Monday, 25 January 2016

Marvelous Peru - Part 2 Machu Picchu

So here it is finally, Peru trip Part 2.........Machu Picchu with tons and tons of photos.

We saved the very best for the last. Our final and the most awaited destination at Peru, one of the seven wonders of the world, Machu Picchu.

Have you checked out my previous post on Peru? If not click here

Surreal, breathtaking and indeed a wonder. 
The only way to get to Machu Picchu is by train or by walking the Inca trail. A 3- 4 hr train ride to Aguas Calientes (the little town that is located below Machu Picchu) and from there a short 20 - 25 min bus ride, will take you to the main gate of Machu Picchu. The Inca rail and Peru rail, these are the 2 train company options that you can choose from. We opted for the Vistadome by Peru Rail. Vistadome had some really good reviews and the fact that it offered a panoramic view from the train sounded impressive. The tickets also included buffet lunch at Hotel Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge.

As the hotel where we stayed in Cucso (Tierra viva Cusco saphi) serves breakfast very early in the morning by 5am, we quickly grabbed something to eat (I don't function empty stomach in the morning :P), checked out and then left for the train station at around 5:30am. The reporting time at Poroy station was 6:10am and departure time was 6:40am. The hotel staff offered to look after our luggage till our return. So we only carried stuff that was needed for our 1 night and 2 day stay at Aguas Calenties.

All the trains to Aguas Calenties starts from Poroy station, which is around 20 - 25 minutes from Cusco. We asked the hotel staff to book a taxi for us a day before and the taxi driver also offered to pick us after our return. It will cost no more than 25 to 30 soles from Cusco to Poroy station. 

Some important things to carry for the trip:

  • Print outs of train tickets
  • Payment receipt of entrance to Machu Picchu
  • Print outs of hotel bookings
  • Passport (very important)
  • Rain ponchos/rain jackets/waterproof jackets/Fleece
  • Backpack
  • Hiking shoes
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Mosquito repellant (the sand fly bites at Machu Picchu can get really nasty and very itchy)
  • Camera (we carried both DSLR and water proof camera)
  • Water
Once we boarded the train from Poroy station it took us around 4 hours to reach Aguas Calientes. The ride to Aguas by Vistadome was a pleasant one. The train was overall very spacious, comfortable clean with air conditioning/heating. Food and service were good. The large panoramic windows and the windows on the roof of the train provide an amazing view of the beautiful landscape. There was also a cultural dance performed by the staff on our way back from Aguas Calientes to Poroy station.

Windows on the roof  
These huge windows are definitely a plus. We clicked a lot of photos on our way. 



Aguas Calientes

We reached Aguas Calientes at around 10am. We quickly freshened up at the hotel left our luggage and decided to some sightseeing of the little town followed by lunch.

Aguas Calientes, is a charming little town located below the ruins in narrow valley between the mountains and surrounded by forests. You will find a lot of restaurants, shops selling souvenirs and also many massage salons. 





Some of the narrow lanes leading to the restaurants are very steep. 

Delicious lunch at Tree House. I particularly enjoyed my quinotto (risotto made with quinoa)

We had lunch at Tree house and dinner at El Indio Feliz. I would recommend both of them good food and great ambience.





Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is a without a doubt the most surreal and one of the most beautiful historical site. If simply put in words this place is magical in every way and should definitely be on your must see bucket list. 

However to make your trip up to see the most beautiful Inca ruins memorable, it is always better to be prepared well in advance. I have listed some of them below.  

The very first glimpse as we entered 
Be prepared and keep in mind the following things:

1) We booked the entrance tickets to Machu Picchu online in advance. Once booked we received an email with attachment of the payment receipt. But remember this is not the original ticket for entrance. We showed the payment receipt at hotel reception where we stayed for a night and they gave us the confirmation printouts. We took this confirmation printouts with us and bought the original tickets at the counter located near the bus stop. Please make sure that you have your tickets one day prior or the night before. Buying tickets on the same day of your visit is not recommended as it becomes very very crowded in the morning with people lining up for the bus as well as for tickets. This way you save a lot of time and will reach up early. 

2) The first shuttle bus to Machu Pichhu starts at 5:30am and people start lining up very early in the morning. We were at the bus stop by 5:00am and were surprised to find a really really long line. But the line moved pretty quickly as there were many buses heading up. So try to catch the earliest bus if possible if you want to watch the sunrise. 

3) DO NOT forget to carry your passport. They check the tickets and your passports at the entrance. 

3) Carry your very own water, snacks and lunch. Generally all the hotels at Aguas Calientes offer to prepare and pack lunch for you so ask about this at the reception. Although there is a cafe near the entrance but it is pretty expensive. 

4) Keep your tickets safe with you. You can reenter only once after you exit.

5) Two major downsides, the first been availability of restrooms/washrooms. Once you enter the main gate at Machu Picchu there are no restrooms/washrooms, you will have to walk all the way back to the entrance where the only restroom is located and line up there as well :(. Second downside, since this is one of the most popular tourist attractions, it does get very crowded. So don't be surprised.

6) If you are feeling adventurous you can hike up to Machu Picchu, or the other easier option is to take the shuttle bus up and hike back down.

7) Check the weather and be prepared in case of rain showers as well.

8) Gather as much information as possible online before planning your trip so that you are not in for any surprises during your trip.

9) If you don't have a train back to Poroy the same day, you can spend the entire day at Machu Picchu. Checkout the Sun gate and the Inca bridge. If you are interested in checking out Huana Pichhu you will need a separate ticket for it. 


It was a very cloudy day and as we entered the clouds were enveloping the ruins completely. All we could see were glimpses of the ruins here and there.


We kept moving up and up for a good clear view
Waiting for the clouds to clear up


We started ascending for a good clear view. As we reached the top we couldn't see anything initially. The clouds were playing peekaboo with us for a good amount of time. Just as we were waiting for the clouds to clear up it started to pour cats and dogs. We did check the weather before and it did mention few rain showers but it poured for straight 2 hrs. Since our train back was late in the afternoon, we still had enough time and so we waited patiently for the rain to stop. 

And when the rain started to dwindle we decided to checkout the Inca Bridge. The Inca bridge (pictured below) is believed to be a secret path that lead to Machu Picchu. It is small hike (around 20 25 mins) and the trail is well marked. There are a few places where the trail gets narrow be careful and hold on to the metal and rope hands along the trail whenever required. 




View along the trail to Inca Bridge 
We were hoping to watch the sunrise but unfortunately it was so cloudy that day, the sun was nowhere to be seen :P.

The rain finally stopped after around 2 2-1/2 hrs later and we could finally see a clear view of the citadel. We took of our back back, sat on the near by rocks and kept gazing at the incredible view in front of us. 

And as the clouds started to clear up we clicked as many photos as we could. :) Sharing some of them here. 






Closeup of the ruins
You will also spot many Lamas grazing around 



Time to exploreeee the ruins upclose.....
And yes that is how my hair looks when exposed to humidity :( :(  hahaha...I dont care though :P 























Hope you enjoyed this post and the photos :). So until next time. 


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