The train to Machu Picchu
Enjoy a memorable trip to the heart of the Inca Empire.
Each group speaks a different language. It seems like a modern version of the Tower of Babel. But passengers in this train don’t want to reach the sky because they already come from Cusco, located at more than 3,400 meters above sea level in the Peruvian Andes. Coming from every corner of the Earth, they are traveling towards one of our planet’s most mythical citadels. They will write one of the most thrilling chapters in their logbook: the train to Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.
Undoubtedly, this is the best way to get there. With a registered guide, another option is a several-day walk over the Inca Road or the Salkantay trekking. Going by bus or driving is a less known option and, depending on whom you ask, it may even be qualified as dangerous.
Perhaps during their stay in Cusco many of the passengers of the Machu Picchu train suffered altitude sickness or mountain sickness. These are different terms meaning lack of energy, tiredness and difficult breathing. This sickness forces many visitors to slow down, rest and wait for their bodies to get used to the new environment. The solution is often found in a coca or ‘muña’ tea, two different infusions with carminative or digestive properties.
Inca Rail: train to Machu Picchu
There are two train operators to Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley which share the same railroad. The Inca Rail service departs from Ollantaytambo (1.5 hours from Cusco) to Aguas Calientes, with the trip lasting 1:40 hours.
The second option is Perurail, departing from Poroy (20 minutes from Cusco) to Aguas Calientes (30 minutes from Machu Picchu), which lasts 4 hours. There are three types of Perurail cabins to Aguas Calientes: Expedition, Vistadome and the luxurious Hiram Bingham (honoring the explorer who ‘rediscovered’ Machu Picchu in 1911).
Preparing to Get to Machu Picchu by Train
Only a beginner would try to purchase the train ticket to Machu Picchu on the same day. We recommend you to do it as soon as you have the ticket to enter the Inca citadel. Many have paid for their mistake.
The group in the train to Machu Picchu is diverse and lively. They have planned their visit considering the dry season with clear skies, which lasts from April to October. In November, skies cloud over and it rains from December through March. And those were all the inquiries they made. All the rest was handled by their hotel. This is because explora Sacred Valley’s reservation includes the trip in Perurail’s spectacular Vistadome wagon where the journey is quite an experience.
Thus, more than a means of transport, the train to Machu Picchu becomes an activity on its own. Windows curve over a ceiling that also includes see-through gaps.
And the train to Machu Picchu starts moving. Shortly after, it stops and moves backward. Your concern lasts only until you realize that this is the way it covers the first span, going forward and backward, zigzagging.
The train to Machu Picchu continues with spectacular views of the sierra and the rainforest while descending to the tropical forests and following the Urubamba River at 2100 masl.
A few tips for those who take the Machu Picchu train. Some suggest sitting on the left-hand side of the train (looking forward) since the views are much better. Another recommendation is to use a lens polarizer to avoid window reflections. Otherwise, you may have to stick to the window like a suction pad if you want to be sure not to miss the tour’s extraordinary landscapes.
Enjoy the Ride
The train to Machu Picchu is an adventure on its own right. You can enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Isn’t that the philosophy of the traveler? Those who have the time for it should take it easy. Machu Picchu has been there for 500 hundred years. The group of the explora hotel gets off the train in Ollantaytambo. Their destination is only 20 minutes away in a comfortable van, in the quite area of Urquillos.
Sheltered in one of the Valley’s most remote haciendas, explora Sacred Valley is located in an ancient cornfield surrounded by magnificent mountains that were once home to the great Inca Empire.
This location has a great number of ruins that any traveler would enjoy. However, the explora traveler has more than 20 options, walking or by bike, with guides that make sure that guests can greatly enjoy the area’s unique geography and Andean culture. Starting here, they will undergo an experience that they can call their own. The explora experience. Are you up for it?