Travelling on a budget means that for me, there are some interesting activities to do or places ‘worth seeing’ that I’m gonna have to miss out on because they are out of my budget. There is also the chance that although these sights or activties come highly recommended, the experience I have after visiting them is so underwhelming I wish I could get a refund. It has sadly happened a couple of times.
Visiting Machu Picchu was the top activity on my to-do list. I couldn’t imagine visiting Peru and not making a stop there. I wanted to book a package trip through a tour operater at home but with prices ranging from £400-1,000, I decided I’d book a package when I arrived in Cusco. I later learned it was a great decision.
There are several routes to Machu Picchu and they vary in length and cost. Based on my time and budget, I had an idea of the kind of tour I wanted the only problem was finding an agency that offered the service I was looking for at a price I could afford.
I got back to my hostel from a day of exploring and found a couple I’d met the week before in Bolivia having dinner in my hostel’s common area. They’d arrived a few hours earlier with plans to do Machu Picchu too and had found a travel agency with a package that cost $85 (£56). It included return transport from Cusco to Hidrolectrica, a night in a basic hotel, an english speaking tour guide as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was convinced! They took us to the agency later on and I ended up paying $70(£45) beacuse I had a valid ISIC (international student identity card) card. Score! Tip: Other travellers are usually really good sources of information. Take your head out of the guidebook and talk to other travellers.
We met up at 7am in front of the travel agency and set out from there in a van. It took about 7hrs to get to the town where the Hidroelectrica is with two stops during the trip for breakfast and lunch. Some of the roads we travelled on were narrow and I just prayed we wouldn’t have any accidents.
Not long after, we came into a stretch of road where another truck was hoping to pass as well. The road couldn’t accomodate two cars moving in opposite directions so our driver had to reverse till he got to a stretch of road where the truck could go past us. To say I was scared would be putting it mildly.
The van stops at Hidroelectrica because you literally run out of roads. From here we walked beside the train tracks for about 2.5hrs to Aguas Calientes, the town closest to Machu Picchu. It was quite an easy walk and you pass really beautiful landscape and waterfalls.
After arrivng at Aguas Calientes, we waited for everyone in the group we travelled with to arrive and then we all went together to pick up our Machu Picchu entrance tickets at the ticket office . Afterwards, we were taken to our hotels and told to return to a meeting point in 30 mins to head out for dinner. It was a budget hotel and half of it was still under construction but out rooms were completely finished and had hot water. That was enough for me.
After dinner, we explored the shopping streets and ended up getting caught in a rainstorm. I hoped it wouldn’t rain the following morning so we could hike up to Machu Picchu. We were advised that if we wanted to hike we had to start by 5.30am so we could meet out tour guide at the entrance by 6.45am. It was raining the following morning and I decided there was no way I was going to do the uphill hike in the dark while it was raining. I swiftly went to the shuttle bus ticket office and queued there till it opened. The shuttle cost $12 one way for the 25 min trip.
Pictures of Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu was as amazing and breathtaking as I’d imagined it to be. The total cost was $82 and the trip lasted two days and one night. It was definitely worth it!