Machu Picchu – how not to organize a trip

Before you enter Machu Picchu, you will have a road full of adventures and doubts if you choose a poor tour agency like us. But it’s going to be fun anyway.


Catching a morning taxi

At the beginning, a taxi arrived to pick us up at the hotel. We also made sure that the driver was from the office of Aida – our agent, and that we were going to Machu Picchu. The driver confirmed that everything was correct, so we packed our bags in the trunk and got into the car to get stuck in the narrow streets. Then the driver asked if we were going to the train station and which train. It surprised us a little, because we did not see anything about the train.

Once again we asked the driver if he was from Aida and suddenly something changed and he said no. We it up a bit and got off in the middle of the road to go back 100 meters to our hostel and wait for the right bus.

Bus to Aguas Calientes

After a short while, a bus came to us. You came out with a list, asked if we were going to Mach. We asked if it was from Aida and if it was for sure, for sure, to make sure 100%. So we set off on our way through the congested city, which took us almost 2 hours before we reached the larger bus.

Inside, the list was checked again and suddenly it turned out that we were again taken away by those who should have taken us. Although Emilia asked the driver exactly if he was supposed to take us. Then, really irritated, she exploded with anger when, checking the list, the driver asked her if her name was (say) Pablo. To which she asked him if he looked like Pablo? There was an exchange of opinions in a slightly higher tone, because it was already an exaggeration. Interestingly, there was no guy in the bus who was supposed to be in our place.

It is interesting that the driver under the hostel did not grasp that he was taking 2 girls and a boyfriend, and on the list he had only one guy. Rapids.

We had to get out of the bus, because it was not our carrier and we were invited to the headquarters of this agency to solve this problem somehow. 2 hours passed, and we were not known where. Away from our tour.

Fortunately, the people in the office were able to handle such a situation. They looked at our papers, regarding the trip, and called our (proper) driver. They offered us transport, where by the way we took another lost tourist, who probably also landed in the wrong place. On the way we had one more change and at the end we reached the gas station where our bus was standing. Interestingly, we were still waiting for a few people who were also lost somewhere. So we weren’t the only ones in this mess.

Road to Santa Teresa

We hit the road. It was raining all morning, and we drove endlessly along winding roads among the mountain peaks, which were obscured by fog. I was slowly having had enough, so I offered to take a break, due to the fact that our asses were already hurting and no one else dared to say that he wanted to go to the bathroom.

We stayed in a small mountain village, where we could buy snacks for the road and take care of our needs. Here there is no longer this tourist climate. The more such stops, the better.

Buried bridge

After about an hour or more, we reached the place where all the buses suddenly stopped. In front of us, the road to the bridge we were supposed to drive was so covered that it was difficult to even pass there.

The driver told us to get off, because it is not known when there will be any help that will remove the stones. So we started with the shoe. At this point, our guides gave the bodies, because they only told us that we should go this way until we get to Santa Teresa, where another bus and a warm meal will be waiting for us.

After that, we only saw how the cunning, instead of going with us and guarding the group, get into a car on the other side of the bridge and go to the city. Without organizing any transport for us.

Fortunately, the road was so picturesque that it compensated us for the lack of transport and so for a few hours we wandered with the hope that we would get to the right place.

Avalanche of stones on the road

Another avalanche appeared on our way, but this time more serious. Falling stones covered the road. The passage was inaccessible because smaller and larger stones continued to slide down the slope. Some of them could injure a person, so we had to wait for the team with the excavator to pave the way for the cars and restore traffic.

During all the commotion, I met one of the drivers of our agency and learned that part of the group bounced down the valley and went along the river to the city. Fortunately, I got along with the driver who had a bus and dropped me off at Santa Teresa, where I still had time for the remnants of dinner.

Night fell and after lunch we went by another bus to the hydroelectric power plant, the so-called hydroelectric power plant. Hydroelectrica, where we were to move towards Aguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu.

How to get to Machu Picchu cheaply from Aguas Calientes?

From the shoe.

From Hydroelectrica to Aguas Calientes we can get in two ways. For free, walking along the tracks about 3 hours or pay $ 100 for the train and go 45 minutes. Since we have already gone through so much, these 3 hours, still after dinner, should not harm us and so it was.

We were in the middle of the night, so the requirement was flashlights or headlamps, so as not to hurt ourselves on the way to Aguas Calentes. We walked all the time through the forest on tracks, we also had to cross several small bridges, including one large one, so it was worth seeing what you were walking on. Someone could unintentionally fall through the boards in the tracks straight into one of the streams crossing the tracks. Walking like this in the dark, all the time on the right side we had a river, which was clearly audible, but it was so dark that unfortunately we could not see it.

All the way we were accompanied by two guides who guarded the front and end of the group.

After some time, the river calmed down a bit (you can be a little too early to be happy to see the roadside shops and bars, which are already a few minutes in front of the city). Locals know that tourists have a lot of road ahead of or behind them, so they put shops along the tracks. There you can buy water, drinks and snacks. There are also several bars where you can eat something warm during the day.

Finding a guide in Aguas Calientes

After about 3 hours we reached the foot of Machu Picchu, which we have not yet set off for, because at this time the entrance is closed.

We went to the city, where we had to find a guide to provide us with a hostel. The best part is that we didn’t know what it looked like or what hostel we were sleeping in. We were to learn everything from him. It looked like you were going to the city to the main square in the middle of the night. You have to have an agency wristband on your hand to help with identification, but the most important thing was listening. The guide simply stood in the middle of the square and called out his name until he found all the wards (I wonder how they did it with the GDPR).

After gathering a pile of tourists, the guide from the square took us to another guide who showed us our “surprise hostel”. Hostel with a beautiful view of the station and locomotives that rattled us under the window. As a consolation, we got a warm dinner to eat a little and regenerate before the morning entrance to Machu.

Entrance to Machu Picchu

Here we also had freedom, as in the case of traveling to Aguas Caleintes – either go 1-2 hours to the summit on foot or buy a ticket for a bus that will take us in a few minutes. Of course, we are not shadows, so we chose trekking and were even earlier than our group. Although I admit that this is not an easy walk.

As for the entrance to Machu Picchu, we knew as much as when looking for a hostel. We had to get to the top, where there are entrance gates and cash registers. At this point we were to meet our guide, who would introduce us inside and accompany us in the ruins.

Group Guide

At the gates to the ruins, it is worth knowing that the regulations have changed a little as to the visitors and you should go inside under the care of a guide. Unfortunately, the prices can be high, and the quality is so average that if we choose an English-speaking guide, it is better to open a wikipedia read by a teacher than to listen to them. It seems that for safety and order it may somehow work, but no one seems to control the level of these “guides”.

Fortunately, our English-speaking guide turned out to speak so efficiently and interestingly that no one yawned during this visit. We could listen to the story of Machu Picchu and have a moment to take souvenir photos.

Tickets to Machu Picchu

An important thing to keep in mind before going to Peru is the machu Picchu tickets. A ticket to the city itself costs $ 70 for an adult, students, children and citizens of Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador will pay less.

We have time to enter at selected times, for which you need to buy tickets in advance, because the number of visitors for each day is limited to 2500 people. We can choose to visit from 6:00 to 12:00 and 12:00 to 17:30

Tickets to Machu Picchu and Montana Machu Picchu

Entering the city and Montana Machu Picchu costs $ 86 for an adult. We can enter there in two groups, from 7:00 to 8:00 and 9:00 to 10:00, and the daily limit of visitors is only 800 people.

There is another pass, covering the city and Huayna Picchu, where only 400 people can enter a day, in groups of 200. Entrances take place there from 7-8 and 10:00-11:00.

For this reason, it is worth planning your entrance to Machu in advance and buy tickets before departure if you are going in high season. Fortunately, in March we got tickets in Cusco organized by a tour agency.

cusco hidroelectrica machu picchu 1 - Urbanflavour.pl
For the curious – the time it takes to get to Aguas Calientes (we part of the way to Santa Teresa had to go through avalanches of stones).

Montana Machu Picchu

The whole visit took us a while and here is a catch that you need to remember. There is no toilet in the ruins, and the only one is in front of the gates, so if someone wants to go out for the need, then the second time he will not enter. (because the guide, because the ticket was conquered). You can get around this by buying an additional ticket for one of the additional points such as Mount Machu Picchu or the entrance to Huayna Picchu, thanks to which we can enter a second time and the time of visiting Machu increases. The entrance to the Sun Gate and the Inca Bridge is in the standard pass.

I couldn’t stand it anymore and I had to jump into the toilet and lost somewhere the girls who were supposed to go to Montana Machu Picchu, and they only went to the gate of the sun. They certainly did not go upstairs, because when I got there, I had to write in a special notebook and show my passport – they were not in it.

On the spot I also learned that the road should take me about an hour and at 12:00 you should go down. However, it seems to me that the road took me a little more time, because it is quite long and steep, and due to the prevailing height I was struggling amazingly. Some of the stairs were high and narrow, and the view down was a bit scary, but it made me see the city from the very top of the mountain. I’ll admit that it was hard to take a picture that would reflect the height and the enormity of the space I felt there. You have to experience it yourself. Entering the very top, the city is getting so tiny that it’s hard to take a picture without a long focal length (and I was left only with the phone, by losing the camera charger). I had the impression that I was in the clouds (see the pictures). I also had a beautiful view of the river that winds around the ruins and shows how cleverly the Incas tried to hide this city. It was not easy to get there, and the view from above allowed, well in advance, to see the enemy who would like to approach him. Unfortunately, we may never know why, such a unique city, was abandoned.

After all, I was left with a return to the ruins, finding girls and returning to the city. Although the ascent was not easy, the return on the steep steps was not much easier. The descent from the mountain made me so tired that in front of the entrance gates I was tempted by avocado sandwiches made by a woman on the trail to the city. I think when the emotions subside, the road seems longer. Passing the next serpents of the road, which I passed along the hiking trail, every now and then I thought that it was the end.

Finally, after a few hours, I managed to reach the city, which I saw only at night and had a small problem to get to our hostel. When I got there after several attempts to find the right street, it turned out that the girls had evaporated. Having no contact with them, I embraced myself in the room, because I was already drenched in sweat after all this wandering.

Clean and fragrant, I went out in search of food with a budget limited to 16 salts, which I had left after buying water, fruit and snacks to return to Cusco. I wanted a quesadilla. As it turned out, in the city you could get something good for 20-30 salt, but somewhere in the back of my head I had advice about shopping and taxi drivers that you have to bargain. So when visiting 2-3 premises, I offered my rate per dish.

I managed to get along with one of the owners and for 16 soles I ordered a whole set of quesadilla + guacamole nachos, which in the card were for 32 – deal of life. Everything was tasty and abundantly baked with cheese. Pride! In addition, it was probably the best wifi I met during our trip, because I could easily use a video call on fb. Usually it was very heavy or impossible. Even posting photos on fb or reports I left overnight to send.

While sitting and eating, I met girls who finally reached the city. I was still eating, and they were in such a hurry to visit the hot springs in some local spa that I lost them again. They didn’t wait for me.

I wandered around the city for a while and went to sleep for the day of returning to Cusco. I already knew what could await us.

Return from Machu Picchu to Cusco

I did not expect that the return to Cusco would be easy, after what we went through on the way to Aguas Celientas and Machu Picchu, but at least we were returning by the road, running along the tracks during the day. Thanks to this, we had the opportunity to admire the views that we overlooked at night.

Everything was going well and we arrived at Hydroelectrica before the agreed time. As it approached, we started looking for our bus, which turned out to be nearby for some time. Here, our good mood was slightly tarnished, because they wanted to fit more people from the list in the bus than there were seats. So even though we were waiting somewhere on the side, we got to the bus for standing places.

We were informed that in about 45 minutes we would reach the bridge, which was still covered with stones, and there we would go normally. And here again a small shortcoming, because the road took us probably twice as much and again something was combined with places, but we did not want to agree to further standing. After all, I think you know how many places there are, and how many people are on the list – unless it’s some higher mathematics. Finally, we set off towards Cusco.

Grand Final

The highlight on our way turned out to be a 20-minute break for the toilet, lunch in the bar, where we ordered delicious burgers made of frozen meat. The driver washed the car and began to rummage around it. Then the break was extended by another 40 minutes, so we had time to have tea and admire the views in the vicinity of the bars – greenery and a slope full of garbage. And the driver at that time removed and put on the wheel, which stretched already up to 2 hours and darkness came.

After almost 3 hours, we were finally invited to the bus, which made strange sounds when moving – I thought that the wheels would fall off and we would wait again. It turned out that while rummaging by the bus, they forgot to tighten one of the wheels well. One of the tourists came out to help with a flashlight to devote them and, to make it funny – after all the action the driver almost left him – seriously, they were so overwhelmed. Finally we set off for Cusco, where we arrived in the middle of the night.

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Fotograf eventowy - Marcin Krokowski