When you think of visiting Machu Picchu, the first image that may come to mind is a group of hikers trekking through the rugged Andean mountains. While hiking is indeed a popular and rewarding way to reach this ancient Incan citadel, it is not the only option. If you’re not up for the physical demands of a multi-day hike or simply prefer a different mode of transportation, fear not! There are several alternative methods to get to Machu Picchu that don’t involve hiking.
Located in the Cusco Region of Peru, Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. It attracts millions of visitors each year who come to marvel at the breathtaking views, incredible stone architecture, and rich history of the Inca civilization.
Whether you have physical limitations, limited time, or simply want to try something different, these alternative methods of reaching Machu Picchu allow you to experience this iconic landmark in a way that suits your preferences. From trains and buses to helicopters and bicycles, there are options to cater to every traveler’s needs.
Each method offers its own unique advantages and considerations, so it’s important to weigh your options carefully based on factors like convenience, cost, time, and personal comfort. So let’s dive into the different methods of getting to Machu Picchu without hiking and discover the alternatives that await!
Method 1: By Train
One of the most popular and convenient ways to reach Machu Picchu is by taking a scenic train ride from Cusco or Ollantaytambo. This method allows you to relax and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Andes Mountains while making your way to the ancient citadel.
The train journey to Machu Picchu typically starts in Cusco or Ollantaytambo, where you’ll board a comfortable train operated by PeruRail or Inca Rail. The train ride takes you through stunning valleys, lush landscapes, and picturesque villages, offering a unique perspective of the Peruvian countryside.
There are different train services available, ranging from budget-friendly options to luxurious and exclusive experiences. The Expedition train, for example, provides a comfortable and affordable option for budget travelers, while the Vistadome train offers panoramic windows for an immersive viewing experience.
If you’re looking for a premium experience, consider the Belmond Hiram Bingham train, which offers a luxury journey complete with gourmet meals, live music, and elegant interiors.
The train ride to Machu Picchu takes approximately 3-4 hours from Cusco and 1-2 hours from Ollantaytambo, depending on the chosen departure point. Once you arrive at the Machu Picchu Pueblo (also known as Aguas Calientes), you can take a bus or hike up to the entrance of Machu Picchu itself.
It’s important to book your train tickets in advance, especially during high tourist season, as they can sell out quickly. Be sure to check the train schedules, choose the departure point that suits your travel plans, and consider any add-ons or upgrades you may desire.
Traveling to Machu Picchu by train not only offers a comfortable and scenic journey, but it also allows you to relax and save your energy for exploring the ancient ruins. If you prefer a more leisurely approach to reaching Machu Picchu, the train is an excellent choice.
Method 2: By Bus
If you prefer a more budget-friendly option or want to immerse yourself in the local culture, traveling to Machu Picchu by bus is a great alternative. This method allows you to experience the scenic beauty of the Peruvian countryside and gives you the flexibility to explore other attractions along the way.
The bus journey to Machu Picchu usually starts from Cusco, where you’ll board a coach or minibus that will take you through the stunning Sacred Valley. This picturesque valley is dotted with charming Andean villages, terraced fields, and archaeological sites, making the bus ride a scenic adventure in itself.
Along the way, you can make stops at various points of interest, such as the Pisac Ruins, the Maras Salt Mines, or the Ollantaytambo archaeological site. These stops offer a chance to explore more of the Inca history and culture before arriving at Machu Picchu.
The bus journey from Cusco to the town of Ollantaytambo takes around two hours, while the ride from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes) is typically an additional hour or two, depending on traffic and road conditions.
Once you reach Machu Picchu Pueblo, you can take a bus or hike up to the entrance of the ancient citadel. The bus ride from Machu Picchu Pueblo to the entrance of Machu Picchu itself takes about 30 minutes and offers magnificent views of the surrounding mountains.
It’s important to note that bus services may vary in terms of comfort and amenities, so it’s advisable to choose a reputable and reliable company for your journey. Additionally, it’s recommended to check the bus schedules, especially during peak tourist season, and plan your visit accordingly.
Traveling to Machu Picchu by bus allows you to have a more flexible itinerary and take your time exploring the Sacred Valley. It’s a cost-effective option that offers a unique cultural experience and the opportunity to discover lesser-known attractions along the way.
Method 3: By Helicopter
If you’re looking for a truly unforgettable and luxurious way to reach Machu Picchu, taking a helicopter is an option that offers both convenience and spectacular aerial views. This method allows you to bypass the lengthy journeys and immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of the Peruvian landscape.
The helicopter ride to Machu Picchu typically departs from Cusco, offering a thrilling and panoramic flight over the Sacred Valley and the Andean mountains. As you soar through the sky, you’ll be able to witness the vastness of the landscape and catch glimpses of ancient ruins and Incan terraces.
The helicopter journey from Cusco to Machu Picchu takes approximately 30 minutes, providing a quick and efficient way to reach the ancient citadel. Upon arrival at Machu Picchu, the helicopter will descend to a designated landing area near the entrance, allowing you to start your exploration immediately.
Traveling to Machu Picchu by helicopter not only saves you time but also grants you a unique perspective of the surrounding area. The aerial views of the citadel nestled amidst the lush green mountains are truly awe-inspiring, providing an unforgettable experience that few get to enjoy.
It’s important to note that helicopter transfers are typically reserved for those who choose to stay at the luxurious Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, located just steps away from the entrance to Machu Picchu. This exclusive accommodation option allows you to combine convenience with indulgence, as you can enjoy the comfort and serenity of staying so close to the ancient ruins.
However, it’s essential to keep in mind that helicopter transfers can be quite expensive and may not be within everyone’s budget. Additionally, availability may be limited, especially during peak tourist season, so it’s advisable to book your helicopter ride well in advance.
Traveling to Machu Picchu by helicopter is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that offers unparalleled convenience and breathtaking views. If you’re looking to add a touch of luxury and adventure to your visit, this method is the perfect choice.
Method 4: By Bicycle
If you’re an adventurous soul who enjoys the thrill of cycling and wants to combine it with a visit to Machu Picchu, traveling by bicycle is an exciting and active option. This method allows you to soak in the scenic beauty of the Andes Mountains while immersing yourself in the stunning landscapes of Peru.
There are several routes you can take to reach Machu Picchu by bicycle, each offering its own challenges and rewards. One popular option is the Inca Jungle Trail, a multi-day journey that combines cycling, hiking, and other activities such as rafting and zip-lining.
The Inca Jungle Trail starts in Cusco and takes you through remote villages, lush tropical forests, and rugged mountainous terrain. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to explore lesser-known archaeological sites and immerse yourself in the local culture.
If you prefer a shorter cycling route, you can choose to ride from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes). This route allows you to experience the beauty of the Sacred Valley while enjoying a more manageable cycling distance.
It’s important to note that cycling to Machu Picchu requires a good level of fitness and endurance. The routes can be physically demanding, with steep uphill climbs and rough terrains. It’s recommended to be prepared with proper cycling gear, including a helmet, comfortable clothing, and a well-maintained bicycle.
Additionally, it’s advisable to join a guided tour or hire a knowledgeable local guide who can provide assistance, navigate the routes, and ensure your safety.
Once you arrive at Machu Picchu Pueblo, you can lock your bicycle and take a bus or hike up to the entrance of Machu Picchu itself. This allows you to experience the satisfaction of reaching the ancient citadel under your own pedal power.
Traveling to Machu Picchu by bicycle not only provides a unique and active adventure but also allows you to connect more closely with the surrounding nature and local communities. It’s an excellent option for those seeking a more immersive and physically rewarding experience.
Method 5: By Horseback Riding
For those who prefer a more traditional and leisurely mode of transportation, traveling to Machu Picchu by horseback is an excellent choice. This method allows you to experience the rugged beauty of the Andean mountains while enjoying the companionship of these majestic animals.
There are various horseback riding routes available that will take you to Machu Picchu. One popular option is the Salkantay Trail, a multi-day trek that combines horseback riding and hiking through breathtaking landscapes and remote villages.
The Salkantay Trail starts from Mollepata and takes you through the stunning Salkantay Pass, offering panoramic views of snow-capped peaks and serene valleys. Along the way, you’ll encounter diverse flora and fauna, rivers, and even hot springs, making the journey even more memorable.
Another option for horseback riding enthusiasts is the Lares Valley trail. This route allows you to travel through picturesque Andean villages, interact with local communities, and witness their traditional way of life.
It’s important to note that horseback riding to Machu Picchu requires a certain level of riding experience and comfort with horses. It’s recommended to be familiar with the basic techniques of horseback riding and to choose a reputable tour operator that provides well-trained and healthy horses.
Guides and horse handlers will accompany you throughout the journey, ensuring your safety and providing local knowledge of the trails and the surrounding area.
Once you reach Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes), you can leave your horses at a designated area and continue on foot to the entrance of Machu Picchu itself. This allows you to fully appreciate the experience of reaching the ancient citadel and explore at your own pace.
Horseback riding to Machu Picchu offers a unique and memorable way to connect with nature and immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the Andean region. It provides a leisurely and authentic experience that allows you to savor the journey as much as the destination.
Method 6: By ATV
If you’re seeking a thrilling and adventurous way to reach Machu Picchu, traveling by all-terrain vehicle (ATV) is an exciting option that combines off-road exploration with the iconic destination. This method allows you to conquer rugged terrains and enjoy the freedom of an adrenaline-pumping ride.
ATV tours to Machu Picchu typically start from either Cusco or Ollantaytambo, where you’ll be provided with a sturdy and powerful ATV to navigate through the challenging trails. These tours are led by experienced guides who will ensure your safety and provide insights into the surrounding landscapes and cultural highlights.
The ATV journey takes you through breathtaking mountainous landscapes, river crossings, and scenic valleys. You’ll have the opportunity to witness the natural beauty of the region up close and personal, immersing yourself in the rugged charm of the Andes.
During the ATV ride, you may also have the chance to visit nearby attractions such as the Maras Salt Mines or the Moray archaeological site, adding extra depth to your adventure.
It’s important to note that ATV tours require a certain level of driving skills and confidence in handling off-road vehicles. Prior experience is recommended, and it’s crucial to follow all safety instructions provided by the tour operators.
Once you arrive at Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes), you can park your ATVs and proceed to the entrance of Machu Picchu either by bus or on foot. This allows you to explore the ancient ruins and soak in the mystical atmosphere of this incredible Incan citadel.
ATV tours to Machu Picchu offer a unique and exhilarating way to experience the journey while adding an extra dose of adventure to your trip. It’s an ideal option for thrill-seekers who want to combine off-road exploration with the awe-inspiring destination of Machu Picchu.
Reaching Machu Picchu is a dream for many travelers, and while hiking is a popular choice, it’s not the only way to experience this incredible UNESCO World Heritage site. Whether you prefer a comfortable train ride, a budget-friendly bus journey, a luxurious helicopter transfer, an active bicycle tour, a leisurely horseback ride, or an exhilarating ATV adventure, there are alternative methods to suit every traveler’s preferences.
Each method offers its own unique advantages and considerations. By train, you can relax and enjoy the scenic views. Taking a bus allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture along the way. A helicopter ride provides a luxurious and breathtaking aerial perspective. Biking allows for an active and immersive experience. Horseback riding combines tradition and nature. And an ATV adventure adds a thrilling and adrenaline-pumping element to your journey.
It’s important to choose the method that aligns with your interests, preferences, and physical abilities. Consider factors such as convenience, cost, time, and level of adventure when deciding on the best way to reach Machu Picchu.
Whichever method you choose, the ultimate goal is to witness the awe-inspiring beauty, rich history, and undeniable mystique of Machu Picchu. Explore the ancient ruins, marvel at the incredible stone architecture, and soak in the breathtaking views of the Andean mountains.
Remember to plan and book your chosen method in advance, taking into consideration the availability and popularity of each option, especially during peak tourist season.
Whether you’re seeking a thrilling adventure, a scenic journey, a cultural immersion, or a combination of all three, these alternative methods to reach Machu Picchu without hiking offer a range of options to suit every traveler. So, embark on your chosen method, and get ready for an unforgettable experience of a lifetime at the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu.