Travel from Cusco to Ollantaytambo
I have already written a detailed report about our trip to Ecuador.
This series of posts will detail our trip to Peru and ultimately one of the new seven wonders of the world – Machu Picchu.
This post (part 3) will cover how to get from Cusco to Ollantaytambo.
Part 1: Traveling to Machu Picchu: The Basics
Part 2: Planning travel and lodging
Part 3: Travel from Cusco to Ollantaytambo
Part 4: Things to do in Ollantaytambo, Peru
Part 5: Eating in Ollantaytambo, Peru
Part 6: Cycling down a mountain
Part 7: Hiking on an Inca Trail
Part 8: Zip lining and hiking to Aguas Calientes
Part 9: The climb to Machu Picchu
Part 10: How much did our trip to Peru cost?
Unless you want to do a tour from Cusco directly to Machu Picchu, you will probably need to spend a night in the Sacred Valley. The Sacred Valley is incredible in its own way, and if you have time, I suggest you spend a couple days in the Sacred Valley when you do your Machu Picchu adventure.
The two major tourist towns in the Sacred Valley are Urubamba and Ollantaytambo. I prefer Ollantaytambo because has the best transportation options (multiple train options and times) to Machu Picchu, plus I feel there is a lot more to do in Ollataytambo.
Departing Cusco Airport
When we departed the terminal at Cusco airport, we came to an open area after baggage claim and then didn’t know where to go. Don’t worry; there will be no shortage of people asking you where you want to go and offering transportation.
You may get lucky finding transportation to Ollantaytambo as someone will probably offer to drive you there. However, when I asked for transportation directly to Ollantaytambo, one driver quoted me $100 USD and another $80 USD. You can get there much more cheaply by following the advice below.
Getting to Cusco City Center
Taxi is your best (and possibly only) option. You may get offers of 100 Peruvian soles or more. Ask around. I wouldn’t pay more than 40 soles (about $13 USD) to get to Plaza Mayor or other areas in the city center. If you are patient, you will find someone for that price. Locals apparently pay about 10 Peruvian soles, but as a tourist, you probably won’t find anything that cheap.
I would suggest two options. Either way I would be sure to use the bathroom prior to leaving the airport, as you won’t have many bathroom options for the next couple hours.
We took a taxi to Plaza Mayor, wandered around and took pictures, grabbed lunch and a bottled water.
Then we walked to the Pavitos colectivo station to get a ride to Ollantaytambo. It is about an 800 meter walk.
Your other option is to take the taxi straight from the airport to the Pavitos colectivo station.
Getting to Ollantaytambo
At the Pavitos colectivo station, expect to hear numerous people yelling “Ollantaytambo” (or the shorter version “Ollantay”). You will have two options. Expect to pay about 100 Peruvian soles (about $30 USD) for the 2 hour taxi ride. The benfit of this is that you will probably leave right away. You can possibly even find others there willing to split the cost of a taxi.
Your other option is the way most locals travel – via a colectivo. A colectivo is a mini-van that will cost you 10 soles (about $3 USD). The challenge with this option is that the colectivo will wait until it is full. If almost full, it could leave right after you board. If empty it could take a while, but I never waited more than 30 minutes. If you are trying to save money, it’s worth the wait to get a two hour ride for the equivalent of $3 USD.
Expect a scenic but curvy ride through the Peruvian countryside. The scenery is breathtaking at times, but the ride can also be a little rough if you are prone to getting car sick.
Arrival in Ollantaytambo
The taxi or colectivo will drop you off in Plaza Mayor, the center of Ollantaytambo (yellow rectangle in the middle of the map). From there it is a short walk to almost anywhere in town.
Returning to Cusco
To return to Cusco, ask around Plaza Mayor in Ollantaytambo for a taxi. It should cost between 80 and 100 soles. To take a colectivo for 10 soles, I would walk down to the train station to coincide with the arrival of a train. The colectivo will fill up and be on its way to Cusco within a few minutes after the train empties.
Upon arrival in Cusco, the colectivo stops at Plaza San Francisco, less than a five minute downhill walk to Plaza Mayor.
The cheapest way to get from the Cusco airport is to take a taxi for 40 soles to the Pavitos colectivo station and then a colectivo to Ollantaytambo. Total cost is about 50 soles (about $16 USD).
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