Access routes to Machu Picchu are somewhat limited given its remoteness. Travelers cannot take a car or bus to Aguas Calientes (or Machu Picchu Pueblo) – the small town that serves as Machu Picchu’s entrance gate – because there’s not a direct road. Some travelers hike the Inca Trail to the ruins, but most take the train.
Bimodal service is offered during the region’s wet season, generally from November to April, when the section of track between Cusco and the town of Ollantaytambo closes due to higher risk of landslides: at this time travelers who buy PeruRail tickets from Cusco to the station in Aguas Calientes experience a combination of both bus and train transit to Machu Picchu.
The dates for bimodal service to Machu Picchu varies from year to year. For this upcoming rainy season, bimodal transit will be offered from January 2 to May 31, 2014.
Bimodal service details depend on the type of train you take.
Travelers taking the Vistadome and Expedition trains from Cusco meet at the Wanchaq Station located about 5 minutes from the city’s main center and then take a private bus to the Pachar Station in the Sacred Valley. Here passengers make a transfer and continue their journey to Machu Picchu by train.
While bimodal service is offered, the Poroy Station where passengers generally catch their direct train from Cusco to Machu Picchu is closed .
For passengers riding the Vistadome and Expedition trains from Cusco to Machu Picchu.
Wanchaq Station to Pachar Station
About 1 hour and 30 minutes
Pachar Station to Aguas Calientes
About 2 hours
Bimodal service for travelers that take the premium Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu is slightly different. Hiram Bingham passengers also begin their journey at the Wanchaq Station in Cusco, but they make the train service transfer at the Hotel Rio Sagrado instead of the Pachar Station. Then they continue their journey on the Hiram Bingham train to Aguas Calientes.
For passengers riding the Hiram Bingham train from Cusco to Machu Picchu.
Wanchaq Station to Hotel Rio Sagrado
About 1 hour and 45 minutes
Hotel Rio Sagrado to Aguas Calientes
About 2 hours and 15 minutes
Vistadome and Expedition tickets are the same price year-round, whether passengers depart from the Wanchaq Station as part of the bimodal service or leave by train at the Puroy Station.
Some passengers might find the transfer at the Pachar Station en route to Machu Picchu inconvenient and uncomfortable. In this case, avoid the bimodal service altogether and arrange a private transfer to Ollantaytambo from Cusco instead. Your private transfer will deliver you directly to the train station in Ollantaytambo and you can continue your journey by train to Aguas Calientes. After visiting Machu Picdhu, you’ll get off the train in Ollantaytambo and take your private transfer back to Cusco without any hassle.
If the bimodal transfer from bus to train doesn’t bother you, then consider the Hiram Bingham bimodal service option. Unlike the Vistadome and Expedition tickets, the Hiram Bingham bimodal service is less expensive than during other times of the year. Although the train ride is not as long, the amenities offered on the Hiram Bingham train are really nice and it’s a nice opportunity to splurge on luxury at a less expensive rate.
The beautiful scenery en route to Machu Picchu is undeniable no matter how you get there. Consider what option is best for you and enjoy the view!