So night bus arrived to Cuzco at 5 but the driver left us crashing in till six. One of the girls wanted to get to Machu the same way I wanted to try - so we arranged to travel together.
That way is the cheapest way, as far as I know, to get to Aquas Calientes, from where one can hike up to Machu. Its described in guidebook but not so well, but I had that confirmed a night before when I ate trout for dinner in Copacabana by a Canadian traveller.
Now I am sitting in net cafe in Aquas Calientes, so I can confirm it worked out, for cca 33 soles, which equals to 10 USD compared to at least 31 USD for the train. The downside is the time, but, getting to Aquas Calientes in the evening allowes one to hike to Machu early in the morning, which is ideal - whereas the first train arrives at 11.
The route is the following: get to bus terminal to Santa Maria and take bus to Santa MAria (takes cca 6 hrs), from St, Maria to St. Teresa and then "Hydroelectrica" - normally there are taxis and collectivos, we found a tour bus which took us all the way to the electric plant and we also joined the group for meals and entrance as it is nice and economic - good deal! Last part of the route consists of following railroad tracks to Aquas Calientes for some 10kms. (can take train too - more expensive).
I'd say that it is possible to hike from St. Maria, it all takes like 6 hrs, but the route is very scenic, with deep walleys and impressive steep mountains, waterfalls etc. What we covered with the tourbus was again much like the old videogames - abyss one one curb, rock on the other. Two cars difficult to pass.
The hike down railroad tracks is scenic too, we started after four so we finished by dark, there were five of us, three Brazilians, the Mexican girl and me. We met two trains and crossed twqo tunnels, I couldn't help but to think about czech tramps and Wabi Danek in particular:)
tomorrow we start after FOUR in the morning... So I wonder how this Machu Picchu is going to be, but the landscape is certainly promissing!