Day 75: Cusco to Aguas Calientes – How to Organize a Tour to Machu Picchu

What a day!!!!! It took me longer than expected to get to Aguas Calientes… Half way through it started to get foggy and pretty cold with around 5 degrees Celsius. And of course if that would have not been enough it also started to rain… A great combination.

Purchase Machu Picchu Ticket

Before hitting the road I was purchasing my Machu Picchu ticket for the next day in the official ticket shop in Cusco (there is also one in Aguas Calientes). When you could explore the famous Inca ruins for a complete day in the past, the situation changed today and you have to choose between the morning or the afternoon.  Don’t forget your passport!

Oficina de reservas – Casa Garcilaso

  Calle Garcilaso SN – Museo Casa Garcilaso
  Monday – Saturday 07:00 – 19:30
  +51 84 255805
  +51 84 582030 (2000)

Check availability of spots and prices, or purchase your tickets directly online here

The Trip from Cusco to Aguas Calientes

It took me 5 hours to Santa Teresa, one hour more than anticipated. I was happy that it did not rain the whole time through since it quite delayed my arrival time and I still had to walk 2 hours up to Aguas Calientes.

The scenery was breathtaking… Huge mountains painted in all different colours of green. Even though the weather conditions could have been better, I really missed the Andes after spending quite a long time at the beaches of Brazil. 

Stop at Ollantaytambo

My first highlight even before reaching Machu Picchu was Ollantaytambo, the last Inca settlement of the Sacred Valley in the West. While driving on cobblestone streets through the cute little town, I suddenly approached directly the famous Inca ruins. Like a stairway to heaven they have been built into the mountains and left a first taste of what to possibly expect from Machu Picchu. I was excited!

Short “snack break” at Ollantaytambo

“Dominated by two massive Inca ruins, the quaint village of Ollantaytambo, also called Ollanta, is the best surviving example of Inca city planning, with narrow cobblestone streets that have been continuously inhabited since the 13th century. After the hordes passing through on their way to Machu Picchu die down around late morning, Ollanta is a lovely place to be. It’s perfect for wandering the mazy, narrow byways, past stone buildings and babbling irrigation channels, pretending you’ve stepped back in time. It also offers access to excellent hiking and biking.” Lonely Planet.

A lot of “Twisties”

When I enjoyed the first part of the day to Ollantaytambo, I simply loved the road to Santa Maria which was coming next! Curve after curve the twisty road was making its way steep through the mountains, requiring all of my attention. So much fun, if there would have not been suddenly the rain and the cold at the top of the mountain pass. When I loved my gloves from Heldt in Brazil, I hated them suddenly in the Andes, lol. My fingers were freezing cold… However, luckily the rain did not last for very long and the conditions changed drastically again the closer I came to Santa Teresa.

A lot of twists after Ollantaytambo

The last stretch of road between Santa Maria (I missed the exit in Santa Maria, be careful here otherwise you keep on riding for ever 😉 and Santa Teresa was a well maintained dirt road along a river and the beautiful mountains. Simply breathtaking!!!!!!

On the way to Santa Teresa

The Hidroelectrica

Arriving in Santa Teresa, I asked locals for the train station – the hidroelectrica – from where you can either take a train or hike up to Aguas Calientes. I decided to go for the later option, parked my bike at a close by secure parking lot and left my motorcycle clothes, boots and helmet with the “security guard” (I left my luggage in the hostel of Cusco and only had a small backpack with me).

Parking lot close to Hidroelectrica

The train to Aguas Calientes

Apparently, I was not the only one who intended to hike up to the “basecamp” of Machu Picchu and joined a group of backpackers along the way. The hike up to Aguas Calientes took me around 2 hours and was absolutely enjoyable along the treks of the Hidroelectrica and the green lush vegetation of the mountains.

Hike along the Hidroelectrica to Aguas Calientes

Aguas Calientes – Where to Stay

Aguas Calientes is not really a nice place to spent more time than necessary and I was glad I only spent one night in the highly touristy village. Since I wanted to ride the next day back again to Cusco I decided to take the train down to Santa Teresa and bought my ticket at the train station.

Furthermore, I already purchased my bus tickets (return) to Machu Picchu for the next early morning. Exhausted from the day, I negotiated the price for a room in an affordable hotel (Eco Machu Picchu Pueblo), had dinner in a restaurant close by and went early to bed.

The next day should be spectacular.


  1. Purchase your ticket in Cusco.
  2. Drive to Santa Teresa (leave latest at 9 am) and park your bike close to the train station (ride takes 4-5 hours). Leave your motorbike clothes, boots and helmet with the guard.
  3. Either take the train – Hidroelectrica or walk along the tracks.
  4. Get your bus tickets in Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu (return) the evening in advance.

Read here the second part of the report.

From Cusco to Santa Teresa