The trail follows a stone stepped pathway that leads from the valley floor close to Aguas Calientes to the mountain ridge where the famous citadel of Machu Picchu sits. Following the right hand side of the switchbacks that form the shuttle bus road, this moderately challenging trek is an alternative way to reach Machu Picchu. From Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu the trek takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Trekking down is a more relaxing option!
Finding the Trail Head
From Aguas Calientes follow the shuttle bus road that leaves Aguas Calientes towards Machu Picchu. After approximately 25 – 30 minutes the road takes a sharp left turn over the Vilcanota River, passing a large metal bridge. Directly after the bridge take an immediate right turn down a small lane; the lane leads to the Manuel Chávez Ballón Museum (Machu Picchu Museum). A further 1 minute along the lane you will pick up the trail head to hike from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu. The trail head is clearly marked by a large sign.
From the trail head the path follows a continuous uphill ascent for about 50 – 60 minutes. The path intersects 3 times with the far right hand side of the shuttle bus road as it climbs. At the intersections you may need to follow the road for a few yards to pick up the continuation of the trail. Signs clearly mark the way. Often you will find local women selling snacks and drinks en-route. Watch out for the shuttle busses as they are not always very pedestrian friendly. During the dry season the buses also create a lot of dust which can be unpleasant.
A moderately challenging trek that is suitable for anyone in reasonable physical shape.
Full Trail Difficulty: moderate
Time needed: 1hour 30 minutes up, slightly less coming down (Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu).
Height to climb from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu: 390 meters (1,280 feet).
Terrain: dirt track road, stone stepped pathways and shuttle bus roads.
Recommended footwear: Training shoes, light weight walking boots.
Trail head: Close to Manuel Chávez Ballón Museum (Machu Picchu Museum), just after the bridge crossing the Vilcanota River.
Tickets: Ticket not required; this trail is un-governed.
Best Time to Trek
You can trek from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu all year round. During the wet season (November – April) there is a higher chance of heavy rainfall and the trail and ladders may become slippery and more challenging to traverse. The region has a sub-tropical feel throughout the year with average daily temperatures of 18 °C (64 °F). During the dry season the humidity is around 40 – 45%, rising to 60 – 65% during the wet season. Early morning trekking offers cooler temperatures and better shade from the sun. Make sure that you aren’t trekking when the sun goes down (around 6pm) as it is very dangerous.
The weather in this region of Peru can often be un-predictable any time of the year, so you must be prepared with clothing for rain and sun. A light weight rain coat or poncho and sun protection is advised. Take a bottle of water with you.
- 1 bottle of water.
- Sun hat, sun glasses & sun block.
- Walking stick with rubber tip (if required).
- Strong insect repellent.
- Light weight rain coat or poncho.
(Post Read – 21527)