Your own tour to Machu Picchu

This post is for everyone who is adventurous, or wants to save money, or just wants to be different. Here is a tip how to get to Machu Picchu on your own, without paying an agency.

I don’t know why it excites me so much to do things on my own, rather than utilizing services of travel agencies. Even though, some tours and agencies are really good and when you have a guide it is totally worth it. I just like to organize things myself and it is killing me to sit in a tourist van and not being directly in contact with the locals. For this reason it is perfect to speak Spanish and do it yourself. And even if you don’t speak Spanish, your hands and legs will do the communication job for you ☺

How did we do a – self-organized – trip to Machu Picchu? We did an express tour, everything in 2 days, without real trekking and we spent 6 hours walking in the ruins – which I personally find enough. We didn’t climb Wayna Picchu, because the tickets were sold out. Book in advance, if you want to do it.

Here comes a brief trip summary and cost per person:

Day 1:
6:45am – 7am Taxi from the accommodation to the bus station in Cuzco (buses that go to Santa Maria, ask at your hostel) – 1-2 Sol
7:30am – 1:30pm Local bus from Cuzco to Santa Maria – 15 Soles

1:45pm – 2:45pm Taxi from Santa Maria to Santa Teresa – 10 Soles
2:45pm – 3:45pm Taxi from Santa Teresa to Hidroelectrica – hydro plant – 5 Soles
3:45pm – 6:30pm From Hidroelectrica walking by the train track to Aguas Calientes – for free!
6:30pm Aguas calientes – 1 night in a hostel (we stayed at Angie’s hostel) – 15 Sol
es/night (double bed and private bathroom)
Dinner at Govinda’s restaurant, great vegetarian meal
You can go to hot springs too ☺

Day 2:
5am Get up, stand up for the sunrise at Machu Picchu
… and now you have 2 options, either you walk up the mountain that is steep and it will take you 2 hours and you will sweat a lot and save some money, or you will take a bus up from Aguas Calientes…

5am Bus up to Machu Picchu – 25 Soles
6am – Noon Visit Machu Picchu
Entrance to Machu Picchu: 128 Soles – you have to buy in advance in Aguas Calientes or online!!
Entrance to Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu: 158 Soles – you have to buy in advance in Aguas Calientes or online at least 4 days, because Wayna Picchu can accept only 400 visitors per day!!
Guided tour: There is lot of guides at the entrance waiting for you. The bigger group you are, the better. We paid 30 Soles each and it was a 2 hours tour through the whole Inka city and it was worth it.
Noon – 12:30pm Bus back to Aguas Calientes – 25 Soles (you can walk, we took a bus to be able to catch the train to Hidroelectrica)
1:30pm – 2pm Train from Aguas Calientes to Hidroelectica – 31 Soles
– You can walk back, but because it was raining and we didn’t want to come back late to Cuzco, we took the train
2pm – 3pm: Taxi Hidroelectrica to Santa Teresa – 5 Soles
3pm – 4pm: Taxi Santa Teresa to Santa Maria – 10 Soles
4pm – 4:30pm: Lunch in a local restaurant in Santa Maria
4:30pm – 9pm: Van Santa Maria to Cuzco. There are lot of vans going back to Cuzco, ask your taxi driver or ask directly at the plaza who is available – 20 Soles
9pm dinner and Good night ☺

Total costs for transport, accommodation and Machu Picchu visit: 321 Soles, which is around 123 US Dollars (just for comparison, the train round trip ticket from Ollantaytambo to Auguas Calientes costs 100 US Dollars).

Tips:
– Avoid walking at dark when going from Hidroelectrica to Aguas Calientes and mind the train track
– Avoid taking a van too late, because the road back to Cuzco is crazy and could be dangerous at night
– Bring food and lot of water to Machu Picchu, everything there is very enpensive
– Check the “Puente del Inca” when you are at Machu Picchu
– Get a guided tour directly at Machu Picchu

I wish you lot of fun, you are going to enjoy a lot and if someone knows even a better way how to organize “your own tour”, please let us know! At the end comes a little photo story:

Our taxi to Machu Picchu

Our taxi to Machu Picchu

Walking by the train track

Walking by the train track

Machu Picchu in black&white. It's better when you see it in colors right there :)

Machu Picchu in black&white. It’s better when you see it in colors right there 🙂

Find this rock when walking to Puente del Inca at Machu Picchu and do a funky photo shoot... and be careful!

Find this rock when walking to Puente del Inca at Machu Picchu and do a funky photo shoot… and be careful!

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18 Comments on “Your own tour to Machu Picchu

  1. Wonderful pictures!

    We are going to MP in 3 weeks and are considering returning via Santa Teresa. Do you have any information on train schedules between Hidroelectrica or Santa Teresa and Aguas Calientes in the evening? We are not sure if it is advisable to walk down the train track in the evening after hiking MP.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Frank! I don’t know about the schedules, but I just googled the website of Perurail and you can find the schedules there: https://www.perurail.com/es/index.php
      I took the train back from Aguas Calientes to Hidroelectrica, because I was exhausted after the excursion to Machu Picchu and also I wanted to be there asap to catch a van back to Cuzco. I have to admit that it was a bit scary to drive at night through the mountains. It felt like we were going to fall down to some valley. But nothing happened and it was a great day 🙂 Good luck, buena suerte!

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  3. Good stuff. Been debating doing this vs the 15 mile hike from Ollantaytambo.

    Why rush back to Cusco though? I was considering staying in Santa Teresa a night, and leaving the motorcycle there. Walking to Aguas Calientes, then doing Machu Picchu and staying the night again in Santa Teresa before heading back to cusco.

    I guess it’s all a matter of how much time you have.

  4. Hi Sylvia!

    I am coming from the UK to Cusco on my own in 4 weeks and have already bought my tickets for Machu Picchu and Huyana Picchu. As I am coming on my own and can’t speak a word of Spanish is it simple enough for me to do this? I am worried that I am going to get there and then not have a clue as to how to get to the entrance to MP. Is it something I can do on my own or must I have a guide? I am staying in this area for 3 nights after having stayed in Ollante for 3 nights. Do you know if there is other stuff for me to do round here? Can i just go off wandering. I am a bit of a wanderer and like to just do things at my own leisure. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Muchas Gracias, rob X

    • Also do you reckon 3 nights might be a bit much for this area? If I can only really do Machu Pichuu it is pointless me staying on for so long right? I am not paying to see it three times!
      PS Great article! Thanks again abnd take care, rob

      • Hi Rob. Sorry for my late reply. I recon that 1 or two nights are ok. I stayed only 1 night at Aguas Calientes, went to Machu Picchu the next day and back to Cuzco. I hope that this helps. Safe travels!

    • Hi Rob
      Just wondering how your trip went.
      I am thinking about doing this trip on my own in May
      I’m a little overwhelmed not knowing where to start the planning process.
      Any pointers / tips you can offer would be helpful
      Cheers!
      Christina

  5. great info!
    just one question do we need a permit to hike by ourselves on the top of the ticket?

    • Hi Agata. I’m not sure if I understand 🙂 You need to go with a guide when you go on Inca trail. But you can hike on your own when you go from Aguas Calientes up to Machu Picchu. I hope that this helps.

  6. Hi Silvia,

    Is walking from Hidroelectricaby the train track to Aguas Calientes safe for a single female traveller? I’m planning to to do it in the morning after spending the night in Santa Theresa.

    • Hi Ria

      I recommend that you team up with someone and go together. It’s a longer walk and it’s always nicer to have a company. Ask some people in the hostel or on couchsurfing if they want to join you in this adventure 🙂 Safe travels!

  7. Do you know if this is possible towards the end of the rainy season (late Feb / early March)?

    • hey! I’m not sure if it’s possible exactly in those days, but I was there in April, so it should be fine. You can ask the locals, at the hostel or hotel…

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