Hike to Machu Picchu, or Take the Train?

One of the best-known destinations in Peru is Machu Picchu. The ruins and site can be reached either by a hike or taking the train. Unless you’ve planned to hike to Machu Picchu, the only way to reach the ruins is by bus from the town of Aguas Calientes (often referred to simply as Machu Picchu). We know you want to see this, so the question is: how will you get there?

Should You Hike to Machu Picchu, or Take the Train?

If you hike to Machu Picchu, then there are several advantages. There are other, lesser-known ruins along the way up that won’t be able to see these by the train. Trekking through the different landscapes – desert scrub to snowy passes, to cloud jungle- and seeing the natural wonders is one of the main reasons seasoned hikers love the sport. Even for non-hikers, doing a trek in Peru is sometimes a really memorable experience.

If you choose to hike to Machu Picchu, you can arrive at the Sun Gate at dawn and enjoy the sunrise. You will also be able to enter before the buses (from the trains) arrive and the site gets crowded. Travel tip: It is not permitted to hike the Inca Trail on your own. You must travel with a sanctioned tour group or travel agency.

Ride the Train
One of the most important reasons to take the train to the top, versus hiking, is health concerns and potential altitude problems. It generally takes a couple of days to get used to the altitude, and some people can become sick if they don’t take well to it, or haven’t spent time adjusting to the altitude before hiking the trail.

Another consideration for riding the train to Machu Picchu, instead of hiking, is the time constraint. If you only have a few days in your holiday, you might enjoy a shorter train ride versus the longer hike to Machu Picchu. That way, you can enjoy the ruins and scenery and still have time for all of the other excitement Peru has to offer. Travel tip: If you have the extra money, splurge on the luxurious Hiram Bingham Train experience. You’ll ride in world-class luxury, and once at the ruins, have a dedicated tour guide to show you around.

Whichever way you choose to travel, the trip is a once in a lifetime experience. To plan your Peru adventure and to learn more about the hike to Machu Picchu, get in touch with Alpaca Expeditions. Alpaca Expeditions is a Peruvian travel operator with a main office in located in Cusco, Peru, and we are the top-rated tour operators of the Inca Trail.


Our goal at Alpaca Expeditions is to create the best experience for all of our clients. We create journeys that are to be remembered for a lifetime. Journeys you can be proud of and can share with everybody around you.

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