Feedback Request: Machu Picchu Itinerary

Feb 5th, 2019, 05:13 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 94
Feedback Request: Machu Picchu Itinerary

Good evening fellow Fodorites

We are planning to visit Machu Picchu in August and have sketched out the following itinerary based upon our online research. Please let us know if there are any "gotchas" or nuances that would make our visit better. Thank you!

Visit Overview:
  • Day 1: Machu Picchu only ticket for 1pm entrance.
  • Day 2: Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu ticket for 6am entrance and 9am hike.
  • Hike Huayna Picchu
  • Hike to Inca Bridge
  • OPTION??? Is it possible to start a hike to Mt Machu Picchu around 1-2pm? Which group or ticket is best to fit within the below Day 1 itinerary?)
DRAFT ITINERARY:

Day 1
  • 7:45am depart Ollantaytambo hotel to Aguas Calientas on PeruRail (should we book the Vistadome train for trip to AC or back from AC?)
  • 9:15 am arrive Aguas Calientas
  • Take 9:30am or 10:00am bus from Aguas Calientas to Machu Picchu (do we need a confirmed entrance ticket and time to board the bus?)
  • Hotel Check-In & Lunch: Belmond Sanctuary Lodge
  • 1-2pm entrance into Machu Picchu
  • Hike to Inka Bridge (optional hike to Mt Machu Picchu)
  • Un-guided Tour Machu Picchu Citadel
  • Leave Machu Picchu upon closing
  • Belmond Sanctuary Lodge & Dinner
Day 2:
  • Breakfast: Belmond Sanctuary Lodge
  • 6-7am entrance into Machu Picchu (depending upon weather and visibility)
  • 9am Hike to Huayna Picchu
  • Lunch & Hotel Check-Out: Belmond Sanctuary Lodge
  • Take 2:00 or 2:30pm bus to Aguas Calientas
  • Depart Aguas Calientas to Cusco on PeruRail Vistadome @ 3:37pm
  • Arrive Cusco @ 5:02pm
  • Cusco Hotel & Dinner
dmiclat is offline  
Feb 5th, 2019, 05:49 PM
  #2  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,226
- Are you asking whether to book your train in advance? I would! What if itís full?

∑ Unless things are very much different when you are there than when I was, I would seriously doubt that you can arrive in Aguas Calientas at 9:15 and catch a bus at 9:30; I think the 10 a.m time is also questionable. You have to get from the train station to the office for bus tickets (not far at all, but its easy to get lost in the market that surrounds the train station). When I was there, the line to buy bus tickets took well over Ĺ hour. Then one changes to the bus boarding line, where waits are the norm.

∑ Buses are (or at least were!) not reserved Ė you need a ticket and then stand in line.

∑ I believe that you can buy your bus ticket only if you have (and show) a confirmed ticket to enter Machu Picchu; your hotel reservation might also work (I didn't stay at the lodge).

∑ Are unguided tours still allowed? I thought they were eliminating that option. Even so, I would very strongly recommend working with a guide Ė and I donít usually like working with guides! I saw and learned a lot that I hadnít found in any printed material.

∑ The line for buses to reach Aguas Calientas from Machu Picchu was over an hour long when I visited. Iím sure your hotel can give you better advice than I can.

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Feb 6th, 2019, 12:25 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,195
A few random observations.
1. It will likely take a lot longer to than 15 - 45 mins to queue for the bus on arrival.
2. I don’t think it matters that much which way you take the Vistadome train. We went vista to AC and Expedition back. IMO the views on the vistadome are not that much better so I would pay more heed to the timings.
3. Unless they have introduced a super express service from AC to Cusco, I think your quoted times for your return trip I.e. 3.37 to 5.02pm are out. I am pretty sure it takes around 3.5 hours for that trip.
4. I think read somewhere that you can now book bus tickets online and although that probably won’t remove the need to queue, at least you won’t have to waste time buying them on arrival.
5. It is a long time since I visited MP but I do remember the queues for buses being horrendous at certain times of the day. Allow for that esp. early morning and late afternoons.

As suggested by KJA above, it may be worth contacting Belmond to find out what there guests usually do and whether they can assist in anyway.

One final thought is that if the train you intend to take back to Cusco does arrive later than you would hope, get the train back to Ollantaymbo. This would have two major benefits:
A) you could then do a taxi tour of the major Sacred Valley sights on your way back to Cusco the next day - our blog provides some details of one of our more recent trips https://accidentalnomads.com/2016/08...sacred-valley/

B) Luggage space on the trains is very limited so you could leave your main bags at the ollantaytambo hotel and pick them up on the way back.
crellston is offline  
Feb 6th, 2019, 04:15 AM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 94
Good morning kja

Thanks so much for the insight re the Aguas Calientas bus transfer process!

Our plan is to purchase all tickets in advance and/or online (all that are possible - PeruRail, MP entrance tickets, etc...). Would appreciate your insight on the following:
  • Is it possible to purchase the Aguas Calientas to Machu Picchu bus transfer tickets online/in advance?
  • Which Machu Picchu entrance ticket and group would we need to allow for a 1pm or 2pm hike to Mt Machu Picchu? We are not sure an early afternoon hike is allowed by the park.
Thank you!
dmiclat is offline  
Feb 6th, 2019, 04:20 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 94
Good morning Crellston

Thank you so much for your insight - especially your tips re: staying in Ollantaytambo for our return from Machu Picchu! Makes a ton of sense!

Any insight on the ability and required ticket group to allow an early afternoon hike (start at 1-2pm) to Mt Machu Picchu and stay in the park until closing?

Much appreciated!
dmiclat is offline  
Feb 6th, 2019, 05:28 PM
  #6  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,226
Originally Posted by dmiclat View Post
Is it possible to purchase the Aguas Calientas to Machu Picchu bus transfer tickets online/in advance?
I don't know the answers to all your questions, but I can say that last May, one could buy one's bus tickets in advance, but only on site -- so I was able to buy round trip bus tickets for both the day I was at the ticket booth and the next day (with proof of my reservations for Machu Picchu itself). I don't know how far in advance one could purchase tickets. There wasn't a way to buy or reserve the bus tickets in advance when I went; things could have changed.

It might be helpful to understand that there is a virtually continuous stream of buses going between AC and MP: The line forms, a bus pulls in, on-site personnel make sure that every seat is filled, the bus heads out, another bus pulls in. I think there is an underlying schedule that would call for buses to start every 5 or 10 minutes, but that schedule gets thrown off whenever one is delayed for whatever reason, and it makes no difference -- the buses pull in, are filled, and pull out. Or at least, that's how it was last May.
kja is offline  
Feb 17th, 2019, 07:34 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Posts: 2
I hope you have a very good experience .... have a lot of fun.
salkantaytrail is offline  
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