Travel with ease to Machu Picchu and give yourself more time to explore Cusco, the ancient capital of the Incas.
Climb aboard the train and wind your way through the Urubamba Valley to Aguas Calientes, the gateway town to Machu Picchu. From the comfort of your seat, notice the changing views as you travel deeper into cloud forests set amidst the Andean mountain peaks. After making the journey from Cusco, (if you're not already excited) the anticipation will set in and you’ll be feeling fresh and ready with plenty of time to explore the mother of all Inca ruins – Machu Picchu.
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No, the train leaves from the town of Ollantaytambo and reaches its final station at Aguas Calientes, which sits at the base of the mountain where Machu Picchu is located. From Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu there is a 30-minute bus ride or about a 1.5-hour steep walk if you’re feeling active.
We work with Inca Rail or Peru Rail, depending on ticket availability.
There are approximately 8 departures a day but not all fit our itineraries. Our trip itineraries are designed to make sure you have enough time to explore the site and make the most of your visit.
A 1.5 hour train ride from Ollantaytambo takes you through the winding Urubamba Valley to the gateway town of Aguas Calientes, which is perched in the cloud forest at the foot of the magnificent Machu Picchu. Here you’ll take a 30-minute bus ride to reach the entrance of the site.
The journey involves a 2-hour ride from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, followed by a 1.5-hour train ride from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. Depending on your trip, you will spend the night before in either Ollantaytambo or Cusco.
Current regulations of Machu Picchu allow visitors to explore the ruins in one of two timeslots: morning or afternoon. You can choose one of three designated circuits, to be followed in one direction only. On completion of your chosen circuit, you'll need to leave the site; exploring the ruins afterwards on your own is currently not allowed. Tours usually last for 1.5-2 hours.
Arriving via bus, you'll have time to explore the upper section (Sun Gate and Inka Bridge). Then your guided tour of Machu Picchu will run from 10 am until 12:30 pm.
On all trips that include the Inca Trail, you can opt to take the train option instead. If you let us know your preference at the time of booking, there are no extra fees involved. If you need to change plans at a later stage, fees may apply. The closer to departure date you make the change, the higher the change fees may be, as most services will have already been confirmed and paid on your behalf.
Yes, you can. If you change your mind and wish to trek after booking the train option, you can:
- Request to book the Inca Trail, subject to permit availability
- Hike the equally incredible Inca Quarry Trail, which includes a visit to Machu Picchu.
Change fees may apply. As mentioned, the closer to departure you request the change, the higher the fees may be.
Your tour leader will be with you catching the train. Most trips tend to have all three of these options in demand, with some choosing the Inca Trail, some choosing the Quarry Trail and some taking the train. Those who hike will be accompanied by specialised mountain guides during the 3–4 day trek, which means your tour leader can stay with those opting to take the train.
Your tour leader will make sure you don’t miss the train. If plans change and tickets need to be changed, our operations team in Cusco will look after that.
Some. Think domestic flights where soft drinks, coffee and tea are offered.
There are toilet facilities at the train station as well as on the train. They are better than what you would expect on a domestic train in a developed country.
The bulk of your luggage will stay in Cusco. You’ll travel to Machu Picchu and back with a small day pack.
Some trains offer a Wi-Fi service – it’s best not to rely on it though.
Yes. Your tour leader will give you a ticket with a seat number.
Yes. If you let us know your request in advance we can accommodate most special needs.
Meet our team
Maritza, operations manager
"I am passionate about empowering local Indigenous communities, especially women, and am also a committed defender of Mother Earth, known in the Andes as Pachamama. I have also worked tirelessly with local communities and governments to help improve the sustainability of treks in the Cusco region".
“It will be a pleasure to share our traditions and beliefs, take you to the most amazing sites and, most importantly, interact with the locals! Get ready for a behind-the-scenes tour where we’ll visit hole-in-the-wall restaurants and find the best picarones (Andean doughnuts). I’ll be waiting for you here, in my beloved Peru."
Fernando, general manager
"I like working for Intrepid because their social and environmental philosophy isn’t just a slogan to sell more trips, they really do care about it. I have changed my life in so many aspects due to all the learning coming from Intrepid, from recycling to accepting myself, and being proud for who I am."
"I started working with Intrepid in 2014 and now I'm 61 years old. I'm very happy to be working with Intrepid because each porter's treatment is better than other tour operators in Peru. Because of this job (which includes fair pay), I can provide a better education for my children".
"I come from Huilloc Community in Ollantaytambo town in the Sacred Valley (Cusco), and I started working as a porter on the Inca Trail in 2021. I love walking the Inca Trail and I'm very happy to be working for Intrepid as my income enables me to provide a better education for my 7 children".
"I'm from the Community of Kalla Rayan (Calca town) in the Sacred Valley, and I'm 53 years old. I've worked as a porter for Intrepid since 2009, mainly because I love it and we have very good working conditions. Thanks to my job, I've saved money to spend on my wife and better education for my children".
Life on the rails
To reach Machu Picchu, it’s a two hour journey from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, followed by a 90 minute train ride to the gateway town of Aguas Calientes. Depending on your trip, you will spend the night prior in either Ollantaytambo or Cusco – then rise early to arrive for the 30-minute bus ride taking you to the entrance. Once you’ve arrived at Machu Picchu, your local guide will share the history of the site with plenty of time left to explore at your own pace. Perhaps take the 2-hour return walk up to the Sun Gate or take it all in next to a grazing llama on the terrace. Check out the gallery below to see what the train to Machu Picchu looks like.
Prefer to hike?
If you'd prefer to hike to Machu Picchu, simply let us know at the time of booking whether you'd prefer the Inca Trail or Quarry Trail. We also have a third option to take the Choquequirao Trail.
If you'd prefer not to hike to Machu Picchu, please tell us at the time of booking and we will arrange a train ticket on your behalf. Please check the detailed Essential Trip Information of your chosen tour for more details.
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