From the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu
Met our driver at 7:30 am on Monday, April 18th. We were driven from Yucay to Ollantaytambo to the Ollanta Train Station, given our tickets and on our way. The Vista Dome train was schedule to leave at 8:53 AM and arrive at Aquas Calientes at 10:29 AM and it was right on time! As an ex-railroader, I love that!
Note the large bell, they actually still manually ring the bell as the train arrives.
The train follows the Urubamba River through a spectacular canyon which changes to a dense rain forest. From the train you can see the wild river flowing. The only way to view this canyon is by hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu or one of the trains since no road exists.
Aquas Calientes/Machu Picchu Town has a very nice RR station and waiting room. The town is busy and full of life. We were met by a tour representative and walked into town. They gave us the option of leaving a daypack for pick up after visit to Machu Picchu. That was great as we had a long day ahead. We had packed one daypack for the day and the other with our overnight items. If you go without this type of tour, you can check backpacks for the day at the entrance gate to Machu Picchu.
You buy your tickets for the bus ($25 US round trip) to the entrance at this little painted stall (below). Of course, you can walk up to the entrance!
Above, you can see the bus road. You can ride or walk up and down from the river to Machu Picchu entrance. They do have stairs for the walkers between the switchbacks. You can see why we choose the bus!
Finally, Machu Picchu
We had a 3 hour guided tour and then were left to explore the ruins on our own. Our day was mixed with sun, light rain and heavy downpours. Each type of weather seemed to bring out another beauty in this amazing site. We have so many pictures, but I’ll just put in some of our favorites and hope you go see this place yourself. The pictures really don’t give the proper feeling of the expanse and grandeur of the site.
First look-looking down
The Temple of the Condor has a huge triangular stone carved in situ to represent the condor flying and then another representation of the condor on the ground.
Bob did go up to the Gate House and part way up to the Gate of the Sun at the end of the day. I just waited for him due to the climb and return on wet steps.
View from Gate House
Wonderful day. I had been worried if I could handle the height and steps at Machu Picchu. I think the previous days helped. I did fine and we had an amazing day. We spent about 5 hours exploring and could have gone back the next day if needed.
Aquas Calientes /Machu Picchu Town is quite fun with many shops and restaurants. It’s much more lively in the evening than the last few towns. We celebrated our day with beer and ceviche at a local restaurant and watched the trains come and go and all the people!
*Many thanks to Agnieszka Gerwel for the use of her pictures where marked with an asterisk.
Next: More about Aquas Calientes and travel back to Cuzco