Before you can bask in the beauty of Machu Picchu, you need to get there first. And that’s where Inca Rail comes in.
Inca Rail: an easy way to reach Machu Picchu
Inca Rail is a luxury train service that takes you from Cusco or Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, the town located at the foot of Machu Picchu. Inca Rail provides a comfortable and scenic journey through the Andes Mountains, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the Peruvian landscape.
Travelling alone to Machu Picchu can be daunting, especially when it comes to planning the logistics of getting there. From transportation to entrance tickets and timings, it can be overwhelming. As a solo traveller, you want an easy and stress-free way to explore Machu Picchu while potentially meeting other travellers. This is where Inca Rail’s all-inclusive package comes in.
I chose to go with the all-inclusive Inca Rail (https://zonasegura.incarail.com/itinerario/seleccionar/?language=en). The 04:20 Cusco > 08:00 Machu Picchu with 9 am entrance to the site. Coming back 14h30 > 18h30 in Cusco.
It was a door-to-door experience, with pick up very early at my hostel with Bimodal Bus + Train. The 30-minute ride from Machu Picchu town to the Citadel. My Machu Picchu Ticket.
Inca Rail all-inclusive review
Inca Rail offers a door-to-door experience with a Bimodal Bus + Train, picking you up early from your hotel/hostel (if you are in the city centre) and taking you to Machu Picchu town and the Citadel. You will have all your tickets in hand, including the Machu Picchu entrance ticket and return bus ticket to the entrance at the top.
What’s good about the all-inclusive package?
For one, it saves you time by eliminating the need to queue for tickets or wait for transport. The timings are well-coordinated, and the staff is friendly and informative.
What was not perfect with the all-included package
However, the package can have its downsides. At the time I did it (February 2023), they had no guide (supposed to have one for a group) so I had to find my own. I didn’t want a private guide, but a group. That annoyed me a bit as a last-minute surprise.
Additionally, there were some discrepancies with my age on tickets (I am 33yo). Noted 34yo on the Machu Picchu ticket and bus tickets 37yo. Those return bus tickets were dated from the day before but it didn’t matter.
Overall, while the all-inclusive package may not be the most economical option, it is convenient and stress-free. It allows you to focus on enjoying the ancient Incan citadel without worrying about transportation or ticket queues.
On the train, they also do a mini show they call “Magic on board”. All I can say is it makes passengers smirk for a bit, haha.
Lastly, don’t forget your passport when visiting Machu Picchu. You’ll need it to enter the site.
Finding a guide in Machu Picchu
As they saw me alone, the guides jumped a bit on me when I arrived in Machu Picchu Pueblo (a bit like taxi drivers outside of airports). The first one told me a private tour cost 60 USD. Hum, no thanks. I wanted a group to pay less and also to have a bit of information without being overloaded chatting and listening at all times.
I asked the Inca rail staff and they told me I can find a guide for cheaper at the site entrance. Before going up with the bus, another guide approached me, saying the same price for S.30 if we have a group or S.150 for a private tour. I joined a group with another guide, she was less insistent than others and the price asked was also 30 soles, which seemed reasonable to me. From one of the famous viewpoints, she took millions of photos for the visitors with an average of 2 photos per second, so I have a few good ones of me in front of Machu Picchu, and just for that, I was happy to tip her at the end. Other visitors won’t be as good as an experienced guide to get the right photos in seconds, haha.
Bathroom: there is no bathroom once you enter the site, but at Machu Picchu entrance it cost 2 soles to pee (bring small change). Or you can go before, at Machu Picchu pueblo or inside the train station.