Before I had left to South America, I was pretty stuck on how to get to Machu Picchu on a budget without doing the infamous Inca trail and taking trains to the site. I was able to find a blog two days ago on how a guy had trek to Aguas Caliente under $50. This is the city where most people stay. His trek was on a 2 day travel. Tight on schedule, I opted to get to Aguas Caliente in one day. I had met a girl from France who was able to do it without paying for a train. I wrote down her directions and printed the blogs page.
Everyone in Cusco will tell you that’s impossible and to book a train ticket instead. I left my backpack with the hostel and brought my camelbak with one day of clothes, first aid kit, Steripen, some food and water.
The ride to Santa Maria was amazing. We went through the countryside through the mountains. Although my sister and I are the only ones that are not the locals, the 10 other passengers were kind to us. The kid sitting next to me, Joel, made me feel comfortable going into this unknown minivan. He talked about his church and gave me a quote from his Bible.
Here is how I did it. From Cusco, I got a cab ride for 3 soles ($1.16) to go to Terminal de Quillabamba. You have to tell the driver that you want a “combi”. This is basically a minivan.
Its 2 blocks from the terminal. Don’t expect a counter where you pay a ticket to get into these minivans. Once the taxi driver stops, you are swarmed by ladies asking you where you are going, the cost, etc. They are pulling at your backpack, arm, map, etc to get you to go with them. My friend had paid 30 soles; however, I was able to pay 25 soles ($9.67) for a 4 hour ride to Santa Maria.
The roads are very curvy so bring some meds. It was a trip, I couldn’t sleep because our driver was very reckless and I seriously thought The car was going to serve off. It was the most curviest and sharpest road ever.
Once we had arrived, I spotted two tourists Katrina and David from Germany. I had asked them if they were heading our way. Luckily they were because the next 4 1/2 hours would’ve been costly and scary without them. We get into a taxi for 15 soles each ($5.8) and head to Santa Teresa. We were going to rest and do the hot springs; however, we decided to go directly to Hydroelectric. This ride was even scarier. We were on an unpaved road in a beat up car driving pass the speed limit. I seriously thought we were going to slide over the edge.
Once we arrived, there is a railroad track where you walk to Aguas Caliente. It took us a total of 3 hours to walk to the city. It was dark and was raining at one point but it was worth the amazing views!
We didn’t have reservations but we got a room at Camino Real MachuPicchu Bed & Breakfast with 2 beds and warm showers for 40 soles ($15) Score!
I’m drain now and just want food. I was going to walk from the city to the entrance of Machu Picchu; however, its about a 2 hour trek. We opted to buy a bus roundtrip ticket for $17.
I have to be up by 4am because the first bus is at 5:30am.
Pizza and burrito for dinner with our new friends 🙂