Machu Picchu!

Trip Start Aug 17, 2013
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Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Today is the day! We were up at 5:15 to catch our taxi to Poroy train station to board our Peru rail train to Machu Picchu. We got to the station at about 6am and were greeted by stunning views of the snow capped Andes. The train was a 3 and a half hour journey through perfect mountains and really lush jungle to the town of Machu Picchu called aguas calientes (hot waters, as they have hot springs there). There was an option for us to do a 3 day jungle trek or catch the train and due to the fact that I fly to Canada in under a week, it was by far the most practical option.

The train itself was really nice. We got given a nice breakfast and had plenty of time to soak in the scenery. Being on the way to Machu Picchu there are lots of inca ruins on the way that are visible from the train. A bit of a teaser before the main event I guess. The ruins them selves are amazing and even looking at them makes you wonder how these things got built 500 years ago with no technology. The train made one stop in a town called Ollantaytambo which is famous for being the place where the inca trail starts. Our stop was to let the serious hikers off the train and then we continued for about another hour and a half until we got to aguas calientes.

The town is in a massive valley at about 2300masl surrounded by huge mountains (Machu Picchu mountain, and Huayana Picchu included). Once off the train  the only way to get to the town is through a stunning artisan market. We went zooming past the dozens of vendors  in this huge souvenir market which are obviously taking full advantage of their proximity to Machu Picchu.  Good thing we rushed through the market because when we  made it to the bus station to get the bus from aguas calientes to the entrance to Macau Picchu we got caught in a line behind about 150 people... However despite the alarming number of people in front of us the   line was moving extremely fast ...barely even waited 10 minutes. We gave them our tickets, boarded the bus, and climbed to the entrance. The road is deceiving. There are so many other inca ruins on the road up I swore I saw Machu Picchu 3 times before the real one actually came into view.

We got to the entrance, showed our tickets, then I got a stamp in my passport. We had already purchased tickets to climb Machu Picchu mountain which is one of the two you can easily scale. If you imagine the standard photo of Machu Picchu that everyone has seen, Machu Picchu mountain is directly behind where you would stand to take that photo. It takes 3 hours compared to Huayana Picchu's 1.5 but there is more availability (only about 200 spots for Huayana Picchu per day). We talked to some people on the way up who said the summit was super cloudy so we got about 3/4 of the way up to a beautiful lookout of the valley and of course Machu Picchu before we turned around.

We started walking around the city and saw a sign for the inks bridge which I had never heard of. We saw the sign in book and most people had taken 40 Minutes for the return trip, but we had limited time so we had to move quickly. It took us 10 minutes to arrive and the bridge was well worth the short hike. The photos don't do this place justice; how they built this is beyond me. It is literally on the side of a cliff. One slip, you die. No questions. We took some photos then moved back to the main city and walked around.

The construction of Machu Picchu itself is an engineering marvel. It is easy to see why this is a wonder of the world (the second for me on my bucket list quest to visit all 7 (8 if you include the pyramids)). How the incas lugged those rocks up a cliff or where ever they got them from, I dunno but the construction is bomb proof. While we walked around we were met by some alpacas who hang out on the cliffs and eat the grass and took some photos. We walked through the temples there but without a guide or much research they were just a cool bunch of rocks. Please, if you go (and you must), do some research first( It will make the trip far more valuable.

After 5 hours inside it was time to go back to aguas calientes. We were running a little late for our return train so we moved though the town pretty quick but Jenny still had time to buy me a souvenir bottle opener. We got back on the train and were nearly falling asleep but as we had a night bus to puno, we kept ourselves awake. The return train dropped us at Ollantaytambo and not poroy which was inconvenient as it was so far from cusco. Luckily for us, Cruz del sur came to the rescue once again and took us back for 1/10th of the cost of a taxi. The bus ride was one of the most beautiful I've been on with uninterrupted views of about 6 Snow capped mountains.

After 2 hours we arrived back to the hostel in Cusco and said bye to the friends we had made in the last few weeks and made our way to the bus station for our overnight bus to puno. The bus was full cama (bed) as organized with our tour, so we got straight on and went straight to bed.
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