Machu Picchu via Santa Teresa
The back-door route
This is the route that avoids the expensive train tickets from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. You will take this route if you are hiking Salkantay to Machu Picchu. It’s also some of the best hot springs in the region.
This route is mostly used by backpacker and budget travelers and involves taking a colectivo van or shuttle from Cusco to Santa Teresa, a train to a Hydroelectric station, then a cheaper train (or walk the tracks) to Aguas Calientes.
The town of Santa Teresa is very cute and has some lovely hot springs. If you want to take this route to avoid Ollantaytambo, consider spending a night in Santa Teresa and enjoying the hot springs in the evening, then going to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu in the morning.
You can walk to Aguas Calientes (or Machu Picchu) directly from Santa Teresa. From Santa Teresa there is a half hour ride to the train station for the employees of the hydroelectric station. Foreigners are allowed to ride this train, which I was last charged $30 USD for. There is nowhere in Santa Teresa to buy tickets, so the conductor took my ID card as collateral until we got to Aguas Calientes and I went to pay for my train ticket.
Walking the train tracks