Alternate Route to Aguas Calientes
No time to trek or go to the Amazon? If time permits, another option is to take a bus or shared car from Cusco to Santa Maria and from there a taxi to Santa Teresa. (This can also be arranged via private car through an agency). You can overnight here at the EcoQuechua Lodge (www.ecoquechua.com), a fantastic opportunity to spend some real quality time in the cloud jungle. This clean and comfortable eco-lodge offers a little bit of paradise, and a stay includes a gourmet dinner. The staff can also arrange treks, zipline outings, coffee tours, Machu Picchu adventures, and more. From here, a 20-minute taxi ride can take you to the planta hidroeléctrica (hydroelectric plant), from which you can hike an easy, flat, two- to three-hour trail into Aguas Calientes. If you are intrigued by a multiday trek but don’t want to make the time or energy commitment, do the hike into Aguas and book your Machu Picchu entrance to include Huayna Picchu. This way, you will get a good amount of walking in without having to camp.
The Santa Teresa excursion also makes a nice addition for after your Machu Picchu trip, and you can hop on a PeruRail train (usually US$32 but can vary) from Aguas Calientes to the hydroelectric plant if you have had enough of walking. Note, however, that this excursion is not recommended during rainy season, as the roads to Santa Maria and Santa Teresa have sheer drop-offs and can become dangerous.
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