the agency. Around 7:30 p.m. you’ll have dinner with a group of other tourists (all prepaid except for drinks). It was a great experience with new friends. We ended up dining in a candle lit setting and listening to a thunderstorm and I have to admit it was one of the coolest dinners of my trip so far.



While at dinner one of the tour guides comes in and explains the options for transportation up to Machu Picchu. The options are either taking the bus ($12 USD one way) or walking (free). Bet you can’t guess what option Ben and I did……


Yup, we walked and the 4 a.m. wake-up call was SO WORTH IT! My barista years trained me for this day.

I highly recommend this route for anyone that’s able. It’s tough, but so rewarding and it’s a great way to start off your morning. While going up a group of local girls and I kept encouraging each other whenever one of us stopped for a break. It was a fun bonding experience. You’ll see many locals and tourists taking this route also.

Once you make it to the top then you have to tackle the line of people waiting at the gates. We arrived at 6:45 and our tour was scheduled for 6:30. Luckily the line moved fast and we caught up with our group in no time. It felt like a dream that we were there honestly. It’s just so mind-boggling how the entire site was found, constructed, and is still intact. It just came as no surprise that it’s one of the wonders of the world.

But as all great things must come to an end so did our time in Machu Picchu. We had to start heading back down by 11 a.m. to make it back to Hidroélectrica by 2:30 p.m. for our shuttle. So with that we took one last look and said our goodbyes to the beautiful Machu Picchu.

We made it back to Hidroélectrica in no time and started the voyage back to Cusco. We got back around 9 p.m. and honestly felt very satisfied with our trip. I have been recommending this agency to anyone I come across that is looking for an alternative route to Machu Picchu. It’s an unforgettable adventure that I can’t recommend it enough for people who are ballin’ on a budget!

Don’t miss out on one of the wonders of the world just because of your pocket book, the travel universe has a funny way of working.

Trip to Machu Picchu for $85 USD includes:

  • Transportation from Cusco to Hidroélectrica
  • One lunch
  • Hostel accommodation (private room)
  • Entrance ticket to Machu Picchu
  • Dinner (drinks not included)
  • Free breakfast (at the hostel)
  • A guide for 2 hours (6:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m.)
  • Transportation from Hidroélectrica back to Cusco

How did you get to Machu Picchu? What was your favorite part of the journey? 


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