The way to get to Macchu Picchu is by "The Expedition Train" from The city of Cuzco This train follows the Urubamaba River along the Urubamamba valley to the small town of "Aguas Calientes".
The information that I had for this tip when I last used the train is no longer applicable.
There apparently now are three different locations that you can catch the train as also there are three different train companies cashing in on the popularity of this amazing site.
Due to recent landslides (or fear of) there has been a change to the schedules to Machu Picchu and to get the latest information see : wwwseat61.com
I have recently looked at this site and it now has recent updates on train travel to Machu Picchu along with timetables and costs..
We bought our Backpacker Cerrojo tickets online at Peru Rail website. We printed the e-tickets which we presented to the conductor when we boarded the train with our passport as ID. The seats are arranged in four, facing each other. We had no problem finding our seats indicated on the tickets. The seats were comfortable and made for easy conversation with the couple seated facing us. The scenery as the train wound its way along the Urubamba River was very picturesque with the mountains looming up above, seeminglyat no end. The trip took an hour-and-a-half both ways from/to Ollantaytambo. On hindsight, we could have started our train trip from Cusco (Poroy) and spent more time at Machu Picchu Village, staying there overnite and taking next day late departure. There was road work being done near and around the main plaza the week we were in Ollantaytambo which did not allow us to walk around the area as much as we would have liked to. Backpacker Cerrojo Train no. 71 Leave Ollantaytambo 05:10 Arrive Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Village) 06:34 cost $31. Backpacker Cerrojo Train no. 84 Leave Machu Picchu Village 18:10 Arrive Ollantaytambo 19:45 cost $31. Compare with Backpacker Train no. 33 leave Cusco (Poroy) 07:42 arrive 10:51 cost: $48; train No. 34 leave Machu Picchu Village 16:43 Arrive Cusco (Poroy) 20:13 cost $48.00. The popular Backpacker train tickets have to be booked way ahead of time to avoid having to buy the more expensive Vistadome tickets. The Backpacker trains are just as comfortable and safe as the more expensive trains. For more questions, it is faster to get a response from Peru Rail by telephone or e-mail.
We loved our train trip. The scenery was great and it's an easy 3 and 1/2 hour trip . The vistadome has big windows all around so you can really have a good view. We made our reservations before we left on the internet and it was all so easy. The price now is $101.00 US return, the first class is $436.00 ( Hiram Bingham ) quite a diffeence in price.
Schedule: Daily departures from San Pedro Station in Cusco for Vistadome 6:00
Here's the web site . http://www.perurail.com/Pages/cusco_mapi1.htm
The way to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco is via train. The only train that leaves Cusco to Machu Picchu is operated by Peru Rail which has offices located in Cusco. They also have a website PeruRail. You can book your tickets ahead of time on the website but you have to pay for your ticket in full at least 24 hours before your intended departure. This requires that you go to the train station in Cusco where it is basically a first come first serve service, so expect to wait at least an hour or more to purchase your tickets. I took the Backpacker train which for $68 roundtrip got me from Cusco to Machu Picchu. The train was quite comfortable but if you are a tall person you may be cramped for space. The seats are soft but they do not recline. There is also a large window to look out of while traveling to the site. There are many great views of the countryside. Also about 3/4 of the way to Machu Picchu, you will stop in Ollantaytambo where many women and children are waiting on the side of the tracks to sell you maize, cheese, trinkets. The maize is just a couple of cents and is a nice snack on your way to Machu Picchu. However if you will be traveling in April, make sure you bring a hat and a sweater while on the train because a lot of people will have the windows open on the train to take pics and it can become quite cold. On the backpacker train, lunch is not served, but a snack tray and a beverage tray come by with items for purchase. The prices are astronomical so make sure if you can, pack before you leave. Also of note is that if you take the backpacker train, you will have to travel through the infamous switchbacks where the train at the beginning and end of the trip goes back and forth multiple times. You feel like you aren't moving when it is doing this. The more expensive trains like the Hiram Bingham train avoids these.
I was trying to find the best way to book my reservations before I left New York for the Machu Picchu Train - Visitadome (don't know if I am spelling it correctly).
I found there were few travel agencies who were willing to get reservations on the train. However they all charge a whooping 20US$ extra on the actual cost of the ticket.
However I found the Peru Rail has a web site and you can send them you dirct request and they will confirm you reservations for the actual price and you can go to the station with your Passport and fairly quickly pick up you ticket.
Note 20US$ is a lot of money in a place like Peru.
As we boarded the train from Ollantaytambo,the odd street seller appeared,with blankets and hats and many other things to sell.Fiona bought a few more finger dolls,to add to her collection she had started in Cusco !!!
The train had a see through roof which certainly helped us see more of this wonderful place.
The staff on the train were very smart,very curteous and most helpful.It was one of the cleanest trains I have ever been on.
Getting to Machu Picchu is not difficult, but you allow yourself time to prepare for the trip. Don't plan to buy train tickets on the day you want to travel. You will have to buy your tickets two or three days in advance. You can buy your tickets in Cusco and take the train from Poroy, which is a quick taxi ride from Cusco. There are three options for trains, we chose the least expensive, the backpacker train. Don't let them name fool you. Its not an uncomfortable or small train. As you can see from my photo the train is comfortable. We bought a round trip same day ticket. It is a long train ride to Machu Picchu, although its not a long distance. The train is slow at times as it crosses over the mountains and will take you over 3 hours to get to Machu Picchu.
To get to Machu Pichu, you can take the twice daily backpacker train from Cusco. Trains depart early in the morning and arrive at Aguas Caliente mid morning. From there, you must take a bus up the mountains to the ruins. The trains leave for the return trip to Cusco at 3:30 and 4:00. At least one hour of the trip is the descent down switchbacks into Cusco. To avoid this, you can get off at Poroy and take a bus back to the city and save about 40 minutes on the trip.
The Backpacker was sold out on the way back, so we took the Vistadome. The Vistadome train offers some ridiculously cheesy entertainment to amuse you on the 5 hour trip. First, one of the porters will perform a traditional dance in which he prances up and down the aisles in a really cool hat and what appears to be a ski mask. Our porter refused to take off the ski mask the whole time, but you could tell it was him. Next, the rest of your cabin crew will put on a fashion show. Yes, a train fashion show, featuring alpaca shawls and sweaters. They will choose the prettier porters to do the fashion show and the poor tubby one will be stuck doing the ski mask dance. The best part of the trip was a lady a few seats in front of us, who got waayy too into the fashion show, like she thought she was at fashion week in Milan or something, complete with encouraging nods, taking notes and enthusiastic clapping.
My friend JP had to go to the bathroom during the fashion show, and scurried down the aisle/runway. The whole train applauded him going down the catwalk.
Opt for the cheeper Backpacker if you can, the experience is not much different, excepting the lack of entertainment.
The Backpacker train is the best value option to get to Aguas Calientes. Experience-wise, there is barely any difference between the Backpacker and the Vistadome. The Vistadome has some higher windows and some cheesy entertainment.
The train will make a couple stops on your way from Cuzco. Often, there will be ladies selling corn at the train stop. Sometimes, they will give you free cheese to go with your corn. This is the best part, as the cheese is so fresh and delicious.
To get the cheapest rates, book a few days in advance. When we went (booking 1 day in advance), the backpacker was sold out on the way back (Inca-Trailers take the train back). We got backpacker tickets on the way there and Vistadome tickets on the way back. The price was somewhere in between the $73 roundtrip for the backpacker and the $113 roundtrip for the Vistadome, but we did not have to pay the full one-way/one-way fare.
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