Hi, I'm posting this mini trip report on request.
I did not go through a tour. I got quotes on some tours, but as usual, figured out that I could go for twice the time at half the price by doing it myself. It was by far the most complicated trip I've ever organized, though. Would I do it that way again? You bet. We did do some day tours that I booked myself.
We flew into Lima (in our case, from the Galapagos Islands, via Guayaquil, Ecuador). We spent a night at an airport hotel in Lima, because we had 9 or 10 hours before our flight to Cusco in the morning. In Cusco, we had arranged for a driver and a guide to pick us up and take us to the Sacred Valley. (We didn't immediately stay in Cusco, because of the altitude, although we did have altitude medication.) We didn't take the train or other public transportation to the Sacred Valley, because we wanted to make some stops along the way. I booked through cuscotransport.com We had the option of booking a driver only (may or may not speak English) or a driver and a guide. We chose the driver and guide option, and this was great. We went to the Pisac ruins, near Cusco and stopped for a bit at the Pisac market and had lunch nearby. Then we drove to Urubamba, stopping at a couple of scenic points for photos along the way. I had a special reason for wanting to stop in Urubamba. I have a friend who works with a sort of orphanage there, called Ninos del Sol, and I wanted to pop in for a visit. We then went on to Ollantaytambo and visited the ruins there--spectacular! We spent the night in Ollantaytambo, and our little hotel there was a favourite with my husband. I liked it, too. It was in a pedestrianized area (be aware, if you look into this and have a lot of luggage---we travel light), right along one of the Incan canals. Anyway, we stayed at BnB Picaflor Tambo . https://bnbpicaflortambo.com We had to carry our luggage out to the main street where we got a little tuk tuk to take us to the train station.
From Ollantaytambo, we took the Peru Rail Vistadome service to Machu Picchu pueblo. We took the 9:15 train, which got us to the pueblo at around 11:00 a.m. That gave us time to drop off our luggage, have lunch, wander around the town a bit, and then check into our room before catching the bus to the citadel.
New rules at Machu Picchu include timed entry (i.e. you have to choose a window of time in advance), and you are supposed to have an authorized guide if it is your first visit. Nobody really checks the guide thing, but we thought it was a good idea, anyway. We had booked a guide in advance, but he didn't show (or didn't wait for us, as we were about 10 minutes late), so we ending up hiring one of the guides hanging around at the gate who helped us try to locate our prebooked guide. Our new guide was excellent, and, in retrospect, I shouldn't have bothered prebooking this.
You are supposed to have a maximum of 4 hours in the citadel after you enter. Again, there's no real way to enforce this, but as there are no washrooms inside, that's probably enough for most people, anyway. I had booked 2 pm entry for 2 reasons. 1. To ensure we would have time for lunch and to get to the citadel, and 2. To be at Machu Picchu for sunset. (Most people try to be there for sunrise, but it means lining up for the bus ridiculously early, and there's no guarantee the citadel won't be shrouded in clouds/mist/fog at that time of day, anyhow.) Our choice turned out to be a good one. Although it was fairly crowded when we arrived, the crowds thinned out considerably as our time went on. As it got less crowded, the chinchillas came out. :)
It was lovely to sit and watch the lengthening shadows at the end of the day.