Our 5 hour journey started early in the morning as we boarded a train in Cusco that would take us to the town of Aguas Calientes, which serves Machu Picchu.
Aguas Calientes has only 2 streets – one with the railroad tracks running down the center and the other on which the hotels and restaurants are located.
Ros and I took a bus up to Machu Picchu the morning after our arrival. The switch-backed road runs 2000 feet up to the site which is at 9060 feet above sea level. It’s quite the drive up and my thoughts were “Oh my God” on the realization that we had to come back down the same way.
Ros, on the other hand…
was already scheming to sit in the tour guide’s seat right at the front of the bus beside the bus driver on the way back, as there was no guide on this trip.
Hint: If you’re less inclined to scare yourself silly, be sure to use the restroom before you get on the bus or keep your eyes closed both on the way up and back.
Machu Picchu, which is believed to have been a retreat for the Inca nobility, was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911.
Although we were told that the summit was often obscured by clouds, the day was absolutely spectacular, with beautiful blue skies and small cumulus clouds.
After a short guided tour of the site we were free to wander. We hiked up to the Sun Gate which offered a beautiful view of the village below.
There is a hotel at the summit for the well heeled but we chose a hotel in Aguas Calientes which was very nice and reasonably priced. We wandered both the streets shopping for souvenirs and had dinner at a restaurant beside the Urubamba river.
The next morning we went back up to Machu Picchu and that afternoon took the train back to Cusco. While on the train we saw the hikers on the Inca trail to Machi Picchu.
I have to say it is the most mystical place on the planet that I have visited. I could see myself just sitting and getting lost in my own thoughts.
Machu Picchu is one spot that should be on everyone’s list as a must see designation.