April 9-11, 2019
The most expensive part of our trip to Machu Picchu was local transportation. In most countries so far, most of our budget went on accommodations and then food, with transportation being in the 3rd place. However, in Peru, we spent more than 36% of our budget on local transportation:
1 – round trip train tickets Ollyantaytambo – Aguas Calientes – Cusco (about 25 miles/40km one way),
2 – round trip bus Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu (about 6 miles/9.5 km one way) and
3 – taxis from the airport and back.
For a bit of a perspective, the round trip train ticket for that (enjoyable) 25 mile ride cost about $140 per person. We paid $150 for 3 days-worth of nice accommodations in Ollaytantambo with great fresh breakfast for all 5 of us. That’s what confused me during the planning process – disproportional price of a short train ride compared to the cost of several days of our accommodations.
We stayed in Aguas Calientes for 2 nights. You can find all sorts of accommodations (from simple and cheap to fancy and expensive) and eat in restaurants at prices equal to Seattle’s or in restaurants for locals at fraction of tourist prices.
Aguas Caleintes is a cute town, full of tourists of course but it’s still nice, nestled in between the mountains. We enjoyed getting fresh fruits and listening to the afternoon rain from our hostel room.
We took the bus up to Machu Picchu even though some people hike up to it (about 6 miles/9.5 km one way). The busses run frequently and are a comfortable and easy option. There is plenty of walking around the ruins that there is really no need to hike up to it (especially not with 3 kids).
It was a trip of a lifetime and I’m beyond grateful to Ginny for talking some sense into Pedja by telling him that our time in South American had to include a stop at Machu Picchu. She was right – it was magical and worth all the extra planning and cost.