If you are visiting Machu Picchu, then you are probably going to want to buy shuttle bus tickets to get there! This article covers everything you need to know about the buses, including schedules, the route, where to buy tickets, prices and a few tips from us!
Unless you plan on walking to Machu Picchu (which is possible), you are going to need to take a shuttle bus to get there. Machu Picchu is located high up on a mountain top above the Vilcabamba Valley. Consettur is the only official bus company that operates the route, and has a fleet of 22 modern fully air-conditioned and eco-friendly buses.
There is only one road in Aguas Calientes which is mainly used just by the shuttle buses. Departing from the only bus stop on Avenida Hermanos Ayar (the road next to the river) in Aguas Calientes, the route follows the Vilcanota River north-west of Aguas Calientes, before crossing the river and ascending the mountain to Machu Picchu. At this point the shuttle bus follows a series of switch-backs taking approximately 30 minutes to get to the very top. The same route is used for the way down, with busses passing at special extra wide passing spots along the road. The bus terminates at the same bus stop you got on at in Aguas Calientes. The total journey time is just over 30 minutes.
The first shuttle bus departs from Aguas Calientes at 5.30 am, arriving at Machu Picchu just after 6am (which is just after the sunrise). Thereafter, the shuttle buses to Machu Picchu depart when they are full, which for the first few hours of the day is about every 15 minutes. The last bus departs Aguas Calientes at 3.30pm. The first bus departing Machu Picchu (coming back down) leaves at 6am (mainly for those who have spent the night at the Sanctuary Lodge Hotel), with the last bus of the day departing from Machu Picchu at 5.30pm (just before sunset).
Tickets & Where to Buy Them
Shuttle Bus Tickets for Machu Picchu are valid for 3 days from the date of purchase, and can be used at any time during the following 3 days. There are 2 official ticket sales offices; the first is located in Cusco in the district of Wanchaq (20 minute walk from the center), and the second is located in Aguas Calientes right next to the main shuttle bus stop. For most independent travellers to Machu Picchu, it is probably easier to buy your tickets on arrival at Aguas Calientes (perhaps the night before).
Cusco Ticket Sales
Avenida. Infancia 433 Wanchaq
08:00am – 1:00pm & 3:00pm – 5:30pm
Tel: 084 222125 / 084 252959
Aguas Calientes Ticket Sales
Av. Hermanos Ayar S/N
05:00am – 9:30pm
Tel: 084 211134
Ticket Prices (2013)
US$ 18.50 – Foreign Adult Return Ticket
US$ 9.50 – Foreign Adult One Way Ticket
US$ 10.00 – Foreign Child Return Ticket
US$ 5.00 – Foreign Child One Way Ticket
Click here to see the full official price list for 2013 (in Spanish).
Some Insider’s Tips from Us!
- The shuttle bus ride to Machu Picchu is a great scenic journey, but be warned the road is a little bumpy in places, and those that don’t travel well may suffer from travel sickness. The busses rock gently from side to side as they slowly plod over the un-even road, and combined with the switchbacks may cause a few of us to get a little ill. Take motion sickness medication of you are one of those people!
- In Aguas Calientes the queue for boarding the bus and the queue for buying tickets are right next to each other, and during peak times seem to mix together. If you are catching the shuttle bus to Machu Picchu at peak times (5.30am – 10am) it is probably best to buy your tickets in advance, or you might find yourself fighting to get to the ticket counter.
- If you are on a budget or are feeling adventurous, take the shuttle bus to Machu Picchu and hike back. The trail back to Aguas Calientes takes about 1 hour, and is much easier to hike down than up! The trail starts just behind where the shuttle buses depart Machu Picchu.