FAQ - Machu Picchu Travel

How can I get to Machu Picchu?
  • There is no road to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu, but you can get there by train or on foot. Kuoda clients travel in the following ways:
    • Train from Ollantaytambo and back to Ollantaytambo or Poroy (Cusco).
    • Train from Poroy (Cusco) and back.
    • 4 day Inca Trail hike (km82) (4 days hiking with 3 nights camping, arriving into Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate) and return by train to Ollantaytambo/Poroy.
    • 1 day Inca Trail hike (km104) (train to km 104 and 6hr (approx.) hike to Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate) and return by train to Ollantaytambo/Poroy.
  • We drive our clients by private car to the station they will de part from and pick them up to bring them to their Cusco hotel on the way back. Approximate car journey times:
    • Hotel Sacred Valley to Ollantaytambo station, 20-40 minutes
    • Hotel Cusco to Ollantaytambo station, 2 hours
    • Hotel Cusco to Poroy station, 30 minutes
  • There is also the so-called “back way” or “Inca Jungle Trek” to Machu Picchu, but we do not offer this to our guests. This involves driving to Hidroelectrica and either hiking or catching the train the rest of the way to Aguas Calientes. We do not offer this to our clients.
What are the different types of train available?
  • PERU RAIL perurail.com
    Peru Rail has the biggest variety of schedules and Kuoda uses this company as standard. Peru Rail has 3 different train types:
  • Expedition: This is the lowest class tourist train although still comfortable. Previously, Expedition trains did not have windows in the roofs, but now they do, although they are smaller than the Vistadome windows. A small snack and limited drink choice is offered in both directions. Carriages are less stable, leading to more movement. There is more luggage storage on the Expedition service. Kuoda usually does not use this service unless there is limited availability.
  • Vistadome: This is the first class train, with big windows (and in the roof). There is a bigger choice of beverages and a snack service in each direction. The carriages are more stable, but luggage storage is more limited. Kuoda uses this service as standard.
  • Hiram Bingham: This is a luxury train which is much more expensive than the other options since it is more exclusive (84 passengers) and has more inclusions (listed below).

HB one way from PoroyHB one way from Aguas CalientesHB return train
– Small carry-on bag
– VIP waiting lounge at the station
– Brunch onboard
– Soft, hot and alcoholic drinks
– On-board entertainment
– One-way bus ticket AC-MP (exclusive bus)
– Entrance tickets to MP
– Guided tour (group service)
– Afternoon tea at the Sanctuary Lodge
– Small carry-on bag
– Afternoon tea at the Sanctuary Lodge
– One-way bus ticket MP-AC (exclusive bus)
– VIP waiting lounge at the station
– Dinner on-board
– Soft, hot and alcoholic drinks
– On-board entertainment
– Small carry-on bag
– VIP waiting lounge at the stations
– Brunch onboard
– Soft, hot and alcoholic drinks
– On-board entertainment
– Return bus ticket AC-MP-AC (exclusive bus)
– Entrance tickets to MP
– Guided tour (group service)
– Afternoon tea at theSanctuary Lodge
– Dinner on-board

The Hiram Bingham is popular and can be chartered, so check availability during the sales process if your client is interested. IMPORTANT: This train does NOT run on Sundays.

  • INCA RAIL http://incarail.com/
    This is the only other company that runs trains to and from Aguas Calientes. Kuoda generally doesn’t use Inca Rail unless specifically requested or there is no availability on Peru Rail, since the schedules aren’t as good and the prices are very similar. This company only runs between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes. They also have 3 categories at a similar level to each of Peru Rail’s categories: Premium Economy¸ Executive Class, and First Class. Inca Rail also offers a Presidential Service on their Inca Princess Train, with armchairs, meals and space for only 8 passengers; this service is CHARTER ONLY.
What will be the train schedules in my itinerary?

We cannot guarantee train schedules until we receive your booking documents and deposit payment. Train times can be amended up until 1 month before your travel date, so train times may change after you receive your detailed itinerary. Sometimes, even booking several months in advance, the train times we reserve are not ideal due to availability, but generally we are able to improve train schedules 1 month before travel. In general, unless we receive a specific request, we try to secure the following Vistadome schedules:

  • Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes (for 2 day, 1 night visit): 8am or 8:53am
  • Ollantaytambo to km104 (for 1 day Inca trail and Machu Picchu): 7:05am
  • Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes (for 1 day visit): 7.05am
  • Poroy to Aguas Calientes (for 1 day visit): 6:40am
  • Poroy to Aguas Calientes (for 2 day, 1 night visit): 8:25am
  • Aguas Calientes to Poroy (after 2 day, 1 night visit): 3:20pm or 5:23pm
  • Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo (after 2 day, 1 night visit): 3:48pm or 4:22pm
  • Aguas Calientes to Poroy (after 1 day): 5:23pm
  • Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo (after 1 day): 4:22pm
How do I get to the citadel from Aguas Calientes?
  • From Aguas Calientes, there are shuttle buses to the site, run by Consettur. The road is highly controlled and no other vehicles can use it, except for Ministry of Culture vehicles. The journey takes 25 minutes and buses run between 5.30am and 5.30pm, every 15 minutes or more often at peak times.
  • You can walk to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes, but it is a steep uphill hike (a hiking trail cuts through the switchbacks of the road) and although only 3.5km (just over 2miles), the average hiking time is 1.5 hours up (from Aguas Calientes hotel) and a little less on the way down.
How do Machu Picchu tickets work? Do they sell out?
  • Tickets for Machu Picchu are linked to a specific name for a particular date and are not transferable or refundable.
  • The following tickets are available:
    • Machu Picchu main site (2,500 per day)
    • Machu Picchu Mountain (800 per day, split between 2 time slots)
    • Huayna Picchu (400 per day, split between 2 time slots)
  • Tickets allow you to go in and out of the site as many times as you like on the date specified.
  • It is unusual for tickets to the main site to sell out (although it has been known to happen), and the same goes for Machu Picchu Mountain, but Huayna Picchu tickets do sell out several months beforehand, especially the 10am timeslot.
What are the opening times of the site?
  • The site is open daily from 6am to 5pm., last entry around 4pm.
  • The Machu Picchu Mountain trail has 2 timeslots for starting the hike: 7am-8am and 9am-10am.
  • The Huayna Picchu trail has 2 timeslots for starting the hike: 7am-8am and 10am-11am.
  • If you have a Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu permit, it will be valid for a specific time-slot: you must be at the trail head between the times specified, but you can enter the site earlier if you wish.
Are there toilets at Machu Picchu?

There are no toilets inside the gates, so visitors have to leave the site in order to use the facilities, but can go back in again. The toilet facilities cost S./1.

Can I taking walking sticks into the site?

Technically, walking sticks are not allowed into Machu Picchu unless you are over 65 or have a doctor’s note to say you need to use them. If you are taking walking sticks into the site, they must have rubber tips.

What are Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain?

HUAYNA PICCHU

  • This is the sugar-loaf peak in the background of many iconic Machu Picchu photos, and has some ruins and terraces up top, which can’t be seen from the main ruins site. Views from the top of this peak are the opposite from other viewpoints like the Sun Gate, the Guard House and Machu Picchu Mountain, so it is more unique.
  • There are two time slots each day, 7am-8am and 10am-11am, each with just 200 spaces, and it generally sells out 1-4 months in advance depending on the time of year.
  • The hike is very steep and narrow for the majority of the climb and the path is mostly made up of stairs. The same path is used by people climbing and descending so can get congested
  • The average time for this hike is 1.5-2 hours round trip.
  • There is an alternative return route via the TEMPLE OF THE MOON (described below).
  • Huayna Picchu is not a good choice for people afraid of heights!

 MACHU PICCHU MOUNTAIN

  • This is the highest point on the site, giving a more ‘traditional view’ of Machu Picchu, but with the valleys and mountains in the background. On a clear day you can see Salkantay and Veronica peaks from this viewpoint.
  • There are two time slots each day, 7am-8am and 9am-10am, each with 400 spaces, but it is rare for this hike to sell out.
  • The path is wider and there are often fewer hikers on the trail. Whilst not as steep as Huayna Picchu, it is still steep, with plenty of stairs. The trail is more than twice as long and takes you higher than the Huayna Picchu path.
  • The average time for this hike is 2.5-3 hours round trip.
  • Contrary to what some say this is NOT the ‘easier’ choice for those who are intimidated by Huayna Picchu!
Should I choose the earlier or later time slot for the mountains?

Choosing a time slot is personal preference, but some good guidelines to follow are:

  • From November through March/April the site can be very foggy early on (complete whiteout!), so the later slot is likely to afford better views.
  • During the dry season, the sun gets very hot later in the day and fog is not too much of an issue, so the earlier slot is recommended.
  • If you are hiking the Inca Trail and staying at Wiñay Wayna on the last night, you can do one of the hikes on arrival in Machu Picchu, but you will need to choose the later slot.
Will I be able to climb Huayna Picchu?

You certainly need to be of average fitness to be able to make this climb, but more importantly you should have a positive mental attitude and enjoy the challenge! It is tough, but if you take it easy, you should be able to make it to the top. If you are scared of heights, you probably should not do this hike.

What other hikes can I do in and around Machu Picchu?

Sungate (within the site, no additional permit)
The Sun Gate is the entry point of the Inca Trail, being a main entrance to Machu Picchu during the time of the Inca. You do not require an additional permit to get to the Sun Gate. If you’re a fast hiker, it is certainly possible to visit the Sun Gate in addition to another hike while at Machu Picchu. It takes an average of 1.5 hours round trip to hike this trail, plus time spent enjoying the views.

The Inca Bridge (within the site, no additional permit)
This is a shorter hike, taking about 1 hour round trip from the Guard House. It is mostly flat, although some uphill on the way back. The path has a steep drop off on one side and takes you to the wooden bridge (that you unfortunately aren`t allowed to cross).

The Temple of the Moon (within the site, additional Huayna Picchu permit required)
This is an extension of the Huayna Picchu Trail taking you down the back of the mountain. It is a very steep descent (including a wooden ladder of about 8 meters) to a lower point than the trail head, so involves some uphill to get back to the trailhead. The Temple of the Moon is visited by few people so you can really escape the crowds here. The whole Huayna Picchu circuit including the Temple of the Moon will take around 3-4 hours, but you can opt to visit just the Temple of the Moon if you have a Huayna Picchu Ticket and don’t want to go to the top. However, the Temple of the Moon is not an ‘easy’ hike by any means!

Mandor Botanical Gardens (Outside the site, entrance fee to the gardens, no permit required)
This is an easy 4km/2.5 miles (8km/5 miles round trip) hike from Aguas Calientes along the railway tracks. It takes you to a waterfall and botanical gardens. Opinions vary on whether the visit is worth it, although the scenery along the trail is very beautiful.

Putukusi Mountain (Outside the site, no permit required)
This is the mountain opposite the site of Machu Picchu, with its foot on the same side of the river as Aguas Calientes. This hike is very steep and challenging, with around 100m of almost vertical ladders (330ft) to climb/descend. Good fitness and experience is definitely recommended for this hike. It is often closed during the rainy season or at other times of the year, so you should check with your hotel if the path is open when you are visiting.

Can I hike to Wiñay Wayna from the Sun Gate on a normal Machu Picchu ticket?

No. This section of the trail is controlled and you will not be allowed to hike in this direction.