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Driving to Aguas Calientes

Cumbria, United...
7 posts
Driving to Aguas Calientes


We have just booked accomodation in the sacred valley for a week over xmas and we will have our own cars ( 2 of them being 4 wheel drives ). Our party is mixed in age and fitness and although the younger ones would love to do the 4 day hike we simply wont have the time. Is it possible to drive ourselves to Agua Calientes or do you have to get the train? After that some could choose the bus up and some could walk?

I beleive even if we got an early train It is all too much to do in a day ? I was hoping to visit on xmas day to make the day extra special!!

9 replies to this topic
Cumbria, United...
7 posts
1. Re: Driving to Aguas Calientes

Sorry have just looked this up for myself...no roads up there !!!

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
4,002 posts
31 reviews
2. Re: Driving to Aguas Calientes

You are correct, the only way to get to Aguas calientes is by train or long hikes.

Henderson, Nevada
Level Contributor
5,097 posts
135 reviews
3. Re: Driving to Aguas Calientes

Correction to the above, you can drive to Hydroelectrica, but there is no secure parking there, your best bet would be to drive as far as Santa Teresa and park the cars in a garage, then take a taxi to Hydroelectrica. from there you can hike 2 hours or take a shorter and cheaper 20 minute train to Aguas Calientes. The down side of this is that it well take the better part of a day just traveling, for each direction, so you may not have the time to do this.

Edited: 27 October 2017, 13:55
New York City, New...
Level Contributor
4,002 posts
31 reviews
4. Re: Driving to Aguas Calientes

So, yes the only way to get to Aguas calientes is by train or long hikes…

(even if you drive close to 4 hours to Hydroelectrica from the Sacred Valley to take the TRAIN or HIKE from there)

I would not recommend taking the train from Hydroelectric, because you would use 3 full days to visit Machu Picchu this way staying 2 nights in Aguas Calientes.

1 day to get to Aguas Calientes , 1 day to visit Machu Picchu & 1 day to travel back to sacred valley or Cusco city. You could do it in 2 days, but your MP visit would be very rushed.

The train is not so cheap from there either, I think it cost US $62.00 round trip & they only have 2 departures a day.

Amsterdam, The...
Level Contributor
2 posts
6 reviews
5. Re: Driving to Aguas Calientes

We've driven from Cusco to "Machu Pichu" walking the last bit of the trip. Let me share our experience given that we've learned everything we needed by scanning online fora as well.

We rented a basic car from Hertz in Cusco (online booking was way cheaper). If you are looking at options, there is also Europcar down the street, though they felt quite disorganized.

Day 1 we drove from Cusco to Hydroelectrica. It's a long 7 hours drive (with only tiny breaks). But the scenery is absolutely breathtaking! And it's a great experience driving up to 4000 meters only to descent into the jungles below.

You can park your car at the camping grounds in Hydroelectrica. Google around for the information. From Hydroelectrica we walked 2.5 hours to Aqua Calientes.

Beware that the last two hours from Santa Maria to Hydroelectrica is a very dangerous unpaved road (Think Bolivian death road with less traffic). Our basic car was barely up to the task and we surely weren't experienced enough to drive it. But once you start, you can't really turn around.

That said, all the 2 day tour buses to Machu Pichu also drive over this road. And it'll probably be a lot safer to drive yourself than putting your hand in an overworked driver who is going at it a full force with a larger vehicle. If you are going for safety, you better bite the bullet and pay for the expensive train ride from Cusco (ollantaytambo) to Aqua calientes.

The second day we went up to Machu Pichu. We took the train (expensive...) back to Hydroelectrice because it is a bit faster if timed correctly. We drove just past Santa Maria for our hotel.

The last day we drove back to Cusco. The Maras salt mines was a nice 60 minutes detour and you can take a peek at the Ollantaytambo ruines if you want.

The car rental including gas and second driver was only 150 dollars for 3 days. But I think we got an absolute steal. You'll probably pay double that. Combined with the entrance tickets the ordeal cost us 300 dollars vs the 500 dollars a single day with the train would cost.

So if you are feeling up to it, I would highly suggest driving to Machu Pichu from Cusco.

Orlando, Florida
1 post
6. Re: Driving to Aguas Calientes

I am looking/thinking on doing the exact same trip you did. I feel the train ride it’s a rip off to tourists. Can you share the exact route you took to hidroeléctrica? Did you hike from hidroeléctrica to AC vía the train track?

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
4,002 posts
31 reviews
7. Re: Driving to Aguas Calientes

The issue with doing hidroeléctrica route to MP is that if you plan to do it in 2 days it gives you LIMTED time in Machu Picchu. You spend an entire day to get to aguas Calientes. The next day you only have a few hours in MP early morning before having to make your way back to hidroeléctrica (2.5hr hike or $$$ train) to take transportation back to Cusco.

If you dont want to be rushed then hidroeléctrica route is best done with 3 days, but then you will be spending 2 nights hotel in Aguas Calientes.

You can hire direct round trip transportation from Cusco to Hidroelectrica by mini vans for about $30.00. They depart Cusco early morning & then from Hidroelecrica back to Cusco at around 14:30 hrs.

Leeds, United...
Level Contributor
656 posts
52 reviews
8. Re: Driving to Aguas Calientes

The train from Ollantaytambo is surely a tourist rip off but then it is the most effective in terms of time and comfort. Ollantytambo was also a delightful town and my personal favourite

Edited: 29 June 2018, 09:08
Paris, Canada
Level Contributor
7,539 posts
20 reviews
9. Re: Driving to Aguas Calientes

We did not drive but you can indeed take a shuttle from Ollantaytambo (also possible from Cusco) to Hidroelectrica. The shuttle was 80 soles return in 2016. We walked from Hidroelectrica to Aguas Calientes along the railway tracks. Scenic walk that took us 2.5 hours. But I agree that you really need 3 days. So we did spend two nights in Aguas Calientes but our hotel was only 60 soles for a double room.

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