- Trains arrive to Aguas Calientes Station and from here it is another 30 minutes in bus**
- There is only one bus company providing buses to Machu Picchu**
- Tickets can be purchased in advance or the day itself**
- You can only embark the buses one hour prior to the entrance time stated on your ticket**
- Bus lines work with a first come, first serve system**
- Prices are US$24 per foreign adult for the return ticket**
Let’s say you made it to Lima, flew to Cusco and traveled by train or on foot to Aguas Calientes, now you can embark on the final part of the experience it is getting to Machu Picchu; the bus (unless you feel like a 1.5 hour hike up to Machu Picchu). The buses to Machu Picchu are operated by a company called Consettur and are the only permitted mode of transport allowed on the Hiram Bingham Road that leads to Machu Picchu. The spectacular journey to the entrance of Machu Picchu takes about 30 minutes and leads you slowly up the mountain via 13 hairpin turns ending at the entrance of the Lost City of Machu Picchu. As almost all travelers head up with the buses the lines used to be very long. The buses work with a first come, first serve system but luckily due to the new entrances that allows entrance according a certain time the bus lines have become substantially shorter over the last year.
Tickets for the bus to Machu Picchu can be obtained at the Consettur offices in Aguas Calientes or Cusco or by your travel agent. You can also get these online http://consettur.com/ but there have been complaints about the online booking and payment system. The prices for foreign visitors is US$12 per person one way and US$24 for a two way ticket. Children up to 12 years pay US$7 one way and US$12 for the return ticket. Tickets can be paid for in US Dollars or Soles at the offices and online.
Return buses work with the same system as the buses to Machu Picchu but here the lines can be longer during some (rush) hours. As there is no obliged time, people often tend to spend time at Machu Picchu till a certain time (lunch, dinner, train departures, etc…). Therefore during these times lines can be somewhat longer. Nevertheless, in general the buses come and go fast so waiting time will be manageable. From experience the more busy times for the return buses are; from noon till about 2.00pm and from 4.00pm to 5.30pm, closing time.
The bus stop in Aguas Calientes is located across from the train station. You have to cross the artisan market (this can be a bit of a maze) and a pedestrian bridge over a small river. Under the bridge you will see the buses standing. Do not expect too much as it is more a bus stop than a bus terminal. For those staying at the hotels leaving Aguas Calientes towards Machu Picchu (Tierra Viva, Santuario, Sumaq) it is handy to know that upon return you can ask the driver to stop at the hotel and get off here, saving you the walk back from the bus terminal. Officially it is also possible to arrange buses to collect you from the hotel for the later, not that crowded times but we feel that this is badly coordinated and hardly ever works. Therefore, for the journey to Machu Picchu it is best to use the bus terminal in town.