Sometime in June 2009, I was telling folks that I always wanted to go to Machu Picchu in Peru. At that time, I really didn’t even know what country it was in. All I knew was that I wanted to go there. Doing some research back then, I don’t remember how or why, but I got the impression that you had to make a reservation a year in advance. Myth or not, what stuck to my head was that it was difficult. Over the last Christmas holidays, Mario Alinea, one of my high school classmates came home from Seattle to spend some time in the Philippines. We were able to go to Guimaras during the time he was here and it was during this trip when he told me that he had made the trip sometime last year and that it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was. Be that as it may, that was inspiration for me to push through with my trip this February.
I had a scheduled trip to the US in late Feburary. I was en route to attend a conference in Seattle, but I was set to arrive in the US a week before the conference. Looking at my vacant week, I decided to in late January to attempt the trip to Machu Picchu. So I went online and started booking my flights and making all of my arrangements online. A group of Filipinos I met in Peru told me they planned their trip 7 months ago… I took this on with 3 weeks to go.
To put it simply. 1) From the US, fly to to Lima, Peru. 2) From Lima, fly to Cusco. 3) Take a train (or in our case due to the wet weather, we took a bus-train combo) to the town Aguas Callientes. 4) Take a bus (or you can hike up an hour) to Machu Pichu.
After my first day in Cuzco, Peru, I woke up early the next day to be ready for pickup from the hotel at 6:30am. I was then taken to a bus station for the trip to Ollantaytambo. Where we were to catch the train to Aguas Calientes.
Peru has two season, the Wet Season and the Dry Season. During the Dry Season, one takes the train directly from Cusco to Aguas Callientes. But for safety reasons, we need to take a separate bus to the train station at Ollantaytambo.
The whole trip took around 4.5 hours each way with 2 hours by bus, then 2.5 hours by train.
While waiting to board the train, I bought myself a cob of corn. The corn isn’t as sweet as I am used to. And the individual kernels were so big. Anyway, it was filling.
The train ride itself was quite comfortable.
We got off at the town of Aguas Callientes. For those with some Spanish knowledge… yes, it means “hot water.” The town has some hot springs if you wanted to soak after coming from Machu Picchu.
First thing we needed to do after getting of the train was hunt down our tour group. I just looked for the yellow flag.
My package came with a voucher for a buffet lunch… I would take my late lunch later at Toto’s Houe/
From Aguas Callientes, we hopped on a shuttle bus to take us to the top. Halfway up the mountain we were following a number of busses that had stopped. We later found out that just before we got there, there was a small landslide which blocked the small two lane road. None of the busses going up could pass… and neither could the busses going down. After some discussion and quick thinking, the guides told us to switch busses with those that were on their way down.
After that rather eventful trip upwards. We finally got upstairs and we assembled to start the trek/tour.
So we started the trek from this point.
From this point, our guide Victor (the one holding the flags) gave us a briefing to walk up a long series of steps. He told us that at the top is the view seen in most pictures on the internet and on Facebook. At this point, I wasn’t quite sure what he meant.
And so we started the long trek upward.
Pant… pant… pant. Factor in the high altitude, the thin air, plus the fact that I am a little out of shape… I am so our of breath.
And at then at the top… I was overwhelmed by THE view.
Woohoo!!! It is hard to describe… at the view is utterly breathtaking! And I finally made it Machu Picchu.
From another camera…
Victor guided us through the various parts of the City in the Clouds. Stopping every now and then to give us a little history of the place. He also stopped at specific areas and gave us time to take pictures.
Of the benefits of coming at this time of the year is that the wet season was also the low season for tourists to Machu Picchu. These days they only expect around 500 pax per day. During the warmer season, they expect up to 2000 people per day.
Victor explaining about how the sun hits certain rooms during the summer solstice
Traces everywhere… and that’s a steep fall.
This rock formation is actually a small scale model of Machu Picchu… cool!
This is some form of compass… too bad it was cloudy
Meanwhile the stairways get narrow…
This is the main field where parades and games were held.
After a while it was time to head back
Here is the view towards where we started… I took that first panoramic shot from up there!
One of the coolest things is that, as you exit, you can go to the visitor center and have your passport stamped with a Machu Picchu stamp. This is so cool. What a great remembrance.
Our tour ended at around 3:30pm. With plenty of time to make it to the 5pm train back. I took the next available shuttle bus down and had my very late lunch at Toto’s.
On the way to the train station, one has to pass through this market which reminded me so much of Baguio.
All in all this trip was simply AWESOME. After almost two years, this is the biggest bucket list item I have achieved since I started on this Lakwatsero adventure.
Now I have to find a way to top this. Hmm…..
Wikipedia Entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machu_Picchu