Useful Information about Machu Picchu

What is Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu is Quechua word that means ‘Old Mountain’. This name was given to it by the discoverers of the ruins in the early 20th century. The founders named the site after the ‘Machu Picchu Mountain’, the ancient summit that towers above the citadel. However, according to many scholars, its original name would have been Llaqta Pata or Patallaqta, meaning ‘high town’ in Quechua. 

Machu Picchu is located in the Eastern Cordillera of southern Peru, in the Urubamba province, 80 kilometres northwest from the city of Cusco. The citadel sits at an altitude of 2,430 m / 7,972 ft, above the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It is accesible by train from Cusco or the Sacred Valley or by one of the many famous hikes to Machu Picchu.

Although it is still uncertain who built the site, it is widely believed by archaeologists and historians, that the Inca Emperor Pachacútec built the citadel during his reign in the years 1438 to 1471. Due to its hidden location in the Andean jungle, the site remained undiscovered by the Spanish conquerors, making it one of the only unspoiled Inca sites left in the region. Infact the citadel was not rediscovered until 1911, when the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham encountered it on an expedition.

By the year 1976, 30% of Machu Picchu had been restored, with much of the restoration work still ongoing. In 1981 Machu Picchu was declared a ‘Historical Sanctuary of Peru’ and has been on the Unesco World Heritage List since 1983. Its most famous title, however, was awarded to it on the July 7, 2007, when Machu Picchu was declared one of the seven wonders of the modern world. The inauguration ceremony was held in Lisbon (Portugal), after one hundred million voters from around the world participated in the vote.

Today Machu Picchu is one of the most famous tourist sites in the world and still holds many mysteries about its history and origin. One thing is certain however, the fascinating site is considered by all to be a masterpiece of Inca engineering and architecture.

How to get to Machu Picchu?

There are several options to get to Machu Picchu:

1. Hiking : There are many trails that lead to the Lost city of the Incas, the most famous being the Inca trail 4 days starting from Kilometre 82 in the community of Piskaqucho. There is also a short Inca trail 2 days starting from kilometre 104 near Chachabamba. Alternatively, visitors can hike the Salkantay trail from Soraypampa.

2. Train : the most popular access route for tourists is to take a train to Aguas Calientes. Trains to Machu Picchu town depart from Cusco, Poroy or Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley.

3. Car : The final option is to travel 6 hours by car from Cusco to Santa Teresa and then on to the town of Hidroelectrica. However, as there are no roads into Aguas Calientes from this point, visitors will then need to walk for 3 hours from Hidroelectrica to the town of Aguas Calientes.

The most recommended route for tourists who do not want to walk and wish to have a more relaxing experience, would be to travel by train along the railway to Aguas Calientes.

Peru Rail and Inca Rail are the two main railway companies that are authorized to offer transportation within the national park and to the town of Aguas Calientes. Each company offers several categories of trains for tourist, the details of which we have provided for you below.

EXPEDITION TRAIN ‘STANDARD CLASS’ :

For those seeking a picturesque journey to Machu Picchu at an unbeatable price, the comfortable Expedition train has just what you need.

The PeruRail Expedition train carriages are infused with designs inspired by the Inca culture, making them the perfect way to start your journey to the citadel of Machu Picchu. Passengers aboard the Expedition train will have the opportunity to enjoy breathtaking scenery and take spectacular souvenir photos as you journey through the Sacred Valley.

Peru Rail’s highly trained staff will assist you for the duration of the trip, providing you with plenty of high-quality food and drinks options from the onboard snack cart.

Departures to the town of Aguas Calientes are scheduled daily, with a variety of times and frequencies to choose from.

VISTADOME TRAIN ‘FIRST CLASS’ :

This train is characterised by its large windows that extend up to the roof, allowing passengers to connect to the environment outside as they observe the passing landscape from multiple angels. There is also a live Andean cultural show throughout the journey, hoping to entertain you through native garments and dancing. The onboard service offers a selection of drinks and snacks inspired by Peruvian flavours.

One way trip: As you sit back and enjoy the journey to Machu Picchu, the onboard background music will relax you into a pleasant and sensory experience. Additionally, passengers will be treated to an explanatory audio dialog, which describes the most relevant places on the route to the citadel.

Return trip: On the return journey from Machu Picchu, passengers will have an immersive experience into the Andean culture through the onboard entertainment. This includes local music and dance, and a fashion show exhibiting an exclusive collection of native clothing. The likes of which are available to buy for those who wish to take a souvenir home with them.

HIRAM BINGHAM TRAIN ‘LUXURY’ :

If you ever dreamed of traveling through the Peruvian Andes on a train inspired by the exclusive Pullman wagons of the twenties, look no further than the Hiram Bingham train. Not only does this train make your dream a reality, but it is guaranteed to turn a magical journey into an unforgettable experience, thanks to its personalized service that takes care of even the smallest detail throughout the journey.

Peru Rail’s world-famous Belmond Hiram Bingham train is arguably the most elegant way to travel to Machu Picchu. From the moment to cast your eyes on this train, you will appreciate its unapparelled elegance and grandeur. It is named after the explorer who rediscovered the ruins of Machu Picchu in 1911. The Belmond Hiram Bingham offers an experience reminiscent of the golden age of the railroad.

Passengers of the exclusive and luxurious Hiram Bingham train will be treated to the sophisticated dining car, the bar car, as well as the observatory car, from where you can enjoy the magnificence of the outdoors. All the while in the company of a Peruvian cocktail and the live onboard entertainment.

The experience will begin with a welcome cocktail followed by a gourmet lunch of Peruvian cuisine. If your ticket is for the return trip, you will also enjoy a gastronomic dinner. In both cases you can accompany your meal with hot and cold drinks as well as an excellent selection of wines. Throughout the journey, you will enjoy the rhythm of Peruvian cajon and tambourines, and a unique live show of typical and international music, promising an unforgettable trip to and from Machu Picchu town.

Departures:

  • The Expedition and Vistadome Train : operates every day from Monday to Sunday.
  • The Hiram Bingham Train : operates only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Train Stations:

  • Poroy station (Cusco)
  • Ollantaytambo station (Sacred Valley)
  • Machu Picchu station (Aguas Calientes town)

Rainy Season:

Between the dates of January 2 and April 30 (the rainy season), trains will only depart from Ollantaytambo train station. During this time, we operate a comprehensive service that combines travel by car and train. The service starts and ends in the city of Cusco and the town of Aguas Calientes.

Our services : Our private transportation will pick you up from your hotel in Cusco and take you on a 2-hour car journey through the Sacred Valley to the train station in Ollantaytambo. From there you will board a train for 1 hour 45 minutes to the town of Aguas Calientes. The return journey will see that you are greeted by your driver at the train station in Ollantaytambo, and transported back to your hotel in Cusco.

Luggage transport:

In each of the 3 aforementioned train services, Expedition, Vistadome and Hiram Bingham, the ticket permits passengers to board the train carrying hand luggage only. The restrictions on luggage are as follows:

  • One backpack or suitcase per passenger
  • Maximum weight of 5 kg or 11 lb
  • Maximum size of 62 inches or 157 cm (height + length + width)

For more information about itineraries, tours or offers, or for more information on what is include or not included, please contact us via WhatsApp on the number +51 995050803 or write to us by email machupicchuviajesperu@gmail.com