Located in the Cusco region, Peru, the road from Santa María to Santa Teresa Cusco is one of the most dangerous routes in the country.
The road is 22.1 km long. This road tests the skill and courage of any driver. It is definitely not for anyone who suffers from vertigo or fear of landslides. Only the suicidal, the insane or those who pay to do this should decrease. It connects the small towns of Santa María and Santa Teresa, near the ruins of Machu Picchu.
The road surface is gravel. There is little room for error on this path. Your wheels will be in awe of the wonderful views of the mountains that stretch out before you! They are terrible for drivers prone to vertigo.
In many places, the road is lined with a drop of hundreds of meters (many hundreds of feet) unprotected by railings over the Urubamba River. The path rises to a height of 2,000m above sea level.
How to get to Machu Picchu through Santa María in Cusco Perú?
Next we will indicate the necessary steps to get to Machu Picchu without using the train or the Inca Trail, through the town of Santa María in Cusco Perú.
There are many ways to get to Machu Picchu, such as the Inca Trail, the 4-day hiking route to the Inca City through the ‘Puerta del Sol (Intipunku)’.
There are also other hiking routes such as Salkantay Trek 5 days / 4 nights or Inca Trail 4 days / 3 nights. These hiking trails reach the Inca city through Aguas Calientes.
Finally, there is another alternative route that goes through the town of Santa María in Peru. This long route leads to Machu Picchu through Aguas Calientes.
Route to Machu Picchu through Santa María in Cusco Perú
The alternative route through Santa María in Cusco Perú lasts approximately 9 hours.
The trip begins in the city of Cusco. There you board the buses that will take you in 5 hours to the town of Santa María, in the jungle of Cusco.
The cost of the bus trip is 25 or 30 Peruvian soles (8 or 10 US dollars).
Buses from Cusco to Santa María in Cusco Perú do not leave from the Cusco land terminal but from a small terminal located on Antonio Lorena Street, near the Historic Center of the city.
Once you are in Santa María in Cusco Peru, you will find dozens of taxi drivers who offer to take you to the city of Santa Teresa. The cost of the trip is 10 Peruvian soles (3 US dollars). The trip takes about 1 hour.
You can choose to go to Santa Teresa to spend the night and enjoy the Cocalmayo Hot Springs. The other option is to have lunch there to continue the trip to Machu Picchu that same day.
In Santa Teresa are the famous thermal baths of Cocalmayo. The trip from Santa Teresa to the hydroelectric station is also done in a jeepney. The trip takes about 30 minutes and will cost you 5 Peruvian soles (2 US dollars).
Once at the hydroelectric station, you can choose to go to Aguas Calientes on foot or by train. Most tourists choose to walk.
At the hydroelectric station you can board one of the trains to Aguas Calientes (45 minute trip). The other option is to walk (2 hours of travel).
Trains leave only 3 times a day: at 2.17 pm / 2.50 pm / 5.10 pm. The ticket can be purchased at the same station. The trip takes 45 minutes on average. It is recommended to organize the trip to arrive on time for the train departure time.
Walking from the hydroelectric station to Aguas Calientes will take between 2 or 3 hours, depending on the pace at which you advance. The route crosses 2 tunnels, so it is recommended to take your precautions.
Aguas Calientes is one of the most cosmopolitan towns you will see in Peru and it is almost entirely dedicated to Machu Picchu. It is full of hostels, restaurants, bars, craft markets, etc.
After spending the night in Aguas Calientes, there is only one last section to get to Machu Picchu. You must choose to get to the Inca City on foot or by bus. Most tourists decide to board the bus.
The bus ride will cost you US $ 24 (round trip). A good economic option is to buy only the ticket for the climb (US $ 12) and walk back to Aguas Calientes.
Walking to Machu Picchu has a moderate difficulty. The path is along the same path and through a hundred stone steps.
This walking trip can last approximately 2 hours. It is not recommended if tourists travel with children, elderly people or visit the Huayna Picchu mountain.
Upon entering Machu Picchu, you will be asked to present your admission ticket with your original passport. If you do not carry your passport, you will not be allowed to enter the Inca City.
Don’t forget to bring sunscreen and a rain poncho. The weather in the Inca City can change from rain to heat in a short time.
You can return to Cusco by taking 2 routes: the train trip through Ollantaytambo or by the alternative route of Hidroeléctrica, the same route that you entered.
The train route is the fastest way to get to and from Machu Picchu. The train ride from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo lasts 2 hours. Then you must board one of the minivan to the City of Cusco (2 hours of travel).
The route through Hidroeléctrica (Santa María) is the longest way to return to the city of Cusco. You must walk (or take a train) to the hydroelectric station. From there, take one of the bus services to Cusco (approximately 6 hours drive).