When looking for a way to reach Machu Picchu, we found many options of tours and trails that bring right to the famous ruins, from trails like the Salkantay trail to vans leaving from the city of Cusco with whole groups of people to climb their way through. In general, short tours will take you 2 days and one night in Aguas Calientes, a small town on the foot of Machu Picchu mountain.
The problem was, after spending 2 weeks traveling through Peru, we didn’t have much time left to spend in Cusco and as it is such an interesting city, full of things to do, we didn’t want to spend one night in Aguas Calientes. We needed an alternative for this, a tour to bring us from Cusco to Machu Picchu in one day.
So why not try a private tour to Machu Picchu instead?
As Cusco is located in a high altitude, I suggest you to spend some days resting in the city before you taking the tour, in order to avoid the altitude sickness.
If you are planning to visit Cusco, don’t forget to get your free guide here!
Machu Picchu: A Private Tour with Peru Travel Explorer
Peru Travel Explorer is a tour company that offers a variety of tours through the country, covering from the most mainstream destinations like Machu Picchu to not so well known ones like the Humantay lagoon.
The cool thing about them is the fact that they are completely flexible, which is great when you are building your trip and wants to fit something in. In our case, we had only one day to visit Machu Picchu and many companies I was checking didn’t do one day trips, but Peru Travel Explorer offers both group and private tours, we went for the private tour, and the best part of it is that besides the comfort, you can do the trip on you own pace!
What the tour includes:
• Transfer from hotel in Cusco – Ollantaytambo
• Professional guide at Machu Picchu
• Entrance to Machu Picchu
• Return train Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes (SERVICE EXPEDITION)
• Bus up and down: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu
• Transfer Cusco – Ollantaytambo – Cusco
Machu Picchu Tours
From the tours they offer to Machu Picchu, there are private or group ones, from one or two days and for those looking for some adventure, there is also the trail to choose to get to the Machu Picchu, the trails are the Inka Trail and Salkantay Trail. Each option gives you a completely different experience of the trip.
On the way to Ollantaytambo
When it comes to visiting Machu Picchu, you have two options, enter the park in the morning, or in the afternoon. Our ticket was for the afternoon and as our tour was private we had time to enjoy the breakfast. Adrian, our driver, and guide through the road met us at our hotel and drove us all the way to Ollantaytambo, the city where we take the train to Aguas Calientes.
The trip to Ollantaytambo was so comfortable, as it was only me and my mom in the car. This was the first time I ever took a private tour, and I must admit I adored it hahaha all the comfort and flexibility it gives is really relaxing especially at the end of a long trip through a new country!
Adrian speaks both Spanish and Portuguese fluently and also English, so imagine the happiness of my mom when she found out she could finally communicate with someone and the person would actually understand her! I think we gave Adrian’s mind a knot by all the talk and questions we asked him hahaha
On the way, we could see many beautiful landscapes, admire the Puray lake, an important lake for the region, and from a distance we could see the Salineras de Maray. At some points, we stopped at a viewpoint from which we could see the Sacred Valley surrounded by the mountains and the famous Urubamba river, source for life in the region since the Inca Empire.
Arriving in Ollantaytambo, Adrian asked us if we would like to be dropped at the train station of at the main square, as we still had time until our departure, we decided to stay at the main square. Before taking the train we could still wander through the streets of the city, and enjoy our time among the locals, who were having a celebration that day.
Ollantaytambo also has some ruins, you can take this time to visit it, as the ruins are located really close to the main square, however, you need to buy a ticket to do so. The train station is just 15 mins away from the main square, you can easily walk till there or take a tuk-tuk.
The train trip is made with Expedition Service, they offer super comfortable trains with amazing panoramic views where you can see not only around you but also get an amazing view from the mountains thanks to the windows above you.
The service also includes drinks and snacks on board.
Visiting Machu Picchu
Arriving at Aguas Calientes train station, our next guide, Wilson that would guide us through the Machu Picchu, was already waiting for us at the entrance of the station. We took a bus to climb the mountain until the entrance of Machu Picchu park. I must say that Wilson is a really patient person, because the number of questions I asked him would drive most people crazy hahaha luckily, he was as passionate about the Inca history as me! In the end, I left Machu Picchu with no question unanswered!
One of the things we learnt, and that many people might think like us, is that Machu Picchu is actually the name of the mountain which the city was built in, and not the big iconic mountain in front of it, which we see so often in pictures, that mountain instead is called Huayna Picchu, and can also be climbed in a separated tour.
Our way back
I must admit that walking around Machu Picchu, which is a really big area and going up and down the stairs is so tiring, so at the end of the day, you are physically done! Despite all the tiredness we still managed to take the free time we had after leaving Machu Picchu and walk around Aguas Calientes for a bit, before taking our train back.
Arriving back at Ollantaytambo station, Adrian was waiting for us outside to take us to the car. We were SO freaking tired that we came back to Cusco half sleeping half super excited! After bombing Adrian with so much talk in the morning, we were giving him a peaceful time on our way back hahaha
This was the first time I ever took a private tour, and I can assure you that people are right when they say that it’s good to be VIP! You pay a bit more, but it worths every cent, you have more freedom and flexibility in the trip so you don’t need to rush around following your group, also the comfort you get in a private tour is something incomparable.
To be honest, I doubt that in a group tour we would have had time to visit so many things and learn so much on our way to Machu Picchu as we did that day. Another advantage is that you can ask as many questions as you want since you don’t need to be ashamed in front a big group, plus nobody will give you that “someone please shuts that human being up” kind of look. It is also a good chance to get to know a local (the guide) and learn directly from the source.
Privates tours can be more expensive but in my opinion, there are cases where they are a way more attractive option than a group one, especially if you are going to such a historical and cultural rich site, where there is a lot to see and learn, private tours will give you more chance to absorb and enjoy the moment fully.
Disclaimer: We received a discount to this tour, but as always, all opinions are completely my own.