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There are two ways to get to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes. You can either take a bus or hike. Here is your step-by-step guide to hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes.

Machu Picchu is approximately 5 miles (8 km) from Aguas Calientes.

The elevation difference between Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu is 1,279 feet (389 meters).

Specifically, Machu Picchu is at the elevation of 7,972 feet (2,430 meters) above the sea level compared to Aguas Calientes, which is at the elevation of 6,693 feet (2,040 meters) above the sea level.

The distance is quite manageable, however, it is the elevation change is something you need to think about and make sure you are in good physical condition to do this hike.

In my opinion, hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes is a strenuous endeavor. The hike is steep and pretty much up the hill the entire time.

If you are unsure if you are physically able to complete the hike, or you simply want to save your energy for touring Machu Picchu Inca ruins, then take the bus. It runs every 10-15 minutes from Aguas Calientes and the journey takes about 20-30 minutes.

Intrepid Scout’s Tip:

READ: How to Get to Machu Picchu by Train and Bus 

Following is the picture of the road that the buses take to Machu Picchu. You will be hiking straight up on the eastern side on the mountain.

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes, Peru

This is the road that the buses take to Machu Picchu.

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes 

It will take you about 2-3 hours to complete the hike. You will be hiking along Camino Peatonal Trail.

STEP 1

Locate the Bus Stop Where the Buses Leave for Machu Picchu

Aguas Calientes is a small place and everything evolves pretty much around the train station. It is a busy area with lots of visitors going to or coming back from  Machu Picchu.

Train in Aguas Calientes

The train station is Aguas Calientes is the main hub of the city. 

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes 

So, once you exit the station, cross the bridge that spans Urubamba River.

Next, continue straight and right ahead of you will be the main bus hub for all the buses that transport visitors to and from Machu Picchu.

Aguas Calientes Peru

Once you exit the train station, cross the bridge that spans the Urubamaba River and the bus stop will be right ahead of you. 

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes 

STEP 2

Follow the Road that the Buses Take to Machu Picchu

Next, follow the road that that buses take to get to Machu Picchu.

The road is called Avenida Hermanos Ayar. However, do not look for any signs with the name of the road. I could not find any whatsoever. That is why, it is important that you see where the buses are going and follow their route until you get to the trailhead.

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

Map of the road that the buses going to Machu Picchu take. 

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes 

Next, continue along Avenida Hermanos Ayar for about about 15-20 min.

The road runs along the Urubamba River. On your way, you will come across the sign for Machu Picchu Pueblo. It is a cool place to stop for a second and take a couple of pictures.

Hiking to Machu. Picchu from Aguas Calientes

Stop by the sign of Machu Picchu Pueblo and take a couple of commemorative pictures. 

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes 

Next, you will come across The Butterfly House – Mariposario of Machu Picchu. If you have time, then stop by and learn all about the butterflies. It is a pretty cool place!

One word of advice, be cautious of the buses! Make sure to step aside when you hear the buses are coming. The bus drivers will not slow down even if they see you. And, they drive at reckless speeds!

Also, it is a good idea to have a scarf and tie it around your mouth. It is very dusty and it gets even worse when the buses pass by you.

Eventually, the road will take you to the bridge that spans over the Urubamba River.

Bridge over the Urubamba River on the way to Machu Picchu

Eventuality, the road will take you to a bridge over the Urubamba River

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes 

STEP 3

Cross the Bridge and Turn Right

Next, cross the bridge once you get to it and then, turn right.

By the way, at this point, the buses will be turning left. You will turn right.

Next, continue for no more than 5-10 minutes.

The sign for Camino Peatonal Hiking Trail will be on your left. This is the start of the hike to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes.

Trealhead to Machu Picchu

Trailhead of hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes 

Now, if you. look to your right, there will be a small sign directing you to the museum. It is the Manuel Chavez Ballon Museum (Machu Picchu Museum).

If you have time, then make sure to check out the museum. It is a great place to learn about the process of building Machu Picchu City of the Incas, as well as find out how it was discovered.

Sign pointing to Manuel Chavez Museum

Small sign on the right pointing to a great museum in Aguas Calientes 

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes 

STEP 4

Follow Camino Peatonal Trail Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

Subsequently, stick to the trail and continue up the hill. It will be a grueling climb almost entirely up the hill.

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes is a strenuous hike almost entirely up the hill  

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes 

The trail is fairly well signed and there are plenty of arrows pointing you in the direction of the trail.

However, what you need to know is that he trail intersects with the road that the buses take three times. At these intersections, you will need to follow the road for a bit until you pick up the trail again.

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes is pretty much up the hill the entire way.

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes 

Again, the word of caution about the buses. Make sure to immediately move out of the way if you see or hear a bus coming. The bus drivers have little patience for the hikers. Moreover, If you have a hat or a scarf, wear it! The buses create an incredible dust storm during the dry season.

Once you are on the road that the busses take, be on the lookout for the arrows directing you back to the trail.

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

When hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes, you are going to cross the road that the buses take three times. 

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

Be on the lookout for signs pointing back to the trail when hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes.

The climb is steady and continuously up the hill. And, your knees will be probably taking a toll from the climb.

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

Your knees will be taking quite a toll when hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes 

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes 

The numerous stepping stones will take a toll on your knees!

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

The stepping stones will start taking a toll on your knees when hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

Be prepared for vigorous climbing  when on the trail from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu

Needless to say, after about two hours you will start to get rewarded with some pretty awesome views.

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

After about 2-hour hiking to Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes, you will be rewarded with some incredible views

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes 

As you are hiking, the views will get better and better!

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

The views just get better and better as you are hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes 

Now, I hope you enjoyed your hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes. Another suggestion I have for you is to plan of hiking down from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes. It is so much easier to hike down! And, it should not take you more than a hour to get it down.

Intrepid Scout's Tips for Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

I have seen many people hiking in their flip flops, without any sun protection, and above all with no water.

So, here is reminder to make sure to have the basic hiking gear if you are planning to do some hiking.

  • Appropriate footwear – trail shoes are great; hiking boots are even better since they offer more support.
  • Plenty of water – without enough water your body’s muscles and organs simply cannot perform as well. Consuming too little water will not only make you thirsty, but susceptible to hypothermia and altitude sickness.
  • Food – food will help keep up energy and morale.
  • Rain gear and extra clothing – the weatherman is not always right. Be prepared for unannounced rain or a cold spell. Dress in layers. It will allow you to adjust to changing weather and activity levels. Two rules: avoid cotton (it keeps moisture close to your skin) and always carry a hat.
  • First aid kit – prepackaged first-aid kits for hikers are available at any outfitter.
  • Knife or multi-purpose tool – these enable you to cut strips of cloth into bandages, remove splinters, etc.
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses – especially in the summer time, you will need sunscreen to prevent sunburn.
  • Daypack/backpack – you need something you can carry comfortably and has the features designed to keep you hiking smartly. Don’t forget the rain cover; some packs come with one built-in.
  • Trash Bag – this will make sure that the trail will stay beautiful for generations to come. A zip-lock bag is a great option as well for keeping the trash you pick up along the trail separate from the rest of your gear.

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Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes
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Now, It Is Your Turn, I Would Like to Hear Back from You!

Are you planning your trip to Machu Picchu? Please let me know! Drop me a quick comment right below!

Click on any of the images below to get inspired and to help you with the planning process with your trip to Machu Picchu!

Further Reading:

Machu Picchu – Top Tips for Visiting City of the Incas

17 Unmissable Things to See at Machu Picchu City of the Incas

Comments:

2 thoughts on “Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes, Peru (Step-by-Step Guide)


2021-07-08

I have been reading posts regarding this topic and this post is one of the most interesting and informative one I have read. Thank you for this!

    2021-07-09

    Hi Mike,
    Thank you for such a great comment!
    Anna

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