Machu Picchu – one of the great historic sites in the world – is famous due to it’s location and it’s aesthetics. Built high atop the jagged mountains of southwest Peru, Machu Picchu seems like a city frozen in time, the lone survivor of the Spanish conquest. It is inaccessible by car; you get there by foot or by train, and both routes are scenic.
To take the train to Machu Picchu is an adventure on its own. There are 3 stations where you can board your transfer to Machu Picchu: Poroy, Urubamba, or Ollantaytambo. Urubamba and Ollantaytambo are found in the Sacred Valley. Poroy is located about 20 minutes outside of Cusco.
Check in at the train station 30 minutes prior to your departure. Like Machu Picchu, the Ministry of Tourism requires that you present your passport to board the train. The train companies will allow you to bring carry-on sized luggage and store it at the front or back of the train cart. Personal items can be stored right at your seat.
Try to get the window seat because this route features unforgettable views. You’ll start in the midst of the high-Andes near Cusco and by the end of the ride you will be at the base of jagged, jungle-covered mountains known as the cloud forest. Along the way you’ll see 18,000-foot, glacier-covered mountain peaks, jungle communities, Incan terraces/ruins, waterfalls, and the raging Urubamba River. All along the way, a recorded narration explains the different sites gliding past your window.
If the timing is right, you may even see Inca Trail hikers departing on their 4-day journey. Like Hiram Bingham, the man who discovered Machu Picchu after centuries of obscurity, these travelers have decided to rough it on foot. While the train is a lot more comfortable, it is no less exciting and scenic. Trust me, this will be one of your trip highlights.