Machu Picchu

The small bustling city built along the sides of the rushing Urubamba river just below the Machu Picchu ruins is called Aguas Calientes. Some refer to it as Machu Picchu City. There are no roads for cars to Machu Picchu City. Access is on foot (several days hike) or by train.

Suggested Itinerary
There are a lot of options. We've outlined some below. Essentially what we gain by visiting the site together, aside from our continued good company, is the opportunity to work more with Puma. So there is some room for variation as to transportation, meals, lodging, etc. We'll make arrangements for one itinerary, taking into account as many expressed preferences as we can. Those of you that opt to continue with us for the trip to Macchu Picchu. Here is the suggested itinerary.  We will adjust according to the desires of the group.

  • August 31 - We say goodbye to our travel mates who will be leaving to return to the US this morning.  As a group, those who are continuing with us will decide if we want to spend the night in Cusco  (If we do this we will transfer to comfortable yet reasonable accommodations in the artsy San Blas neighborhood.) or, alternatively, to take a bus to Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley of the Inca to lodge there, 1.5 hours closer to Machu Picchu.
  • September 1 - Train to Machu Picchu City. We plan to take a train that will arrive in Machu Picchu at 2:30. The ruins close at 5pm.  Overnight stay in Machu Picchu City
  • September 2 - Early morning wake up for those who want to climb Wayna Picchu. The narrow trail can accommodate only a limited number each day, and tickets are given first come, first served.  We would be on the first bus to the ruins to be assured to receive a ticket to climb Huayna Picchu peak. A rendezvous time will allow for later risers to join the group as well.  Leave Machu Picchu City on the 4:45pm  train to travel back to Cusco.

to Machu Picchu
Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu
  • One way train tickets range from $31-60. Prices depend on time of day and class of train taken. "Backpacker" train is best fare. Comfortable seating arranged so that 2 benches (with backs) face one another so that 4 people sit together, two per bench facing the other two.
  • Ollantaytambo is a small, very old city upstream from Machu PIcchu. Travel time between Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu is approx 1.5 hours descending through magnificent mountain flanked valley.
  • Bus Cusco to Ollantaytambo. We may prefer to take a bus from Cusco to Ollantaytambo and then board the train there. If we want local color and take a local bus, the price will be less than $5. Approximate travel  time including bus transfer at Urubamba is 2 hours
Cusco to Machu Picchu
  • One way train tickets range from $48-71. Prices depend on time of day and class of train taken. "Backpacker" train is best fare. Comfortable  seating arranged so that 2 benches (with backs) face one another so that 4 people sit together, two per bench facing the other 2.
  • Cusco means "navel". During the Inca reign is was the center of the empire. It is still the largest city in the area. Travel time between Cusco and Machu Picchu is approximately 3 hours descending through magnificent mountain flanked valley
Bus from train station at Machu Picchu to ruins approx $15 round trip
  • 30 minute bus ride up the mountain.  It's possible to walk but the walk would take about 2 hours.
  • Buses leave every 10 minutes
  • We plan to visit site 2 days, so there'd be two bus trips.
Entrance fee to ruins
  • In accordance with the Peruvian National Institute of Culture (INC), entrance tickets to Machu Picchu archaeological site must be purchased at the INC main office in the city of Cusco at San Bernardo Street and can no longer be purchased at the ruins ticket office.
  • Depending on the exchange rate, the entrance fee will be about $45 per day.  No multiple day discounts.
  • We plan to visit site 2 days
  • Comfortable lodging starting at about $25 per night per person. Deluxe lodging goes up to $700-1,000 per night.
  • We plan to find lodging in the $25 per person per night range.
Puma Quispe
  • We have asked our spiritual guide, Puma Quispe to accompany us to Machu Picchu. He has agreed. We will need to divide the costs of having him with us amongst those that join us. In addition to paying for his transportation and lodging, he charges $150 per day.

Total costs per person
  • We estimate the total cost per person for our 2 day extension to Machu Picchu will be $320-350, not including meals.
Bugs, temperature, altitude  Machu Picchu is at the transitional zone to the jungle. It is more moist and leafy than the highlands. There are small biting insects (mosquitoes and the like) . It'll be good to bring some insect repellent, The day time temperatures will be in the mid 70's. We will be there in the dry season so bring sun screen, hat and sun glasses.  However, Machu Picchu is on the edge of the jungle in a cloud forest so a rain jacket is also a good idea. The altitude is about 8,000 feet above sea level.

Daypack. It'll be good if we can all make this short journey with just a small pack. This'll make the train trip easy, and also allow us to go stright from the train to the site when we arrive, rather than taking out an hour to walk to our hotel, check in, re-assemble, and get back to the bus. (Small packs can be checked at the top.

Huayna Picchu, also known as Wayna Picchu, is the mountain shown in the classic photos of Macchu Picchu. It rises to a height of 2,667 meters and its top covers an area of approximately 2,000 square meters.
Access from Machu Picchu takes about an hour along a trail of almost vertical zigzagging stairways, bordered by dizzying precipices. If you are properly acclimatized to the height, and want to ascend the Huayna Picchu you may.  It is not exactly dangerous - however, anyone wishing to embark on this venture should be focused and cautious.

The pathway to the top is narrow and the number that can ascend in each hour are limited.
There is no additional charge to climb Huayna Picchu but a ticket is required.  It is necessary to acquire a ticket early in the morning (by 6am) before the last one is distributed.

Halfway up, there is another path which ends at the Moon Temple. (Hiram Bingham called this site "The Great Cavern".)  Its builders carved a great temple inside a cave, with niches and "portals" inserted in the stones, with an enormous 8 meter high by 6 meter wide entrance. Its finish is really delicate and it is remarkably located. Its features make theorists believe that it must have been a royal tomb, place of worship and look-out post.

The premises are rectangular with the rocks of the mountains as walls. Its three doors are 1.60 meters high (in the front) and 1.00 m high (at the sides). Inside, there are six trapezoidal niches. The "temple", strictly speaking, consists of a major platform supporting a building which is raised 5 meters above the ground, with an 8 meter-high entrance. To the left, there are five later-built trapezoidal niches with a double jamb, composing one of the most delicate works of masonry in the area of Machu Picchu