For most travelers, being able to visit Machu Picchu is one of the most outstanding experiences out there. In itself visiting the Andean country without being able to visit Machu Picchu is an incomplete trip, for this reason, the Inca citadel offers many options for touring it. From multi-day tours to some one-day tours. And this is why together with Machu Travel Peru we will focus on those full-day tours carried out in Machu Picchu. Many times one does not have the time available to visit all the attractions that one would like, and we know how difficult it is to fit all of them in a fair time, but thanks to our many years of experience in private trips and personalized tours, we want to tell you all about doing a full day Machu Picchu tour, step by step.
Everything you need to know about the Machu Picchu full-day tour
- Machu Picchu full-day overview
- Detailed Itinerary
- Types of trains
- Bimodal service
- What includes?
- What to bring
- Frequency questions asked
Machu Picchu full day overview
To have a complete panorama of the full-day Machu Picchu, we can realize an overview of this tour with approximate hours because the schedules will depend on what train service you chose, the train station of departure, the entrance schedule to the citadel, among other Machu Picchu reservations.
|05:00 am||Pick up from your hotel in Cusco to the train Station (San Pedro, Wanchaq, Poroy) 01 hour of trip. In the case of Ollantaytambo, 02 hours of trip.|
|06:00 am||Departure from the train station to Aguas Calientes town. In the case of San Pedro, Wanchaq, or Poroy, 03 hours of train trip. In the case of Ollantaytambo, 02 hours of train trip.|
|10:00 am||From Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu by CONSETTUR bus (45 minutes)|
|11:00 am||Tour through Machu Picchu (02 hours and 30 minutes)|
|13:00 pm||Return to Aguas Calientes by CONSETTUR bus (45 minutes)|
|14:00 pm||Approximately 01 hour of free time to take a lunch, use the bathrooms or make shopping in Aguas Calientes.|
|15:00 pm||Train departure from Aguas Calientes to Cusco train stations (since Poroy, Wanchaq, or San Pedro) the train trip lasts 03 hours. In the case of Ollantaytambo, the train trip lasts 02 hours.|
|18:00 pm||Arrive at Cusco train Station and from there transportation to Cusco hotel. 01 hour of trip.|
|19:00 pm||End of tour in your Cusco hotel.|
The following itinerary is elaborated taking into consideration a Machu Picchu day trip from Cusco, having a travel agency as operator, if you want to visit the Inca citadel on your own, please, first get a Machu Picchu map, and just skip the assistance services at each train station and the guided service at Machu Picchu in this itinerary. In the same way, we only consider Machu Picchu full day tours taking the closest train stations like San Pedro, Wanchaq, and Poroy. However, there are full-day tours taking trains from Ollantaytambo (the train station farthest from Cusco. 2 hours of trip from Cusco)
1. From Cusco hotels to train stations
The first thing to take into consideration is that the Machu Picchu full day is an early morning tour. This means that you will have to get up early to be picked up around 03 to 04 am. This is for the time it takes to get to the Inca citadel (around 04 hours covering a distance of 75 km or 47 miles) The transportation will transfer you from your hotel heading to the San Pedro train station (located in the historic center), or to the Wanchaq train station (Located on the periphery of the historic center), or to Poroy train station (located outside of Cusco. To 1 hour from him)
2. Train to Aguas Calientes
Usually, from these stations, the train takes around 3 to 4 hours to reach its destination (due to where is Machu Picchu located, 75 km from Cusco) If you enjoy train trips, we recommend taking the trains from these stations since you will spend more time onboard, enjoying amazing views and landscapes of the Andes and the Peruvian Jungle.
On the other hand, you can take trains from Ollantaytambo (the farthest station from Cusco) if you want to spend as little time as possible onboard since the train trip, from this point, lasts only 2 hours to get to its final destination. But, take into consideration that, previously, you will have had to take transport (minibus, car or minivan) from Cusco. This trip also lasts 2 hours more.
3. From Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu
It doesn’t matter from which station you take the train, the destination station is the same, Aguas Calientes. Once arrived there, at the door of the train station, a assistance personnel will be waiting for you with a sign indicating your name. Immediately, you will cross Aguas Calientes town with the personnel to the buses station, to take a CONSETTUR bus heading to Machu Picchu. (CONSETTUR is a bus monopoly managed by the Machu Picchu municipality). The personnel will dispatch you in one of these buses heading to Machu Picchu, the Bus trip lasts 45 minutes.
4. Tour in Machu Picchu
The bus finishes its route at the same entrance door to Machu Picchu. Once there, you will have to get off the bus and join your group, or your private tour guide (In case you have hired a private tour) Following, the tour through Machu Picchu citadel will begin. The schedule of your Machu Picchu entrance has to be in accordance with your train schedule. For example, if your Machu Picchu ticket says: 12:00 pm, you will have to count back 5 hours from the time of the entry of your ticket. In this case, you will have to choose a train that departs around 7 am from Cusco.
The tour lasts 02 hours and 30 minutes, enough time to visit almost 80% of Machu Picchu, following circuit 2, the most extended.
5. Return to Aguas Calientes
Once finish the tour, the tour guide will dispatch you in another CONSETTUR bus returning to Aguas Calientes, another 45 minute of trip.
6. From Aguas Calientes to Cusco train stations
Generally, in Aguas Calientes, you will have to cross the town and go to the train station to take yours. According to your train schedule, you can have free time to visit the town before going to the station. During this time you can take lunch, go to the bathrooms or buy some handicrafts (we don’t recommend it as you can find better pieces in markets in Pisac and Cusco). The schedules of the train depart vary from 12 pm to 23 pm. And, depending on your train station destination (since Poroy, Wanchaq, San Pedro, and even Ollantaytambo), you can get to these even past midnight.
7. Return to your Cusco hotel
Staff will be waiting for you, with a sign indicating your name, in the waiting room of any train station you arrive at. With him and your transportation, you will go directly to your hotel located in Cusco. In this way, the Machu Picchu day trip from Cusco will have ended.
Types of trains
There are two train companies in Cusco, the oldest and largest is Peru Rail. On the other hand, the new one is called Inca Rail. Both offer service of high-quality onboard for tourists. We will describe them from the most basic service to the most luxurious ones.
A. Peru Rail
All trains of Peru Rail depart from San Pedro, Wanchaq, Poroy, or Ollantaytambo train stations, and are:
- Expedition: Comfortable seats, large windows on each side of the carriages, a small courtesy snack, instrumental music in the background. Depart from Wanchaq, San Pedro, Poroy, and Ollantaytambo train stations.
- Vistadome: The same services as Expedition with the addition of windows on the roofs, the possibility to buy snacks and alpaca fabrics on board, and a Saqra (Devil) traditional dance demonstration. Depart from Wanchaq, San Pedro, Poroy, and Ollantaytambo train stations.
- Hiram Bingham: It is the most exclusive train service of Peru Rail, and it is the recommendable service for those who want to spend an unforgettable honeymoon in Machu Picchu. Its carriages are decorated in the style of the English Pullmans of the 1800s. The train consists of dining tables, a bar area, an observatory area, as well as a small lobby. The service includes a gourmet brunch and dinner, an open bar, live Andean music, and tour guides onboard who will explain to you the different stories that hide the amazing landscapes of Cusco, Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu. Besides CONSETTUR buses to Machu Picchu, round trip, tour guides in the citadel, and entrance fees. Depart from Wanchaq, Poroy, and Ollantaytambo train stations.
B. Inca Rail
All trains of Inca Rail depart only from Ollantaytambo train station (the farthest station from Cusco, 62 km) which has a similar level of train service as Peru Rail. These are:
- 360º train: This is the most basic tourist class service of the train. Each carriage has spacious, comfortable seats, windows on the roof and on each side of the train, and a small welcome snack.
- The Voyager: This train has similar characteristics to the 360º train, with the addition of purchasing snacks and food on board, in addition to some souvenirs.
- The First Class: The train service offers a gourmet menu, comfortable seats, an observatory car, and a bar on board. In the low season (November – April) this service only operates on request.
In these recent years, both companies have been offering the Bimodal service in their itineraries to Machu Picchu. But, what does Bimodal service mean? Well, If before, a tourist did the entire Cusco – Machu Picchu route by train, now he does part of this section by bus (operated by the same train company) and the other half by train. Bimodal means bus + train.
In the case of Peru Rail, the train’s type that operates under this modality will have buses that depart from Wanchaq, San Pedro, or Poroy stations heading to Ollantaytambo, where the passengers will transfer to the train to Machu Picchu.
In the case of Inca Rail, (as all its trains depart from Ollantaytambo), the company offers all their services buses on the route Cusco – Ollantaytambo. Once arrived at the Sacred Valley station, the passenger will take the trains heading to Machu Picchu.
The full day Machu Picchu tour usually includes the following services:
- Complete briefing one night before the tour.
- Personnel assistance at each departure point (hotels, train, bus stations)
- Transportation from your hotel to the train station. Round trip.
- Train service to Aguas Calientes town. Round trip.
- Bus transportation, Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu. Round trip.
- Entrance ticket to Machu Picchu.
- Tour in Machu Picchu (Include tour guide in group or private)
- A buffet lunch in Aguas Calientes.
What to bring?
When you’re planning a trip to Machu Picchu, there are must-haves things that you can’t forget in your backpack, even more, if you are going to do a full day Machu Picchu tour. For this reason, we prepare the following list to help you.
- Original passports (At the entrance of Machu Picchu. You will have to present them to the security guard together with your entrance fee)
- Walking shoes (You will walk over stones)
- Trekking pants.
- Rain jacket.
- Sunblock and insect repellent.
- Sun hut.
- Aluminum water bottle.
Frequency questions asked
1. What visit circuits exist in Machu Picchu?
If you think that your entrance is enough to have Machu Picchu tours in total liberty, you are in error. The Ministry of Culture (the government institution that manages the archaeological park) designed 4 circuits to visit the world wonder. If you chose a circuit, you will have to complete it from beginning to end, without the possibility of going back, or of passing from one circuit to another halfway. These circuits coming attached to your Machu Picchu ticket and are:
- Circuit 1: It allows you to observe the eastern part of the Inca citadel and interesting places like the guardian house (where most of the postcards and photos of Machu Picchu are taken), the viewpoint of the temple of the sun, granite chaos, and the Pisonay square among others.
- Circuit 2: The most complete. The circuit allows one to visit almost 80% of Machu Picchu, passing by agriculture, religious and urban sectors. The most interesting attractions located in the circuit are the viewpoint of the temple of the sun, the square of the temples, the Intihuatana, the sacred rock, twelve bays, the temple of the condor, square of Pisonay among others.
- Circuit 3: Este circuito pasa por la zona baja de Machu Picchu, por el centro-oeste de la ciudadela. Las zonas más interesantes son los Qolqas, la zona agrícola, el conjunto de la casa del Inca, entre otros.
- Circuit 4: It is the second most complete behind circuit 2. This runs through the lower part of the entire citadel of Machu Picchu and offers the possibility of visiting symbolic places such as the ceremonial fountains, the set of water mirrors, and the temple of the condor.
2. How far in advance should I buy my tickets to Machu Picchu?
As you can see, the Machu Picchu citadel was delimited into 4 circuits to have a more orderly and controlled visit and thus reduce the number of visitors who accelerate the erosion of the stones of the complex, and its gradual deterioration. Don’t forget that the Inca citadel accepts only 3,000 visitants per day.
Having all these Machu Picchu facts in consideration, buying your tickets at least 6 months in advance of the visit date is highly recommended. You can buy them here, www.machupicchu.gob.pe
3. At what time should I buy my tickets to Machu Picchu?
The Machu Picchu archaeological park is open from 06:00 am to 05:30 pm. Every entrance comes with a determinate time to enter that goes from 06 am to 03 pm.
Usually, from 06 am to 09 am are the perfect period to visit Machu Picchu, with few crowds of people and almost all the citadel only for you. The disadvantage is that you can not use these tickets. Why? Because, as you will do a full day Machu Picchu from Cusco, the trains depart leave from the Imperial city at 05 am (taking 04 hours of train travel and 01 hours more by bus to the citadel), you will arrive at Machu Picchu from 10 am onwards.
It is more probably that you buy tickets with an entrance time of 10 am to 01 pm. Although you will have a lot of light and a pleasant climate, you will also have more people around.
The period between 01 pm to 03 pm, for some tourists, is another perfect time to visit the citadel. Because there are few people (not like the one from 06 to 09 am), a fresh climate and a perfect sunset for photos and postcards. If you take a full-day Machu Picchu trip, this period would be your perfect choice. However, you will realize that you will return to Cusco later, around 10 or 11 pm.
4. Should I first buy my train tickets or my tickets to Machu Picchu?
Always, you will have to buy, first, your entrance tickets to Machu Picchu. According to the hour indicated on your Machu Picchu tickets, you can buy your train tickets. Remember, if your entrance hour says 10 am, you will have to count 5 hours back, for the departure time of the train that you will have to buy. Take note that no trains depart before 5 am from Cusco.
5. What is the best time to visit Machu Picchu?
The best time to visit Machu Picchu is in the Dry Season (April to November), with few showers of rain, clear skies, more light, and warm weather. Of course, you will have to bear the crowd of people. The rainy season (November to March) is not recommendable for the strong rains, cloud skies, fog, and slippery circuits, however, you will find the citadel with fewer people.
“ALWAYS TAKE THE SCENIC ROAD”
In conclusion, being able to enjoy the Inca citadel is an experience that you should not miss. We hope, together with Machu Travel Peru, to have been of help with everything you need to know about a full day Machu Picchu tour. You will be able to discover with our advisors the many available options that exist to tour the complex. If you want to know more about our different routes, you can consult with our qualified advisors. They will be happy to help you with everything you need to know.
Peru has so much to offer, it can be hard to know where to start. With many years of experience in the tourism sector, Machu Travel Peru is happy to help with anything regarding your trip to Machu Picchu and any tours around it. Make your Machu Picchu experience an unforgettable one!