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How to Get to Machu Picchu

  |   Machu Picchu

Planes, trains and automobiles: just a few of the ways to get to Machu Picchu. For those planning on visiting the Wonder of the World, you’ll quickly find that there is a wide range of ways to get to Machu Picchu, but we’re here to explain how to do it and help you figure out which is best for you.


traditional women in cusco

Getting to Cusco, Peru

The first step in getting to Machu Picchu is to get to Cusco, Peru. The heart of the land of the Incas, Cusco is the gateway to the ancient Inca citadel. 


Those traveling from within South or Central America may be able to fly directly into Cusco, without having to connect through Lima. Peruvian Airlines and Amaszonas fly directly from La Paz, Bolivia, and starting July 18, 2016, Avianca will be offering a three times per week flight directly from Bogota to Cusco. Those coming from elsewhere on the continent can fly into Lima with a variety of carriers, such as Avianca and LAN.


For those coming from outside of South America, you will also need to connect through the Peruvian capital city of Lima. From North America, LAN, American, Avianca and United offer direct flights to Lima from cities such as Los Angeles, New York and Miami. From Europe, airlines such as KLM, LAN, Air Europa, Iberia, and Air France offer direct flights to Lima from cities such as Paris, Amsterdam and Madrid. Those coming from Oceania, Asia and Africa will find connecting flights on a variety of carriers. 


From Lima, it is a short hour and twenty minute flight to Cusco. There are over forty flights per day doing this route, on airlines such as LAN, Avianca, Peruvian Air, Star Peru, and several smaller carriers. 


machu picchu peru

From Cusco to Aguas Calientes

This is the main determining leg of the journey: will you reach Machu Picchu by train or trek? Of course, the first deciding factor here is which is of greater interest, however time, budget and availability also come into play. While the trek offers guests an entirely new experience, the train is a great option for those with less time to spare. Additionally, some treks book up well in advance, whereas trains are often available until the last minute. 



trekking to machu picchu

Hiking to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail

For those seeking adventure, trekking the classic Inca Trail is the quintessential Machu Picchu experience. You will be able to walk in the footsteps of the Incas, passing remarkable ruins along the trail that few visitors get to see. The trek is of average difficulty, though most visitors will find themselves able to rise to the challenge should they choose to. Treks on the Inca Trail have different starting points, to accommodate different types of travelers. Choose between the 2, 4 or 7-day Inca Trail. Heads up though, this popular trek has a limit of 500 people permitted on it per day (300 of whom are guides and porters), so make sure to start planning in advance! 


Alternative Treks

For those seeking alternative adventures, consider one of the several other treks to Machu Picchu. The Lares Trek, of Intermediate Level, can be done in durations of 3, 5 and 7 days. The Salkantay Trek, for advanced trekkers, can be done in 5 or 7 days. By contrast, the Inca Jungle trek can be done in just 3, and is perhaps the easiest route physically. 



train to machu picchu

How to Get to Machu Picchu By Train

For those seeking a trip with less physical exertion and a shorter timeline, the train is a quick and comfortable way to get to Machu Picchu. Plus, you’ll still get to appreciate the passing scenery on the beautiful journey! For details on the various trains to Machu Picchu, read further here. 


From Aguas Calientes up to Machu Picchu

Once you’ve arrived, by trek or train, to Aguas Calientes, you will be in the little town at the base of Machu Picchu. From here, there are two options to reach the ancient citadel: by foot or by bus. 


An ancient set of steps climb from Aguas Calientes to the top of Machu Picchu, and are an adrenaline-filled choice for those who want as much adventure as they can get. It takes about 45-minutes to climb the stairs, and is only recommended for those in adequate physical condition. 


For those who prefer the bus, you will be able to take it from the center of Aguas Calientes to the entrance of the mountain all day long. 


Most guests choose to return to Cusco from Aguas Calientes by train, or perhaps take the train part way to the Sacred Valley to continue exploring the legacy of the Incas. Talk to us about booking these different options for getting to Machu Picchu. In the end, though, it doesn’t matter how you get to Machu Picchu, just that you go!

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About Rainforest Cruises

Rainforest Cruises is a boutique travel company specializing in Amazon river cruises and tours, providing you with the finest collection of cruises in Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands and Panama. As South American travel experts we have all the advice you need to help you find and book your dream cruise and an unforgettable adventure of a lifetime.


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The Johannson family encounter a sloth on their rainforest cruise.
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