Putting a Price Tag on Beauty

When traveling there are always going to be some activities that cost more than others. Sometimes these activities are worth the extra cost, but other times they leave you with the feeling that you just wasted money that could have been put to better use. So, it is always a smart idea to think ahead and try to figure out all the options that may affect the cost and if that price tag seems worth it.
The activity that I had to think about was visiting Machu Picchu, Since Machu Picchu is one of the highlights of Peru I knew that no matter what I was going to go there. However, since I am watching my money I needed to think about my options that would affect how much it was going to cost me to do it.
There are many different ways that you can get to Machu Picchu. These range from taking the official Inca Trail to guided tours ranging in length or just trying to go some alternative way. There are many different choices, it all depends on the time you have and the money that you want to spend. After looking at all the different options that I could take I decided on a certain way that would meet my budget and went for it.
The first part if my trip to Machu Picchu was taking a van from Cusco to Hidroelectrica which cost 29 USD both ways. The van ride takes about 6 hours, but it all depends on the driver you get and how fast they go. The van stops at a town called Hidroelectrica. It has to stop there because after that there are not any more roads. From there you have two options to get to Machu Picchu town. You can either take a train that costs 27 USD for one way or you can walk along the train tracks. I decided to take the walk, mostly because it seemed like a great way to get some exercise, oh and I did not want to spend that much for less than an hour train ride. The walk is mostly on flat ground and is not hard. The landscape that you walk through is nice and makes it worthwhile. The only downside to the walk is in a couple of places you have to walk on the tracks because there is no room to walk on the sides. However, it is not for long, so it sounds worse than it is.
After 2 hours of walking I made it to Machu Picchu Town. Since it is such a touristy town it is no surprise that many places to stay are more expensive than other parts of Peru. However, it is possible to find a pretty cheap place to stay, which I did. I found a place for 5 USD a night. Most of the budget places to stay are just a few minutes walk up the hill from the bus station and then to the left. These places might not be the best, but after a van ride and a walk I did not need much besides a bed.
It is important to note here that once you get into town you should go buy your entrance ticket for Machu Picchu at the ticket office. The office is right by the tourist information. You cannot buy a ticket at any other place in town. The ticket cost is 23 USD for students with an international student card or 46 USD for anyone who does not have that. The only other decision to make after that point is how to get up to Machu Picchu. There are two ways. One choice is to take a 1 and a half hour walk up to it. The other choice is to pay 19 USD round trip to take a 20 minute bus ride to the sight. I went with the bus option.
The price tag for my Machu Picchu trip (with the cost of a hotel for one night) was 99 USD and the trip lasted two days and one night. I would say that this activity was well worth the money spent by a long shot. Here are a few photos from my walk along the train tracks. (Machu Picchu pictures to come.)

20 responses to “Putting a Price Tag on Beauty

  1. This is SUCH a great post, thank you so much! Even after working as a travel agent, I didn’t think there were really many options other than a guided tour, so it’s really good to know that for a fraction of the cost and a lot more fun I actually could make my own way there – I’d much rather that!!! Those railway track pictures are gorgeous 🙂

  2. Thank you for sharing! I just started my bucket list yesterday, and what a coincidence – Machu Picchu is on it! Definitely pinning this article for future reference. 😀

  3. I love Peru. When I started reading I almost panicked that you were going to pass on Machu Picchu. There is really no place like it — although Ollantaytambo is different it is also worth the visit. There are Andean Bears in the forest near Aguas Calientes so walk fast.

  4. Machu Picchu remains at the top of my Bucket List so your post is of real interest to me – I can’t wait to get there – sooner rather than later! 🙂

  5. Been twice to Mapi. The first time in 1967. Like you, I was on a tight budget then but the train from Cusco was not as expensive – or luxurious. Last year I went with my wife, daughter and 16 y/o grandson. It was nice to do Peru again – this time with more money and family. I notice you use the correct name for the town and not Aguas Calientes 🙂 My WP photo icon is from a slide taken at the sun dial in August 1967. Back then the iconic view was not easy to find – and I didn’t. We spent two days there this time. My daughter and I were there for sunrise and walked to the Sun Gate on day 2. That way we could say that we had “walked the Inca trail” – ha ha. It was a beautiful hike. You are a thoughtful traveler. Nice adventure.

    • That is very cool you have been there two different times. Do you think it has changed a lot from 1967? If so was it better? I am very interested to try and know more about how it was in a different time. It sounds like you had fun doing Sun Gate, I was thinking about doing it but time and money made me not do it.

      • Mapi is much better understood and presented now. Normal humans really need a second day to do the Sun Gate because the first afternoon should be spent getting to know the main site. I’m glad I went back but just to have seen it once is a truly wonderful experience. Though the Inca were “losers” to the conquistadores, we have a new respect for their civilization’s achievements than we had back in the 60’s simply because more is more widely known about Mapi and indigenous peoples in general.

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