Most people who visit Machu Picchu tend to go by rail. As the train is the only “public” transport that reaches Aguas Calientes, it is obviously also the most popular.
Since 2009, there are two companies doing the route, since the monopoly imposed by the state for PeruRail ended. Then, in addition to the first company, PeruRail, there is now a second company called Inca Rail that takes trains to Aguas Calientes. The main difference between the two companies is the fact that PeruRail has trains departing from both Poroy and Ollantaytambo station while IncaRail only has departures from the Ollantaytambo station.
In 2010, the INC (Instituto Cultural Nacional Peruano) and the railway company have decided not to use any more trains from the station of Cusco called Estación de San Pedro and operate only from the stations of Poroy and Ollantaytambo .
Poroy is now the closest station to Cusco about 20 minutes by bus from the city center. This used to be the exclusive station for the Hiram Bingham luxury train and is now used for at least one train per day of the three types of trains operated by PeruRail.
The station of Ollantaytambo (also called Ollanta) is a popular station because it is the last town in the Sacred Valley and therefore a good alternative to continue after your excursion to the Sacred Valley of Machu Picchu.
All the trains of both companies that are operated to Machu Picchu stop at this station. The location of Ollantaytambo allows travelers to combine their trip to the Sacred Valley with a visit to Machu Picchu. If you want to take your train from Ollanta, you have two options ; or you can take a train in the afternoon or evening to Aguas Calientes and spend the night there or take a train early in the morning from Ollantaytambo and head straight to Machu Picchu upon your arrival.
As the trip to Aguas Calientes is very beautiful, it is definitely recommended to make the trip at least once during the day . In case you leave Ollanta the same day, there is a possibility that you will not have the opportunity to enjoy this trip, since your return train will be more than likely in the afternoon or evening. Another factor to take into account when choosing trains and stations is the fact that transportation on the highway from Ollantaytambo to Cusco is faster than the train to Poroy . Especially for the return train, which may be late, this may be an interesting fact to consider.
Next, we will try to give you an overview of the different trains operated by each company.
The Expedition train; It is a remodeled train whose wagons have large panoramic windows to fully appreciate the field as it passes. (It is the most economic service of Peru rail) All wagons have air conditioning and heating.
Vistadome train ; This is PeruRail’s very comfortable middle class train. The wagons have large panoramic windows and even windows on the roof of the train that give you the opportunity to enjoy the countryside and take pictures during the tour. Air conditioning and heating. Snacks and drinks are available throughout the trip. The Vistadome train leaves every day from the stations of Poroy and Ollantaytambo.
Hiram Bingham Luxury Train ; This is the most luxurious (and expensive) train to Machu Picchu and is one of the most famous train trips in South America. The train is a Pullman train complete with all the decorations and colored in blue and gold. The wagons are all with warm and cozy interiors that feature an elegant upholstery. The train has capacity for 84 passengers and has four wagons, two dining wagons, an observation wagon with a bar and a kitchen wagon.
Train of the tourist class ; It is the most economical option of IncaRail and offers carriages with 48 seats. The train has panoramic windows with UV protection and comfortable seats with a table in the middle. The tourist class train only leaves the Ollantaytambo station.
The executive train is the top level train of IncaRail. The wagons have a capacity for 50 passengers and are equipped with panoramic windows and comfortable seats with a table in the middle. The executive train only leaves the Ollantaytambo station.
First class train ; This is the IncaRail luxury train. The train has only 30 extra-large plush seats and has even more legroom than the executive train and is equipped with large panoramic windows protected from UV rays.
Inca Rail’s Presidential Service Train is your high-end option and offers maximum luxury. The wagons with only 8 seats make this trip is done with style and personal space for each passenger.