Machu Picchu By Car
When I was in Cusco, Peru last spring, I saw signs everywhere. “Machu Picchu by Car! New option!” This was the creative response by some locals to the fact that a season of heavy rain had closed the Inca Trail and destroyed sections of the train tracks that span from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. Let me be clear. You cannot get to Machu Picchu by car.
Rather after a six- or seven-hour harrowing drive from Cusco, you are left 12 kilometers short of Aguas Calientes—the town that sits at the foot of Machu Picchu. You then have a choice. You can take a 45-minute train ride or you can hike to Aguas Calientes where you can take the bus to Machu Picchu. Cars do not go to Machu Picchu.
I’ve heard some people don’t visit Machu Picchu because they think the only way to get there is by hiking the arduous Inca Trail. This is not true. The first time I went to Machu Picchu was with my then 74-year-old dad. We took the train from Ollantaytambo. Even if you are not in top physical condition, you can still enjoy the splendors of Machu Picchu.
And, if you are in top physical condition, you can hike the Inca Trail. This multiday hiking odyssey culminates as you step through the Sun Gate in Machu Picchu. I’ve heard the experience is well worth the effort.
In short, there are only two ways to get to Machu Picchu: take the train or hike the Inca Trail. So, pass on that new option, “Machu Picchu by Car!” if you see it.