Machu Picchu!

Machu Picchu

The remarkable city of Machu Picchu represents the pinnacle of Incan civilization, an extraordinary example of 15th century engineering and will power which has enticed tourists since its discovery in the early 1900’s. However, to the Inca and Peruvians it remains a sacred shrine to the days of true independence, before the Spanish conquest and disease that brought down this once great civilization. Although the Spanish never documented discovering Machu Picchu, the site was abandoned around the time of their invasion. It stands today as the shining example of the Inca people, shrouded in mystery 8000ft into the clouds that guard it.

Above the clouds


There are several, well documented routes to the city of Machu Picchu. Having to forgo the Inca trail  due to seasonal closures, we opted to train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Caliente. This particular course is very popular among backpackers, due to the overall low cost compared to the more expensive journey from Cuzco.

Peru Rail

Peru Rail dropped us into Aguas Caliente at night, and above the loud chatter of the hundreds of tourists we could hear the raging river that slices through the city. There is a booming tourism industry in Aguas. Restaurants compete for your business as you walk the crowded streets; realizing the validity of what every guide book says about the place – tourist trap!Â

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Just know that going in. Certainly don’t treat every shop owner and hostel clerk as such, but be prepared to hold ground if you feel like you’re getting ripped off.

Our plan was to rise early and catch the first bus up to the city. Many travelers, plus guide books suggest getting there first thing, before the masses arrive from Cusco. We had pre-bought our tickets through the Peruvian bureau of tourism’s website, which to our dismay was still working out the kinks. Armed with what we thought were passes to enter the site, we headed down to the bus stop at 4:30am. We were about the 10th group in line and liked our chances of being the first group at the site this morning.

About 5:30 they started boarding the bus and as we get to the ticket lady, I go to hand her exact amount of soles needed to ride and we are quickly escorted out of line and told to buy our tickets at the tiny kiosk 50 meters up the road. As it turns out, despite us asking several times, you must buy your bus ticket before you board! So, as it turned out we ended up boarding the seventh bus instead of the first, but were still optimistic about seeing the ruins not overrun with tourists.

We get to the top after the nerve racking ride up the unpaved, semi collapsing road to the top. As we exit we rush straight to the entrance. I hand the woman our passports and tickets, she scans them and looks up at us but didn’t need to say anything, because I already knew. Your tickets are not valid. We had missed the tiny detail on the bottom of our tickets that read “no pagan” – not paid. Most places would let you buy tickets at the entrance, but not here which we knew from every guide book.  We had to go back down and buy our passes in Aguas Caliente. Upset and humiliated we decided to forgo the $10 bus ride and walk back down and about halfway down, it began to downpour.

When we finally sorted it all out, what ensued was a picture taking frenzy and amazement. As you look

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out at the surroundings and you realize the randomness of the city, curiosity is peaked – how did they build all this up here? What was it for? Chel’s and I walked around, speculating: A vacation getaway for the Inca elite, perhaps.

This entry was posted in Hostels, Maccu Picchu, National Parks, Peru, Ruins, Sacred Valley, South America, Transportation, Travel Tips and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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