Local train: First class is 15 soles (about $5.40); 2nd class on wooden benches is 13 soles (about $4.70). Buy your tickets the morning before you intend to leave. The train is very crowded; you should get a seat coming from Cusco, but count on standing for the return.
Tourist train: The tourist train offers three classes: Autovagon ($55 return), Pullman ($34), Expreso ($22).
Bus: Another option is to arrange bus transport with one of the many tour groups. Inquire at Raymit Tours on the Plaza de Armas. Cost is 15 soles (same as the tourist train). Bus tours usually begin from Chilca at kilometer 82. Hiking distance is similar to the start from kilometer 88.
Still not slaked that thirst for adventure? HeliCusco offers helicopter flights to and from Machu Picchu through the spectacular Sacred Valley and Urubamba Gorge. Cost is $80 one way; $150 round trip. (HeliCusco, 084- 227-283/243-555).
Not sure of going it alone? Machu Picchu is Cusco's main attraction, and a mind-reeling number of agencies offer tours of the Inca Trail. Standard package tours for four days cost between $50 to $75 (less with student discount) including food, transportation, tents, and porters. You will have to carry a day pack. Quality of the guides and food are determining factors. One recommended company is United Mice (Av. Plateros).
The Inca Trail (including entrance to Machu Picchu) permit costs 44 soles (about $15.75); 22 soles with an ISIC student discount.
You are not allowed to bring large backpacks into Machu Picchu. Bag check at the ruins is 20 cents (1 sole).
At the ruins themselves Machu Picchu Ruinas runs a luxury hotel. (511-211-0826/440-8043; fax 440-6197; San Isidro, Lima). Recommendations strongly recommended.
Lost City of the Incas, Hiram Bingham. New York, 1972. The classic account of Bingham's explorations, including his discovery of Machu Picchu. Great read.
The Conquest of the Incas, John Hemming. London, 1970. A thorough, well-written history. Major contributions to current knowledge and theories.
Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary, Frost & Bartle. Lima, 1995. Gorgeous homage to this UNESCO World Cultural & Natural Treasure. Inspirational photos and text. Great souvenir to remember your visit.
Both Peru: A Travel Survival Kit (Lonely Planet, 1995), and The South America Handbook (Passport Books, 1998) offer recommendations on lodging and food in Cusco.
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