So you have your train tickets to Machu Picchu booked, you have your entrance tickets arranged, but all you need to do now is get from Cusco to Ollantaytambo to catch the train. Paul Jones, a Cusco travel expert offers some insider knowledge on the cheap way to get from Cusco to Ollantaytambo.
Booking Your Ticket
If you haven’t yet booked any of your tickets and wish to search options for tours to Machu Picchu right away take a look at this page on FindLocalTrips.com.
THE ONLY PERU GUIDE TRAVEL TIP: Save money and stay safe when going to/from Lima Airport by using the Official Bus service inside the Airport called Airport Express Lima
If you haven’t decided upon train tickets from Poroy Train Station just outside of Cusco, you will probably be taking the train from Ollantaytambo Train Station in the Sacred Valley. This station is a long way from Cusco, about 1 hour and 45 minutes in fact. So how do you get there?
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From Avenida Grau, a 15 minute walk or a 5 minutes taxi ride from Cusco’s main square – Plaza de Armas, shared colectivos leave every 20 – 30 minutes for Ollantaytambo. A colectivo is usually a small bus where the collective passengers share the cost of the journey. There are no scheduled times for collectivos, they simply wait until full before heading off. The journey from Cusco to Ollantaytambo takes around about 1 hour and 45 minutes, and costs 10 – 12 Soles per person. Colectivos range in quality, but typically on this route modern Toyota or Hyundai H1 vans with a capacity of 14 – 16 people are what you can expect. If you have luggage with you, you can either carry it on your lap or have the driver strap it to the roof rack (make sure its strapped on tight).
One company that I have used on a regular basis is Real Inka Tourist Transportation (there are others available). Their fleet of colectivos are modern and comfortable and their drivers are even quite responsible (mine were any way). They also have a small depot at Ollantaytambo, a short 3 minute walk from the train station, so they are perfect for catching the train to Machu Picchu, and also for returning to Cusco after. They do have an official website as you can see from the photo, but in typical Peruvian fashion it has actually expired.
Note that colectivos operate from around 6am until about 6pm. So if you have a really early or really late train departure you might have to travel the day before or find an alternative method of transport.
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Several people travel straight to Cusco forgetting to allow time to acclimatize. For many, the effects of altitude are merely shortness of breath and a mild headache. However, these effects can become a very serious even life threatening issue if ignored. It is essential to plan ahead and prepare for possibility of altitude sickness may have on you when coming to Peru. Particularly those who feel they may be more sensitive to the effects of altitude.
The recommended way to acclimate properly is to ascend gradually spending at least 24 hours at every 2000ft. increase in altitude. If you intend on going from Cusco to Lima we recommend following Peru Hop‘s route to Cusco with stops in some other beautiful Peruvian destinations such as Huacachina, Arequipa and Puno. Most importantly, the route ascends progressively giving you some essential time to acclimatise to the thinner air and prevent any issues when you get to Machu Picchu.