Our morning started early on Wednesday. The trip to Machu Picchu isn’t a quick or easy one. First we took a van to the train station, then we took a train, and finally a bus to get to the ruins.
The train station in Ollantaytambo was very busy, many people were making their way to Machu Picchu just like us. Peru for Less booked us on a Vistadome train. I am so glad we were on this “upgraded” train because it was beautiful. It had big windows all along the sides and the ceiling to provide panoramic views of the sights along the way. While on the train we were served snacks and drinks just like on an airplane. The trip to Aguas Calientes, also know as Machu Picchu Pueblo, was about an hour and a half long. We saw beautiful views of the river and the mountains, and there were even spots where we could see people hiking the Inca Trail.
In Aguas Calientes we were greeted by our tour guide who showed us where we could store our bags and helped us get to the buses. I am so glad our guide met us before we made it up to Machu Picchu because I think it really made the process easier. Once on the bus is was about a 25 minute ride up to Machu Picchu. It was a winding road that was very bumpy! Once we reached the top we were at the entrance to Machu Picchu. We presented our ticket and passport and we were in! Tickets do have a certain time window, so if you are planning a trip make sure you arrange everything accordingly.
Once in the ruins you don’t see the “money” shot yet. You can go in the “easy” way which puts you at the bottom of the ruins, or the “hard” way which puts you at the top, this is where you see the view that everyone takes pictures of. We chose the hard way of course!
Our guide showed us around the ruins and told us some pretty funny stories about things he has seen people do while giving tours. We had many opportunities to take pictures and I was surprised by how many pictures I was able to take without them being full of people. Of course there were many people there, but I don’t think it was as crowded as I was expecting. I highly recommend getting a guide, at least for a little bit. I just don’t think the experience would be the same if you were just looking at everything instead of having things explained to you.
After our tour with our guide we had some free time before we had to be back down to Aguas Calientes to catch our train. Bryan and I decided to hike some of the Inca Trail heading towards the Sun Gate. The Sun Gate marks the end of the Inca Trail and the entrance to Machu Picchu. We didn’t have time to go the whole way because it would have been a 2 hour round trip, but we wanted to be able to say we were on the Inca Trail. We had some nice views of the ruins while we were on the trail.
We made sure to leave the ruins with plenty of time to spare because there was a long line to catch a bus back down to Aguas Calientes and it is a 25 minute trip back down. Once back in Aguas Calientes we had lunch and shopped in the market before catching our train back.
On the train ride back we again received snacks and drinks, but we were also treated to a traditional Peruvian dance and an alpaca clothing fashion show. We were spending the night back in Cusco, and typically you would be able to take the train all the way back, but there were teacher strikes going on and our travel company was afraid they might do something to block the tracks. So, we got off the train in Ollantaytambo and took a van back to Cusco, it was about an hour and a half ride.
It was a wonderful day and an experience I am so glad that I was able to have.
I haven’t really mentioned altitude sickness yet because nobody in our group was really affected by it. Well this was our last night, and I was hit hard by something. I think it was a combination of things. The trip back from Macchu Picchu to Cusco happened quickly and it was about a 4,000 ft. gain in elevation, the ride was very bumpy and made me feel car sick the whole time, and maybe I ate something that didn’t agree with me. Whatever it was, it was not a good night and I spent our last day mostly relaxing in the hotel courtyard because I had no energy. At least it was the last day, and if I had to just sit around somewhere this was a beautiful place to do it.
We had an amazing trip and it was so fun to share it with friends. I was worried it would feel too short, but in the end it felt like just the right amount of time. I would highly recommend Peru for Less and I think they did an amazing job with our itinerary. We had scheduled things to do during the day and at night we could explore on our own. I didn’t know what to expect going into the trip, but I would say it met my expectations and then some. It was a great time!