The backdoor to Machu Picchu has been well documented elsewhere, but I still got a few things that will save your Sol*. If you haven’t already heard, there are more options then the incredibly expensive/difficult-to-book Inca Trail, or the still pretty expensive train. It involves speaking some Spanish, hiking up some train tracks, and early wake ups, but if you’re traveling South America on the cheap, you’re probably already used to those things. Anyways, good directions on doing the back door are here. Now here’s my tips.
1. Get food at the Mercado de Abastos in Aguas Calientes. You can pick up decent bread and veggies to make delicious sandwiches in the park for a fraction of the kiosks.
2. Bring water purification tablets. These babies saved me tons of money and limited plastic waste on one of the most heavily trafficked areas of all of South America. Even if they seem expensive at the outdoor store, you can expect to pay 5 soles for a half liter of water almost everywhere in the Sacred valley. Plus, you can fill up your bottle and drink from the original Inca fountains in Machu PIcchu.
3. Victory Dinner. After mastering a 5am climb in hanging out in the coolest ruins all day, you probably don’t want to have Ramen Noodles or more avocado sandwiches. Well, what if I told you could go out to eat in Aguas Calientes for 6 soles ($2 US)? And that included a chicken plate and ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT SALAD BAR!! And by salad bar, I mean stewed cauliflower, green beans, beets, and all this other awesome stuff that isn’t even really salad :-0 !! Also you get french fries (always with the french fries, that’s just how Perú does things). On the corner of Chaska Tika and Yahuar Huaca next to Supertramp Hostel.
*the Sol (pronounced “soul”) is the national currency of Perú. haha, right?!