Cusco to Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu!!

Machu Picchu Travel Blog

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super early breakfast before rushing to the train station. The staff was so fast and patient with us. :)
Tuesday 26 Feb, 2008

This was a super early morning! No shower as we rushed to meet Augusta on time. We had to pay for the hostel in cash again. It was S/. 108 and I paid S/. 100 of it. We piled into the taxi and headed to the train station. Here we had to wait a bit for Augusta and Chris to work everything out with all the tickets. We eventually get onto the PeruRail train and the luggage can be stored overhead on racks or between and under the seats. I'll catch up later! G'day!

12:10am 27/02/08

The train ride was very interesting. We started going one way, then we stopped and went backwards! Then we stopped again! We did this multiple times as the train switched tracks to go up a hill! The tracks were very close to people and houses outside the windows.
the PeruRail station in Cusco. We are just about to board to Aguas Calientes.
At one point while we were still in Cusco, we stopped for about 20 minutes because they said they hit a taxi! (lightly)

We met some nice people on the train. The guy who sat next to Gloria was named Thomas and he's from Holland. We chatted quite a bit with him during the 4-hour train ride. There was also a nice couple directly across from Gloria and Thomas (sideways). Their names were Danny and Thais who both live in Miami but are originally from Cuba. The train was fun because we passed all kinds of interesting scenery. Beautiful fields and farms and rivers and farm animals. We stopped in a few small towns, including Ollantaytambo, where there are more ruins. Some passengers got on or off at these stops.
inside the PeruRail train. It doesn't matter which way you sit, at some point you WILL go backwards! :)
I took a lot of photos out the window!

Chris wandered the train a lot and made some friends with people from Argentina and Chile. The guy Thomas was very cool... he's been playing the violin since he was very young and his mother plays the harp! He's 25 and works in energy. Gloria got a website from him for the band he plays with. The ride went quickly and when we arrived in Aguas Calientes there were some people waiting to take us to our hostel: Royal Inti Inn. No cars in this town! We had to walk, but it wasn't far at all. :)

Our hostel was SO new (only open a month, I think) that the #'s on the doors are written on paper! There's also no curtain for the shower, which just makes the entire bathroom soaking wet.
hanging out the window, the Cusco platform before the train departed.
The beds here are the hardest of all!! NO give whatsoever! Thank goodness I had a blanket to bunch up under me and give some back support. We wanted to get to Machu Picchu right away but I was hungry because I didn't get food on the train. There are not any quick and easy food vendors here. We got over by the buses and talked to a lady who said 10 minutes for some chicken sandwiches.

I felt bad we were delaying Machu Picchu even longer, but I was quite hungry and the buses leave as soon as they're mostly full. The sandwiches were done quicker than 10 min and we took them onto the bus to eat.
passengers on the train to A.C. - from many countries across the planet!
The ride up to Machu Picchu took about 20 minutes and involved a lot of switchbacks! We saw a few backpackers on the Inca Trail on the way up. They have steps going up the mountain, in a much more straight line than the road for the bus! At the top there was another hotel! (more of a resort) I bet it's expensive to stay at the gate into Machu Picchu!! Some of the elderly folks on our bus were actually staying there! Gloria said she heard one of the guides say it's $1,000 a night, per person, for a room with no view! Crazy!! We went straight to the entrance and got a date stamped on our ticket. [note: even though we paid for our entry tickets with a package deal, the cost written on the ticket said: S/. 122.00]

Chris had some trouble with his large camera bag. They made him go back to the security area so they could inspect the bag's contents.
going through the switch-backs in Cusco
He was a bit peeved but we got on our way quickly. The weather was foggy/misty but still visible enough to see just how AMAZING these ruins are!! We said we were going to meet Chris at a high area at 4:30pm cause the “park” closes at 5:30pm. (no sunset photos!) Chris wandered off right away and Gloria and I started our own trek. We went on the “low road” and saw lots of the amazing structure. The clouds seemed endless and at two different times I sang out loud sort of a sun-chant song I made up asking El Sol to come out!

The place is absolutely humongous!! It's so amazing to think these ancient native warriors chose this beautiful location as their home! On the bus ride up, Chris kept asking how they got up there through the thick jungle and what did they eat?! This location is at the “eyebrow” of the rainforest!.
the train below the beautiful hills!
. very lush and green.  The mountains rise on all sides in large pillars of jungle wilderness. Far below is a river (Rio Urubamba) and some small farms are visible. The whole of Machu Picchu is quite indescribable!! It completely engulfs an entire hillside, yet there are trails that lead up to some houses/areas that are much more remote. These people worshiped the earth, but especially the SUN!!

We never made it to the remote areas on the hill where they have the “sun gate” and this is where the “typical” Machu Picchu photo is often taken. Gloria and I had a good time wandering and taking photos. After about an hour I said I wanted to be alone for a bit to meditate.  One thing I completely forgot on this day was the BUG REPELLANT!! Very, very necessary! Of all the days on this trip, TODAY was the most bug-infested! Nothing I could do and I got bitten a few times but it wasn't horrible.
hangin out to dry
I found a nice spot that was kind of hidden from all the tourists everywhere, and enjoyed a quiet moment by myself. I took some fun self-portraits and just sat in my spot over-looking the river for a little while.

As it had been described to me, Machu Picchu is very spiritual, full of energy and mystery and wonder! I had such a wonderful time and during the time I was chillin in my spot, the sun shone on a far mountain! And within 30 min or so, it was sunny all over Machu Picchu! It was so spectacular!!! :-P I wandered a while on my own, sort of discovering things myself. I saw a small gopher/squirrel-like animal which was very cute. There were many beautiful flowers of a variety of bright colors. Also pretty butterflies and birds. The whole experience was incredibly majestic! I met a nice couple from Wisconsin: Karyn and Tom.
ah, the countryside... hills and cows :-D
This was their 2nd day and they said our ticket should be good for another day (we wanted to see the sunrise). We chatted about 15 minutes and they were headed out towards the exit, so I continued in another direction.
Stop for now.

[5:32 pm 27/02/08]

I kept running into tour groups. Apparently about 90% of visitors have guides. As nice as it is to hear all about the cool features, I really like to do my own wandering. During my wanderings by myself I sat down to rest briefly and a tour group was walking by. A random man said “that is a perfect picture of you.” So I asked if he would take one with my camera. The sun was bright in my face, but it was definitely a fun photo!! After a good hour or so by myself I ran into Gloria again. It was past our scheduled meeting time so we walked together looking for Chris.
cows and kids passing by the train!... the lil one in the ditch is waving! ;-D
We walked up to an area I had not been to yet which turned out to have a STUPENDOUS view of a good majority of the city. We took some more phenomenal photos and then realized there were people blowing whistles to indicate it was time to start climbing down and out of the park. It was about 5:00pm at this point and we figured they had to give people time to be out by 5:30pm. We took our time and stopped for more photo opps.

I really don't think it's possible to get a bad photo in this place!! As Gloria and I were walking down all the steps we saw Chris in the distance. One part I never got up close to was the alpacas... but they were tied up, so no big deal. I preferred the real “wild” animals anyway. We got down to the bus area and waited for Chris there. I wanted to go to the bathroom, but it cost un sole! Stupid! I didn't have to go very bad so I went back to the line.
as we move along, we pass kilometer markers and a river
There was a silly-dressed man near the buses. He had on a poncho and strapped onto him was a hat, a camera, sunglasses, a handkerchief, and a few other things. It also appeared he was wearing shorts, but I didn't look that closely. Gloria told me later that he didn't have any pants on at all because he had an accident! Whoa! During this same time, Chris was asking around to see if our tickets would be good for another day. Turns out they weren't but we were still satisfied!!!

The bus ride back down was pleasant (sitting all the way in the rear again) and we chatted with a nice older couple in the row in front of us. When we got back to the hostel we were pretty pooped, so we sat around for a few. Aguas Calientes is such a tiny tourist town that every store along the road was 1) a hostel, 2) a restaurant, or 3) a souvenir shop! We had dinner at a place called Restaurant Pizeria Urpi! Our waiter was a very animated 12-year-old boy named Omar.
a very rural homestead
The prices in this city were TOURISTY but luckily they had a 3-course deal menu for much cheaper... even though it wasn't nearly as “Peruvian.” I had some fresh papaya juice, an avocado salad (they called it a Stuffed Avocado), and a vegetable omelette. Omar was very fun and also asked if we had any coins from our country. We didn't have any with us, but both Gloria and I said we would bring some to him later. The food was good and after dinner, even though we were quite tired from all the hiking, we wandered the streets a bit. They have these fun striped pants that look kind of like loose, comfy pajama pants, but they tie on the ankles and they have cargo pockets and big front packets. I thought they were very cute and colorful so I went into a shop to look. I asked to try one on and the man said yes.
the view out the train window was always changing and always amazing! :)
They fit okay, but this shop really didn't have a color I loved in my size. Then Gloria showed up again while I still had some pants on. I said I didn't want to get something unless I really loved it. The pants weren't all that great so we moved on.

Before shopping I had gone to look at the rushing river and now I wanted water to drink. I got one of the huge 2.5 L bottles and some canchita snack. We were headed back to our hotel when a random guy at a restaurant asked if we could take a photo. Gloria obliged and the next thing we know we're sitting with Eric and Peter, the 40-year-old twins! They were very friendly and chatty and we probably talked with them for about an hour! Turns out they were staying in the same hostel and leaving on the same train too! What a fun day!!! Peace, Jo

[12:21am 28/02/08] - time & date of journal entry

mountaingirl says:
Nice pictures and great blog! I am going there next May and I enjoyed your updates :-)
Posted on: Oct 29, 2009
mabby says:
Love the pics, Great blog!
Posted on: Oct 29, 2009
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super early breakfast before rushi…
super early breakfast before rush…
the PeruRail station in Cusco. We …
the PeruRail station in Cusco. We…
inside the PeruRail train. It does…
inside the PeruRail train. It doe…
hanging out the window, the Cusco …
hanging out the window, the Cusco…
passengers on the train to A.C. - …
passengers on the train to A.C. -…
going through the switch-backs in …
going through the switch-backs in…
the train below the beautiful hill…
the train below the beautiful hil…
hangin out to dry
hangin out to dry
ah, the countryside... hills and c…
ah, the countryside... hills and …
cows and kids passing by the train…
cows and kids passing by the trai…
as we move along, we pass kilomete…
as we move along, we pass kilomet…
a very rural homestead
a very rural homestead
the view out the train window was …
the view out the train window was…
rural Peru - farm workers and thei…
rural Peru - farm workers and the…
the beautiful rural mountains
the beautiful rural mountains
I love this photo, from the train …
I love this photo, from the train…
here we are stopped in Ollantaytam…
here we are stopped in Ollantayta…
a beautiful waterfall we passed...…
a beautiful waterfall we passed..…
the city of Aguas Calientes and th…
the city of Aguas Calientes and t…
the main street of Aguas Calientes.
the main street of Aguas Calientes.
the bus up to Machu Picchu from Ag…
the bus up to Machu Picchu from A…
on the bus up to Machu Picchu... I…
on the bus up to Machu Picchu... …
looking down to the river below, f…
looking down to the river below, …
the main map as you walk in.
the main map as you walk in.
as you walk into Machu Picchu, the…
as you walk into Machu Picchu, th…
first order of business... lots an…
first order of business... lots a…
view to the northwest from the ent…
view to the northwest from the en…
the qolqas or Storage buildings,…
the "qolqas" or Storage buildings…
some wicked-lookin ants!
some wicked-lookin ants!
angle view of the agricultural zon…
angle view of the agricultural zo…
even before he fog lifted, I was q…
even before he fog lifted, I was …
here is Gloria... looking small ag…
here is Gloria... looking small a…
angle view of the qolqas and lower…
angle view of the qolqas and lowe…
this place is fantastically exciti…
this place is fantastically excit…
THAT is the windey road we take on…
THAT is the windey road we take o…
AMAZING. looking up toward the gu…
AMAZING. looking up toward the "g…
the rocks are simply gorgeous
the rocks are simply gorgeous
walking between the temples.
walking between the temples.
rocks and stones and thumbs of hil…
rocks and stones and thumbs of hi…
its a bit of a maze ;)
it's a bit of a maze ;)
this flower? is so bright and co…
this 'flower?' is so bright and c…
angle shot
angle shot
buildings without rooves
buildings without rooves
low angle
low angle
looking up toward the royal enclo…
looking up toward the "royal encl…
impressive architecture
impressive architecture
thru the window...
thru the window...
here we sit amongst the gods.
here we sit amongst the gods.
thumbs up! :)
thumbs up! :)
Hanging out, enjoying the massive …
Hanging out, enjoying the massive…
:) beauty everywhere
:) beauty everywhere
by the way, there are LOTS and LOT…
by the way, there are LOTS and LO…
how did they sculpt the hill like …
how did they sculpt the hill like…
do you get the picture of the shee…
do you get the picture of the she…
The Principal Temple
The Principal Temple
the Vilcanota River Valley
the Vilcanota River Valley
stairway to heaven...
stairway to heaven...
this is the Intihuatana Stone. Thi…
this is the Intihuatana Stone. Th…
My zoom-in view of Waynapicchu... …
My zoom-in view of Waynapicchu...…
view of Waynapicchu. I didnt get …
view of Waynapicchu. I didn't get…
I really dig the scenery here! The…
I really dig the scenery here! Th…
sure makes ya wonder how they did …
sure makes ya wonder how they did…
Karyn and Tom, some nice folks I m…
Karyn and Tom, some nice folks I …
because I had waited all day for t…
because I had waited all day for …
going UP
going UP
Waynapicchu in brighter light
Waynapicchu in brighter light
The Ceremonial Rock
The Ceremonial Rock
beyond the doorway
beyond the doorway
alligator plant
alligator plant
chinchilla... wild at Machu Picchu!
chinchilla... wild at Machu Picchu!
a cute lil wildlife animal that ap…
a cute lil wildlife animal that a…
hes got a great view! :)
he's got a great view! :)
one of the cute, colorful birdies
one of the cute, colorful birdies
another view of the adorable birds…
another view of the adorable bird…
one of the local critters! a bit h…
one of the local critters! a bit …
Machu Picchu squared
Machu Picchu squared
during a break in wandering all ov…
during a break in wandering all o…
the overview
the overview
it made me giddiup happidy!
it made me giddiup happidy!
Piccahoocaloo!! :-o
Piccahoocaloo!! :-o
Gloria and I enjoying the amazing …
Gloria and I enjoying the amazing…
this photo is tilted a bit... in a…
this photo is tilted a bit... in …
Ancient City in the Sky :)
Ancient City in the Sky :)
One of the MANY rock paths.
One of the MANY rock paths.
a strange bug!! :)
a strange bug!! :)
The raging river which flows past …
The raging river which flows past…
end of the day with Eric and Peter…
end of the day with Eric and Pete…
Machu Picchu
photo by: NazfromOz