1-Day Guide Service to Machu Picchu
As of December 2018, the regulation that requires a guide for entry to Machu Picchu is not being enforced. There are simply not enough guides available. Don't worry about hiring a guide. Just go. There would be an uproar of momentous proportions if people showed up without a guide and were not allowed in. When you check in to your hotel in Cusco or Sacred Valley, you can confirm the status of this rule as I'm sure that eventually they will want to enforce it. But not today or anytime soon.
Machu Picchu entry tickets are valid for one entry only. Whether it's guided or not is immaterial. (click here to get more details)
The cost of a "pick-up" guide found standing at the main entry of Machu Picchu will usually be cheaper than pre-arranging a trained professional guide. Seasoned, trained guides will not be found standing at the entry to Machu Picchu. These guides live in Cusco and they are booked in advance.
The biggest obstacle to entering Machu Picchu is not what you think:
Your biggest obstacle to getting in to Machu Picchu is not the lack of guide service or problems with tickets, it's the shuttle buses. You can expect to wait at least an hour to board the bus in either direction. If you don't mind walking back you could buy 1-way bus ticket up and walk back (about 1 - 2 hours) to Aguas Calientes. It's ridiculous that the Peruvian government went to all the trouble to set up entry tickets that will more than double the number of visitors per day without adding additional shuttle buses to transport those people back and forth between the village and the entry to the citadel. Their stance is that they will not bring in more buses because of the negative environmental impact.
Since the changes to the half day entry tickets on July 1, here's a general idea of how long you might need to wait for shuttle buses regardless of the day of the week. It's possible these times will fluctuate.
Going up from Aguas Calientes to main entry of Machu Picchu:
- Early AM - long lines 1-2 hours / 4:30 - 6:30 am is busiest. From 6:30-7:30 the line is shorter, maybe 45 minutes. Then the train arrives and the line gets long.
- Late AM - short lines less than 30 minutes
- Mid-day - short lines less than 30 minutes
Coming down from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes:
- Mid-day - short lines less than 30 minutes
- Mid afternoon - long lines 1-2 hours
- Late afternoon - short lines less than 30 minutes
TIP: people who buy tickets to hike Huayna Picchu or MP Mountain might want to get the 2nd time slot in order to avoid waiting in the really long lines each morning for the shuttle buses. It is sometimes 2 hours to wait in line during the busy season from May - September.
The regulations state that:
- Visitors with tickets to hike to Huayna Picchu are not required to have guides during the hike.
- Visitors with tickets to hike to Machu Picchu Mountain are not required to have guides during the hike.
Finding Guide Service at Machu Picchu:
- There are local guides standing at the main entry for immediate hire. English skills can vary. Guided tours take 2-3 hours depending on the circuit you choose and your pace. The more groups they guide, the more money they make. Ask how long the tour will take before you agree.
- During the guided tour, re-entry is not allowed. (the only restrooms are located at the main entry and should be visited prior to entering the citadel)
- In the case that there are no guides available, visitors are still permitted to enter. (although new rules state that all visitors must be accompanied by a licensed guide, there are not enough guides available)
Average cost to hire guide at the main entry: (guides will determine their own rates and these are subject to change without notice) Experience and training will vary.
- $60 USD - 1 or 2 people
- $25 USD pp for 3-5 people
- $15 USD pp for group of 10 (maximum group up to 20 people)
Hire an "Adios" professional, licensed, English-speaking guide for your visit to Machu Picchu. Here's what you need to know:
- All groups who book multi-day trips that include a visit to Machu Picchu include the services of our licensed guides.
- Having a great guide can make a difference in having a satisfactory trip and a Great Trip. Our guides are your advocate for solving problems and providing advice. Our guides live in Cusco.
- For 1-day service, the guide will meet you at the train station or your hotel in Aguas Calientes. (midday or afternoon entry is best. There's not enough time to travel from Cusco on the same day as the morning entry)
- Service is subject to availability and is best arranged in advance
- Cost covers guide wages, and travel expenses to and from Cusco
- Guide service beginning from Cusco can be arranged on request
- Other guide services including Cusco Walking City Tour / Cusco Historical Outskirts Tour / Sacred Valley Tour, can be arranged on request
Cost for private Adios guide per group in USD: $212 (up to 5 people)
Please provide the following information to make a reservation in advance:
- Date of service required
- Name of hotel or train arrival information
- Name of group leader, age of each person and number of people in the group
- Contact Adios US Office to make full payment. All major credit cards accepted.