Visiting World Wonder Machu Picchu
Last week we discovered the area around Cusco. From there we travelled on to Aguas Calientes where Machu Picchu is located. Wondering if that’s not so bad? You can read it here!
Unique train journey to Machu Picchu
Finally, it was time to head for Machu Picchu. This wonder of the world has been on our bucket list for so long that we could hardly wait to go there. Honestly, the trip to Machu Picchu is quite a hassle. You think you’re in Cusco, but nothing could be further from the truth.
First you have to take the bus or taxi from Cusco to the train station of Ollantaytambo. This is an hour and a half’s drive from Cusco. Then take the train (Incarail) towards Aguas Calientes, the village near Machu Picchu. This will take an hour and 40 minutes. You can then go from Aguas Calientes on foot towards Machu Picchu but this is a steep climb of several hours. You can also choose to take the bus. It’ll take you to the top of the mountain in 25 minutes. That’s the option we chose. So if you put it all together, you should definitely have something to do with visiting Machu Picchu. The unique train journey from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes is one to remember. It’s a unique experience in itself.
We stayed in Aguas Calientes for three days and we noticed it on the first day that the weather was holding us back. Throughout our stay it has rained. Sometimes violent and then a little less but really dry it has never been. So did the day we visited Machu Picchu. We got up at five in the morning and heard the clatter of the rain against the window. Not the best medicine for a good mood. Yet we didn’t let it get to our hearts and, completely covered in rain poncho, prepared for the day. At the bus stop there were already many people waiting in the pouring rain, but we were not allowed on the bus until half past seven to walk in at the archaeological site at seven o’clock. You can buy the tickets in advance and choose the day and the hour you want to go. You may stay on the site for up to four hours, but actually there’s no one checking it out.
Mistbanks in Machu Picchu
High up in the mountains is Machu Picchu and when we reached the top for a crazy view -we thought – the sky literally fell down. Misty clouds covered the entire landscape and we couldn’t look beyond a few meters. I can still vividly remember the deeply disappointing feeling. Did we get this far before this? And what’s more, have we known so much misery –the altitude sickness of the first week– and wasted money on this?
When we said those words, the fog banks started to move and the visibility became slightly cloudy and a few moments later even more clearly. Only then did we see the beauty of this place. A sunny visit to Machu Picchu is like winning the lottery. We’ve heard that from a lot of people, and it’s true. We then decided to wait, in the pouring rain, until the visibility got better. You must have something for it! The clouds followed each other at a rapid pace but occasionally we were lucky and saw the magnificent scene of Machu Picchu. Magic!
The Surreal View of Machu Picchu
The few moments when it stopped raining, we made the most of taking pictures and walking through the landscape. There’s no point in seeing a place like this before. The steep green mountains reminded us a bit of those in Asia. But Machu Picchu himself is nothing to compare with. It’s a surreal sight. And the fog that made it all the more mysterious. So we certainly still enjoyed this place. Soon we will list all the pros and cons for you and we will make the costs so that you can plan a visit to Machu Picchu yourself or not and you know exactly what awaits you.
Back to Cusco
After our three days in Aguas Calientes we headed back towards Cusco. You don’t really have any other choice. You take the train back to Ollantaytambo and from there you go back to Cusco. As soon as we got off the train we felt that our breathing was different again. We thought we’d be used to the altitude by now, but nothing could be further from the truth. Again our body was protesting against the height (Machu Picchu is located a lot lower than Cusco) and we got nauseous and got some headaches. Luckily we stayed here only a day before heading back to Lima.
The last days of our trip through Peru, we stayed back in the capital Lima. Because we came from higher ground, our body had to adjust for a day to the low this time. So there is something like low-level disease, albeit in a milder form than altitude sickness. But still, it’s no pleasure to be nauseous and tired -a few complaints we had. That’s why we took it easy for the first few days, worked on our website and social media and picked out some nice places to have a nice lunch. Lima has so many fine restaurants that it’s hard to choose!
Adventure or safety
To fill our last two days, we had visited a neighborhood half an hour’s drive from Lima, called Callao, where there are several beautiful street art and colorful buildings to be found. Ideal for photos, we thought, but our Uber driver strongly advised us not to go to that neighborhood. We kept saying that this was the place we wanted to go. At the end of the day, our driver stood by the side of the road and said it was very unsafe. He really meant it.
Then we decided to drive back to Lima city. We don’t feel unsafe very often, but if a local advises us against something, we usually take this seriously. Also on the last day of our stay we had something to experience, we didn’t really feel like it. Safety is still more important than adventure. With this: Thank you to all the perceptive and friendly Uber drivers who take us safely from location to location and who ensure that we can travel with peace of mind. With beautiful memories of a beautifully varied country we travel back to Belgium.