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The Ultimate Guide to See Machu Picchu, Peru on a Budget

Being born and raised in South America, Machu Picchu was a place I always dreamed about visiting. It was a dream until the day, I told Steven ” Hey we are in so close to Peru, let’s make it happen”. I found cheap tickets from Guayaquil to Cusco and with a low budget I made my dream come true.

We had a limited budget and few days to explore Cusco, Machu Picchu and its surrounding areas. We were not able to embark on a multi-day trek, so we opted to take a tour.

Cusco has many different options for hotels and hotels, you will easily find something within your budget. When we embark on our adventure we did have anything reserve besides our first night. We recommend doing the same if it is during “low season”. Once you are in Cusco visit many of the tourism shops and ask for their packages. Once they give you a price keep asking for a discount, that is how it works! We pay under $200 per person for the following: A complete tour to Rainbow Mountains (breakfast, tour guide and transportation there and back), the two days-one night tour to visit Machu Picchu and a day tour to the incas sites.

The two days-one night tour to visit Machu Picchu included the bus from Cusco to Hidroeléctrica, lunch, dinner, a nice hotel room with a private bathroom, the guide at Machu Picchu, the tickets to the National Park and the Montaña as well as the ride back from Hidroeléctrica to Cusco.

How to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco vía Hidroeléctrica:

The first day we met at the tour office at 7:30 am to head to the bus. It is a 6 hours drive from Cusco to Hidroeléctrica. Once we arrived to Hidroeléctrica we had to walk 11 kilometers to Aguas Calientes, the walk is not too bad, as it is relatively flat, besides the first five minutes which you have to go up some rock stairs. The walk takes two to two and a half hours.

How to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu vía Hidroeléctrica

Once we arrived to Aguas Calientes, the closest town to Machu Picchu, we meet up with our tour guide, who gave us the tickets to Machu Picchu and took us to the hostel, as well as explain the drill for the next day. We had all evening to walk around town, eat dinner and prepare for the next day.

How to get to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes:

The next day we woke up at 4:00 am to start our hike to Machu Picchu. The gate to the National Park opens at 5:00 am. It is a 20 minutes walk from the city to the gate. However, we recommend you to wake up early and to be first in line, the later you arrive the longer the line is to get in. We arrived at 4:30 and there were already 20 people in line. Ahead of us was a one to one and a half hour hike up the mountain. It can be a little tiresome because the whole hike is climbing steep stairs.

How to get from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu

At the top of the mountain, the main Machu Picchu entrance gate opens at 6:00am. Our tour included a guide who would meet us at the entrance at 6:30 am. We chose to skip the guided tour part to ensure we had enough time to make it up Montaña.

machu-picchu-entrance

When you first enter there are many spots that look great to take a photo and they all will be crowded with people taking selfies. However, if you want the classic photo of Machu Picchu head straight to the Guardhouse before anyone has time to enter the city below and get in your picture.

Machu Picchu Photo Tips

Rather than explore the city ruins, we started with the hike up Montaña. The hike takes around 2 hours each way, but some points are very steep and along the cliff edge. Along the path you get 15 different viewpoints. Obviously, the higher you get the smaller Machu Picchu will be, but the better the panoramic views of the ruins and surrounding valleys will be.

Our favorite viewpoint was number 5, a great combination of Machu Picchu and all surrounding mountains. It is worth going if you like hiking and are up for the challenge, otherwise we just recommend to enjoy Machu Picchu itself.

Heading back down Montaña viewpoint 5

Heading back down Montaña, we went into the Inca ruins of the city of Machu Picchu. We took a ton of photos and videos around each corner. Do your best to not have other tourists in your photos by finding the right angles or waiting for them to move.

We walked around the Inca ruins for about an hour before we began our descent from Machu Picchu, as we needed to be back in Hidroeléctrica by 2:30 pm to get the bus to Cusco.

exploring-machu-picchu

Going downhill from Machu Picchu was harder than going uphill. It takes less time but it is harder on the knees because it is all rock stairs. We then walked the relatively flat 11 kilometers back to Hidroeléctrica to catch the bus. If you arrive with enough time, there are a bunch of small restaurants to enjoy lunch. We arrived back in Cusco by 9:30pm and headed straight to bed!

things-to-do-in-machu-pichu

The most important thing is to make sure you get your tickets for Machu Picchu in advance or make sure your has reserved the tickets for you.

You have three different options for tickets you can purchase. You can get a ticket just for Machu Picchu. If you would like to hike another mountain for panoramic views of the city you can get a ticket to Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu OR to Machu Picchu + Montaña.

The tickets for the two different mountains have specific entrance times, so be aware of the time to not miss your spot!

Each ticket is personal, meaning that it has to have your full name, your passport number, nationality and your age. You will have to show your original ID at the entrance, so make sure you bring more than a photocopy.

If you are a citizen or resident of the Andean community (Colombia, Ecuador, Perú, and Bolivia) you get lower priced ticket for the National Park as long as you show your state ID. If you are a student and have a ISIC student ID, this is the place to use it. It is even cheaper if you have the international student ID than if you are from the Andean Community.

A final note, it is a long walk with a chance of daily rain so bring some sturdy shoes and a lightweight raincoat.

How much does a trip to Machu Picchu Cost?

It all depends on how much you want to spend. You can visit Machu Picchu by train, bus, by tour or even on your own. If you want to hike your way to Machu Picchu you will need to do it with a tour.

When to visit Machu Picchu?

The best time to visit Machu Picchu also depends as the weather in Peru is unpredictable. We visited in the rainy season, December, and it was perfect. If you want to hike the Inca Trail have in consideration that it is close the month of February.

The Rainy Season is from October to April. It is consider the low season as less tourists visit Machu Picchu. During the rainy season you can expect downpour and mist at any point.

The Dry Season is from May to September, it is consider the high season due that you can expect more sunshine and heat.

Machu Picchu Day Trip from Cusco

Machu Picchu is one of the 7 New Seven Wonders of the World, and an unmissable sight for anyone visiting Peru. On this day trip from Cusco, you’ll discover its majesty and mystical power…

For more details, click here!

How to Hike Machu Picchu Travel Video:

More articles from Peru that might interest you:

Read More: Boutique experience in Cusco: El Balcón Hotel

Read More: Tips for Hiking Rainbow Mountain in Peru + How to get to Vinicunca

Read More: Walking Guide of Cusco

Read More: Day trip to the Sacred Valley and its Incas Sites from Cusco

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Planning to climb Machu Picchu Mountain? This post provides details on getting tickets, preparing for the climb, and the level of difficulty to expect The complete guide to visit Machu Pichu The complete guide to visit Machu Pichu

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