The Journey from Cuzco to Machu Picchu4 min read
The Journey from Cuzco to Machu Picchu
The journey from Cuzco to Machu Picchu is one of the most exciting and memorable experiences you can have in Peru. Machu Picchu is an ancient Incan citadel nestled high in the Andes Mountains, and it can only be reached by train or by hiking the famous Inca Trail. Here’s what you need to know about the journey from Cuzco to Machu Picchu based on our experience.
Getting to Cuzco
Most people begin their journey to Machu Picchu by flying into the city of Cuzco, which is the closest major city to the ancient citadel. You can also reach Cuzco by bus or car from other parts of Peru, but these journeys can be long and winding due to the mountainous terrain.
We flew to Cuzco from Lima, flying with LATAM Airlines for the first time. The flight took around one hour and it is the fastest way to reach Cuzco from Lima Peru.
Acclimatizing to the Altitude
Before you begin your journey to Machu Picchu, it’s important to spend at least one day in Cuzco acclimatizing to the altitude. Cuzco sits at an elevation of over 11,152 feet (3399 m) and Machu Picchu is even higher at over 7,000 feet (2479 m). Spending at least one day in Cuzco will give your body time to adjust to the altitude and reduce your risk of altitude sickness.
On top of that, we also took the altitude pill or the Acetazolamide pills. You can get the Acetazolamide pills from pharmacy in Malaysia and some countries, you might need doctor prescriptions. You need to take Acetazolamide pills at least two days before you fly into Cuzco and the dosage varies from individual. We didn’t have any altitude sickness during our trip to Cuzco.
Taking the Bus and Train
Our journey from Cuzco to Machu Picchu is arranged by our Peruvian family and it started with two hours of mini bus ride and then taking another two hours train ride to Aguas Calientes, which is the town at the base of the mountain where Machu Picchu is located.
There are several train companies that operate between Cuzco and Aguas Calientes, and you can choose from different classes of service depending on your budget and preferences.
Arriving at Machu Picchu
Once we arrive in Aguas Calientes, we took the shuttle bus up the winding road to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Our train package includes the shuttle bus as well as the local guide to Machu Picchu. Please take note that there is a time slot and selective zones of Machu Picchu.
Weather at Machu Picchu
We were lucky as it rained in the morning and cloudy in the afternoon. The weather can be unpredictable so prepare ‘waterproof’ jacket or poncho in case it rains.
Machu Picchu ‘new routes’
There are 5 routes for Machu Picchu as in 2023. We went to Routes 1 & 2 which is high long and high short route while the other routes are 3 & 4 for lower short and long route. Route 5 is for the 2 days Inca trail.
This means you can either venture higher routes only or lower routes only. If you want to do both, you have to pay twice and do the routes on different times (morning and afternoon).
We did the higher routes which is Routes 1 & 2 and it offers more scenic view compare to Routes 3 & 4 as we were told.
Hiking to Machu Picchu
It took us around 2 hours to venture Machu Picchu. The hiking is probably around 20 mins to 40 mins depending on your stamina. As Machu Piccu is only 7,972 feet (2,430 meters), it is not that hard walking or hiking around. You probably having more hard time in Cuzco as it is around 11,000 feet.
We spent around 2.5 hours walking around Machu Picchu and taking photos and videos. It is a mild walk and you will enjoyed it!
The Journey from Cuzco to Machu Picchu
8 am – Taking 3 hours mini bus ride to Ollantaytambo train station
11 am – Taking 90-minute train ride on Inca Rail Frequency 43 via The Voyager Machu Picchu Train to Aguas Calientes, the Machu Picchu Pueblo.
12.45 pm – Reached Aguas Calientes
2.15pm – A guided walking tour of the Inca ruins lasting approximately 2.5 hours
5.30 pm – Back to Aguas Calientes for quick bite or shopping.
7pm – Board The Voyager Machu Picchu Train on Frequency 46 for the return trip to Ollantaytambo.
8.45pm – The last 3 hours mini bus ride back to Cuzco.
Package Price: US$ 314 per person for the mini van and train ticket inclusive of guided to Machu Picchu
Overall, the journey from Cuzco to Machu Picchu is an unforgettable experience that combines stunning scenery, ancient history, and a sense of adventure. It is very tiring trip but it is a great memorable experience. Please do take note that there are a few train companies that offers the entire Machu Picchu guided tours. This is the The Journey from Cuzco to Machu Picchu.
*Photos are take with Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra