Train from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu

Train from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu [YQrtw Day 107 Jul 25]

Location: Ollantaytambo -> Aguas Calientes, Peru

Finally, it’s the day I take the train to Machu Picchu. Or at least that’s what it says on my train ticket.

In reality, the train to “Machu Picchu” stops at a little town called Aguas Calientes (Hot Waters). This town is deeply hated by travel guidebooks and sites, I’ll talk more about it tomorrow since today it’s all about my train ride.

My train to Machu Picchu starts at the town of Ollantaytambo. I spent two nights there but you can easily access the town from Cusco in not more than 2 hours’ time.

Ollantaytambo train station
Ollantaytambo train station

Ollantaytambo’s train station is at the very end of the road where the two ticket counters are. Along the road, there were stalls selling woollen things and even food.

There was a group of school children who were about to take the train when I was at the station. They were quite prepared as most of them each had a roll of blanket strapped to their bag.

All aboard the Peru Rail train!

The train ticket says everyone needs to be at the station half an hour before the train leaves. They let passengers into the train area well before that.

The guards checked everyone’s ticket with their identification so remember to have your passport in hand.

After the ticket check, I tried getting onto a carriage. The lady in the carriage asked me, “What do you want?” and then “You cannot come in yet. Thank you.” when I told her that I was looking for my seat.

I got out of the carriage with a cheery “You’re welcome!” and stood by the side of the train. At least the view was good.

View of mountains surrounding Ollantaytambo
View of mountains surrounding Ollantaytambo

Soon, the Peru Rail employees started putting out the carriage letters. It was strange since the order was A-C-B. Anyway, I got onto my carriage after the carriage attendant checked my ticket and my passport once more.

Machu Picchu carriages are not in alphabetical order
Machu Picchu carriages are not in alphabetical order

The Expedition carriage is the cheapest ticket for foreigners. The carriage has windows on the roof so passengers can admire the sky and tall mountains and get a bit of sun bathing.

Expedition train to Machu Picchu
Expedition train to Machu Picchu
Seats on Expedition class train to Machu Picchu
Seats on Expedition class train to Machu Picchu
See the sky from your seat
See the sky from your seat
Seat number on Expedition train to Machu Picchu
Seat number on Expedition train to Machu Picchu

My A-1 seat was right next to the window, in front of the food preparation center. The person beside me never came so I had the two seats to myself.

Drink station on Expedition class train
Drink station on Expedition class train

I also checked out the toilet before anyone else came on board. It was the largest train toilet I’ve ever seen. I think it can fit 5 people standing up.

Huge toilet!!
Huge toilet!!

While we were waiting for the train to leave, I looked outside and saw several passengers and a Peru Rail employee on the phone, huddled in a circle. It seems to me that there were problems with the train tickets. One of the passengers had a large backpack with a hiking stick.

I tried to imagine if that was me and that Peru Rail told me that there were problems with my ticket and that I cannot go to Machu Picchu. It felt like yesterday all over again so I stopped imagining.

When the train pulled out of the station, the people-with-ticket-problems did not get on board. I hope they eventually reached Machu Picchu.

Coffee or tea?

About 30 minutes into the journey, we were served one drink and one snack. I got myself a black coffee and a muffin.

One drink and a snack is included in the Expedition train ticket
One drink and a snack is included in the Expedition train ticket

While the Peru Rail employees were serving the drinks, I realized that the guys were a lot taller than the average Peruvians. I really wanted to ask them if height was included in the job requirement, as do flight attendants.

Back to the train ride. The view along the way was great but the sun was so bright that I kept my face hidded next to the wall to avoid sun face.

View from Expedition train to Machu Picchu
View from Expedition train to Machu Picchu
Mountain view (not Google's address)
Mountain view (not Google’s address)
Not the Swiss Alps but beautiful in their own way
Not the Swiss Alps but beautiful in their own way

On the far right of the was a snow-capped mountain, which I found out is called Veronica, while on the right were grass-patched mountains. We even passed the Inca Trail, as a tour guide for the group sitting in front of me announced.

The lady who sat on the seat across mine was Taiwanese. She gave me a lot of information on sights in Peru, allowing me to narrow down what I want to do these last 10 days.

The train ride ended quite soon and we got into the concrete town of Aguas Calientes. My hostel sent someone to pick everyone up which was a good thing since the tiny paths can be quite confusing.

The "ugly" town of Aguas Calientes
The “ugly” town of Aguas Calientes

As promised, I’ll write more about Aguas Calientes tomorrow.

More about Liau Yun Qing

Yun Qing is a writer, improviser and curious person. She loves finding little adventures in life. In 2013, she went on a 130-day round-the-world trip. She wrote a book to help those who also want to go on a career break.

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