Whether your ultimate destination is Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo or Urubamba, you need to know how to get to the Sacred Valley. For some, the best option is to take the scenic route; others try to economize, while still others prioritize convenience and efficiency. It all depends on what kind of traveler you are.
Cusco’s Sacred Valley is one of Peru’s most tranquil destinations for travelers. It is also a necessary point of departure for many whose final destination is Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu. However, getting there can be confusing and hectic, and many people don’t understand all of the options available to them. Here’s how to get to the Sacred Valley from the city of Cusco.
For those who aren’t in a huge rush and prefer to take the scenic route, many tour companies in Cusco will be happy to drop you and your luggage at or near your destination in the Sacred Valley. That way you will be able to spend the day visiting many of the archaeological sites and towns that are along the route to Ollantaytambo before arriving at your final destination. This option is perfect for travelers catching the train to Aguas Calientes from Ollantaytambo in the late afternoon, as they won’t pass over many of the other fascinating attractions in the Cusco region while in direct route to Machu Picchu.
Sacred Valley tours can vary in price, so be sure to do price comparisons between a few different tour agencies in Cusco. In addition, you will need to purchase the Boleto Turistico Unico (BTU) at the OFEC office in Cusco, or at the entrance to the first archaeological stop on the tour. The BTU costs S/ 130 (approximately US $42) for foreign visitors or S/ 70 (approximately US $22) for students with a valid ISIC card. The BTU is valid for 10 days from the date of purchase and includes entrance to 16 different attractions in the Sacred Valley and Cusco. Alternatively, it is possible to purchase a partial ticket for S/70 (approximately US $22), which includes entrance to four attractions in the Sacred Valley and is valid for two days.
For those who have a deadline to meet or simply want to make it to their destination in the Sacred Valley as soon as possible, the quickest way is to hire a taxi. When leaving directly from the airport in Cusco, a taxi can cost up to S/ 100 (approximately US $30). When leaving from the city center in Cusco, a taxi may cost between S/ 50 and S/ 80 (between US $15 and $24) to get to Ollantaytambo. When hiring a taxi from the street, you can always haggle or ask multiple drivers until you find the price you want. The drive from Cusco to Ollantaytambo takes about an hour and a half.
The most economical option for getting to the Sacred Valley is to go by collectivo. The collectivos that run between Cusco and Ollantaytambo are typically large vans that accommodate up to 10 passengers. You can catch a ride in a collectivo from Calle Pavitos in Cusco. The collectivo will cost between S/10 and S/15 (between US $3 and $5) per person.
The Sacred Valley is one of the most idyllic and relaxing destinations in Peru, so planning your method of getting there shouldn’t be stressful. Whether you are headed to the train station in Ollantaytambo, Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba in the neighboring town or budget accommodations, there is an option to suit your travel style and get you where you want to go.
Cover image: AmaraPhotos.com
This is an edited version of the article originally written by Nicholle Cardinal, published on February 17, 2017.
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