Cheap route to Machu Picchu by Hydroelectric

The cheap route to Machu Picchu goes through the Hydroelectric station in the jungle of Cusco. This route takes about 7 or 8 hours. The first section by bus to the town of Santa María. From there by collective taxi to Hidroeléctrica passing through the town of Santa Teresa. Finally, on foot to Aguas Calientes. This town is only 10 kilometers from the archaeological site of Machu Picchu. The total cost for this one-way trip is $ 15 on average.

Hydroelectric Route to Machu Picchu
Hydroelectric Route – Machu Picchu

How to go to Machu Picchu?

There are three ways to go to Machu Picchu: a) the classic train trip, b) the 4-day Inca Trail and c) the cheap route by Hydroelectric.

The train trip – Route that starts from various stations in Cusco to the town of Aguas Calientes. From there you walk or take a bus to Machu Picchu. The route takes almost 4 hours and costs $ 150 on average.

The Inca Trail – Hiking route that covers 39 kilometers in 4 days. It crosses ancient Inca trails, archaeological sites, mountainous and jungle landscapes until arriving at Machu Picchu through the Intipunku, the Puerta del sol (from the high mountains, just as the Incas did). The cost of the tour costs approximately $ 500.

The route by Hydroelectric – Cheap route that crosses the Hydroelectric station in the jungle of Cusco. Start with a bus trip from Cusco to Santa María (5 hours). Then two consecutive trips by car to Santa Teresa (1 hour) and, from there, to Hidroeléctrica (30 minutes). Finally, there is a walk to Aguas Calientes (2 hours), from where you travel on foot or by bus to Machu Picchu. In total, the route can cost $ 15 and takes a little over 8 hours.

From Cusco to Santa María

The route begins in the city of Cusco where most tourists stay (in this city is the region’s airport).

From the city center, take a taxi or public transport bus to Avenida Antonio Lorena (taxi cost of 2 dollars on average).

At the bus stop on Avenida Antonio Lorena, the buses of the company ‘Ampay’ leave for the city of Quillabamba (ticket cost of 5 dollars on average). However, visitors should stop in the town of Santa María, in the jungle region of Cusco.

The route from Cusco to Santa María takes almost 5 hours (181 kilometers by road). It crosses the landscapes of the Sacred Valley of the Incas such as the town of Urubamba, Ollantaytambo and the Malaga pass until entering the jungle of Cusco.

From Santa María to Santa Teresa

Collective taxis depart from the town of Santa María (shared services with other people). These are located a few steps from the main square of this small town. Take advantage of your short stay in Santa María to get cheap fruit or have lunch.

The next destination is the town of Santa Teresa, located 23 kilometers from Santa María. The trip by jeepney takes approximately 1 hour.

Along the route you can see the majestic Vilcanota River, considered sacred by the Incas. Some tours such as the famous ‘Inca Jungle to Machu Picchu’ do this section on foot.

From Santa Teresa to the Machu Picchu Hydroelectric Station

Cocalmayo thermal baths
Cocalmayo thermal baths – Santa Teresa

The town of Santa Teresa is famous for the thermal baths of Cocalmayo. For many, they are the best thermal baths in all of Cusco. It has up to 3 pools of hot water as well as shower services, bathrooms, sale of drinks, snacks and even a lodging.

In the town of Santa Teresa you should take the opportunity to have lunch (if you didn’t do it in Santa María). Some tourists decide to spend the night in a tourist lodge. So they can enjoy the thermal baths and continue the route the next day.

Collective taxis circulate near the Santa Teresa food market to take you to the next point on the route: the Hydroelectric station.

From Santa Teresa to the Hydroelectric station there are almost 11 kilometers of road (approximately 40 minutes of travel). On the way you will see some tourists who make the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu .

From Hydroelectric to the town of Aguas Calientes

The Hydroelectric station owes its name to the fact that there is a power plant that supplies much of Cusco. From this place a few trains depart to the town of Aguas Calientes located only 10 kilometers away (30 minutes by train).

There are two train services that depart every day from the Hydroelectric station: at 2.20 pm. and at 4.40 pm. The cost is approximately 10 dollars. However, due to the short distance, most tourists prefer to walk.

The walk is a pleasant adventure. The section is surrounded by beautiful landscapes and abundant vegetation. You just have to follow the train rails in a straight line with the Vilcanota river on one side. The walk takes 2 hours on average.

About 2 kilometers before reaching Aguas Calientes you must take a detour. This way you avoid crossing two dangerous tunnels through which the train passes. The rest of the way is on the Hiram Bingham Road.

Once in the town of Aguas Calientes it will probably be getting dark by now. Therefore, it is best to spend the night in a tourist accommodation. This small town is famous for its thermal baths. In addition, it has a variety of hotels, restaurants and tourist bars.

Due to the duration of the route, the visit to Machu Picchu takes place the next day. The route to Machu Picchu by Hydroelectric is 2 days.

From Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu

Aguas Calientes
Machu Picchu Pueblo – Aguas Calientes

Machu Picchu is only 10 kilometers from the town of Aguas Calientes. Due to this proximity, the town is also called ‘Machupicchu town’.

Buses depart in the direction of Machu Picchu from Hermanos Ayar Avenue. The bus ticket costs 12 dollars on average (one way or return). The journey takes 30 minutes.

A few tourists decide to walk the 10 kilometers from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu. Despite the short distance, this route is exhausting as the roads are uphill and difficult. The walk takes 2 hours or even more.

To walk up from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu, it is recommended to leave very early. This way you will arrive on time to the Inca city to visit it without mishap.

A good economic option is to take the bus and return to Aguas Calientes on foot. The way back is downhill and easy to travel. It takes approximately 1 hour 30 minutes.

With tour or on your own?

The route to Machu Picchu by Hydroelectric can be done with or without a tour.

Route with tour – The tours last 2 days and include direct transportation from the city of Cusco to the Hydroelectric station (round trip), accommodation in Aguas Calientes, Food, entrance to Machu Picchu and tour guide service. The prices are cheaper than the 2-day Machu Picchu tours that follow the train route. You can hire a tour with any tourism agency in Cusco.

Route without tour – Carrying out the route to Machu Picchu by Hydroelectric without a tour is definitely the most economical option. However, it requires several sections of public transport: Cusco – Santa María – Santa Teresa – Hidroeléctrica. Most visitors who choose this route without a tour are because they like adventure.

More information

During the months of intense rain (January, February and March) it is not recommended to make the route to Machu Picchu by Hydroelectric. The reason is the huaicos and stone falls that can cause accidents among tourists. The rest of the year, from April to December, the route is much safer.

The Inca Jungle is an adventure tour that follows the route to Machu Picchu by Hidroeléctrica . During the route adventure sports such as cycling, hiking and even canoeing are practiced. This tour lasts 4 days and is preferred by young people who like adventure.


By Machupicchu Terra – Last updated, August 28, 2023

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