The famous ruins of Machu Picchu is one place that you just can’t skip while travelling through South America. Cusco seems to be mistakenly taken as a starting point to visit the ruins, but in fact the city is still around 4 hours away from them. There are lots of ways to reach the ruins. The most popular one is probably the Inca trail that leads directly to the Sun Gate. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford that. In order to do the Inca trail you have to pay more than triple the price of the other trails and you also have to book it months in advance. Two very popular trails that can be booked from Cusco are the 5day/4 night Salkantay trail which is supposed to be more beautiful than the actual Inca trail, and a 4day/3night jungle trail that includes all sorts of activities like mountain biking, rafting and zip lining. There is also the 4th, and the easiest way to reach the site, which I’ve decided to do. After doing the Santa Cruz trek in Cordillera Blanca and trekking in Colca Canyon my legs had just had enough. You can simply catch a bus from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, and from there catch a train to Aguas Calientes (tourists pay 35 dollars one way!!!). From Aguas Calientes you follow the trail up to the ruins, it consists of 2000 steps (which in fact feel like 2000000 at 4 in the morning). You can also catch a bus up, but this is another 15 dollars. I guess that’s the price you have to pay to see one of the wonders of the world. I would definitely recommend setting of as early as possible to avoid the crowds and to have as much time as possible to see everything. While buying tickets for Machu Picchu you can also buy tickets to Wayna Picchu – the mountain that overlooks the ruins. It is another 45 minute, and very steep hike, but the views at the top are very rewarding. Do it in advance though, because the number of visitors for Wayna Picchu has been recently decreased to 400 a day!
If you have as much luck as me the whole day might not be enough for visiting the site. When I got to Ollantaytambo my train was delayed by 5 hours, (yet another landslide). I arrived to Aguas Calientes at 2 in the morning and started hiking at 4. That meant no sleep for me. Once I got to the ruins I was exhausted and took a nap on one of the Inca terraces to gain some strenght for climbing Wayna Picchu. Determination kept me going and I saw everything I wanted to see!