Reader Questions: How To Travel Solo To Machu Picchu

PeterWestCarey-Peru2011-1128-1135Jen writes:

Hi Peter,

I’m planning of traveling solo to Macchu Picchu this coming April for the first time . I’m looking up places to get a permit and group tour to help me climb up the Inca Trail. Is there a suggested tour guide/group (for the trail) that you recommend and any safe and cheap places I can stay at? I’m not quite sure how to even get to Macchu Picchu (heard that one can fly to Cuzco and then get a train?) I’m debating of making this a 1 week or 2 week trip depending on your recommendations.

Thanks in advance!

Jen

Jen,

I would suggest using Andean Treks as a reputable company to work with for arranging a trek down the Inca Trail. They are who I used on my trek and I picked them out by semi-random search. The price was right and they were easy to work with at the last minute. The crew and guides were great and earnestly interested in helping us have a good time in a safe manner.

As for a place to stay, I stayed in a couple and some were cheap. The first was Hotel San Blas (which is not that cheap, but you might be able to find a deal) . I think the other one was Hotel Chincana Wasi – La Casa Escondida  which might be closer to cheap ($30 a night or so).

As for getting to Machu Picchu, there are two way: walk or train. The train can be picked up in Cusco. As a matter of fact, here’s a great post on everything you need to know about getting there yourself.  And yes, LAN offers regular flights to Cusco from Lima (http://www.lan.com).

As for the amount of time, if you’re trekking I’d give yourself a few days in Lima (landing on day one, tour Lima and shake off jet-lag on day two then fly to Cusco on day three). Relax the day you arrive in Cusco and spend another day exploring and getting used to the surroundings. It’s a fun place and comfortable. On day five jump on the train if that’s what you are doing, or start your trek. If trekking I would suggest the 5 day version from Andrean Treks. You can do it in 4 days but this lessens your time at Machu Picchu. With the 5 day version you can see more along the trail and get a better appreciation for the history and organization of the civilization.

  • Day 1 – Arrive Lima
  • Day 2 – Day in Lima
  • Day 3 – Fly to Cusco
  • Day 4 – Tour Cusco
  • Day 5 – Train to Aquas Calientes (or start trek)
  • Day 6 – Explore Machu Picchu and train back to Cusco
  • Day 7 – Fly to Lima and home

If not trekking, you can see Machu Picchu bright and early on day six. You’ll spend the whole day there and can catch a 3pm train back to Cusco. Day seven can see you flying back to Lima and home, if you want to crunch it all into a week. Realistically I would suggest a bit more than a week to enjoy it. If you’re active, there are things to do in Cusco, such as mountain biking and rafting.  While the itinerary above makes it possible to make it in a week, I’d highly suggest 10-14 days at a minimum to explore and do it all at a relaxed pace.

Lastly, I would suggest grabbing a copy of the Solo Traveler’s Handbook if you this is one of your first trips by yourself. There is also a short description of doing this trip solo on that site as well.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have more questions.

pwc

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