Machu Picchu - We Finally Made It!

Trip Start Aug 16, 2003
Trip End Apr 21, 2004

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Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

After getting no sleep throughout the night (courtesy of the fact that I was sure that at any moment I was going to be struck down with the first pains of salmonella poisoning) I was extremely relieved when the alarm finally allowed me to get out of bed at 6am. We grabbed a couple of rolls each from the breakfast buffet and headed to the hotel reception to wait for our taxi.

The couple we had met a few days previously at the railway station (Ronnie and his sister Patricia) were already in the taxi when it picked us up. After exchanging pleasantries we quickly got to know our travelling companions and soon came to realise that it was going to be quite a challenge to get a word in edgeways! They were certainly not short for words and Patricia particularly amused us with the unbridled enthusiasm she displayed for the surrounding scenery - which admittedly was gorgeous.

Our accommodating driver, William, was quite happy to pull over and let us take photos at a couple of points on the way. It was a glorious morning and it was beautiful to see the snow peaked mountains rising above a smooth layer of cloud which rested upon pretty, rolling, patchwork fields. As Patricia said, on more than one occasion, it looked like something out of a fairytale!

We arrived at Ollantaytambo with over an hour to spare before the train was due, so Patricia lent me her pass to climb the ruins in the town (she had a bad back) and I took some photos for her. The ruins at Machu Picchu are the final ones in a succession of lesser known Inca ruins which are scattered throughout the 'Sacred Valley'.

The scenery from the train window was equally as stunning as that which we'd viewed from the taxi. So we were quite relieved to meet another lovely couple on the train who took the pressure off us for a while by listening to the consistently enthusing chatter and anecdotes of Patricia and Ronnie.

Almost two hours later, the train ground to a halt a few hundred metres short of the station at Aguas Calientes. As we walked down the remainder of the track, we realised that the landslide had crashed right across the railway and had caused serious damage to much of the station and indeed a number of houses.

After a half hour bus ride, which climbed up into the mountains with the aid of numerous hairpin bends, we arrived at the entrance to the world's most famous Inca ruins. Having agreed to meet Ronnie and Patricia in time to catch the bus back to the train, we set off to explore.

We began by climbing up to the 'Hut of the Caretaker of the Funerary Rock' which gave us a superb view of the ruins spread out before us. With the incredibly steep-sided mountain 'Huayna Picchu' in the background, it was indeed a spectacular scene.

On many occasions throughout this trip, when taking in new sights and viewing various tourist attractions, we've listened to people (mostly Americans) gushing that 'it's AWESOME!' Whilst undoubtedly appreciating the attractions in question, Dan and I have never really felt that they deserved to be described as 'awe inspiring'. However, on this occasion, the sight of the ruins set against one of the most stunning backdrops of towering mountains and plunging valleys I have ever seen was enough to elicit the word 'AWESOME' from my lips!

Before moving on, we both sat for a while, simply taking in the scene. We then spent the next three hours wandering around the ruins and taking far too many photos!

We were kept amused all the way back to Cusco by more tales and stories by the effervescent Ronnie and Patricia. So much so that by the time we were dropped off at our hotel at around 8.30pm we were completely exhausted (and it wasn't necessarily the long journey which had been so draining!).

A few days ago we had been quite disappointed that we weren't going to be able to stay at Aguas Calientes and walk the Inca Trail. Now, however, after seeing how serious the landslide was, we were simply very pleased to be able to get to Machu Picchu at all - it was certainly well worth seeing!

Andrea and Dan
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