Adventures & Images from Amanda, the one "Behind the Zoom"

Monday, March 28, 2016

Our day in Machu Picchu

The morning of our Machu Picchu day started with a quick application of sunscreen and shampoo (shampoo acts as a bug repellent).  Check of our backpack/fannypack for snacks, our 1/2 sandwich from dinner, waters, camera batteries, tickets - both train and Machu Picchu, money and passports.  On our way out of our hotel we grabbed our sack breakfasts they made ahead for us!  The Perurail train station is just a short walk down the hill so off we headed to make the first train out at 5:05am.  We booked the Expedition roundtrip as times seemed to work and low cost.  Really comfortable, there was snacks served and as soon as it was light we could see the Urubamba River,  the train follows it along alot of the way.

 The Ollantaytambo train is booked Ollantaytamo to Machu Picchu but doesn't actually go to Machu Picchu.  It goes to the small town of Aguas Calientes. (Some people choose to stay here when traveling to Machu Picchu, we wandered the town on way back down but didn't stay long).  From Aguas Calientes we purchased roundtrip bus tickets to Machu Picchu.  Round trip guaranteed a bus down as they fill up especially toward the end of the day.  We went straight to the bus and after a switchback ride up the mountain we ended up at the entrance to Machu Picchu.   To enter we had to show our tickets and passports.  You can come and go a couple of times but they stamp your ticket each time, restrooms and food are only available at the entrance.  If you want to stamp your passport with the Machu Picchu stamp it is right inside the entrance.  

The clouds were low so we weren't seeing everything all at once, we hiked in and our first views were of the current residents, Llamas!

Cierra was happy as they were on her wishlist for the trip, they put up with the visitors, allow you to pet them, but don't come running over.  
We headed up to sun gate which is quite a hike UP!  But as the clouds started to break the views were breathtaking!

Headed down from Sun Gate we could see more people had hiked in.  We were so glad we got there early and weren't crazy crowded for awhile.  Looking out over the ruins really takes your breath away and gives you a sense of pure wonder.  Truly incredible what was built and the planning, just Wow!
We hiked down and out for lunch and restroom break.  There is a little cafe there but it is kind of pricey.  We had some fruit from there and our 1/2 sandwiches we packed in.  Headed back in to explore the ruins up close.  More visits with the llamas ~
The ruins are amazing, the aquaducts, the buildings, the whole idea this was built 500 years ago without modern tools is incredible and the engineering of the homes, terraces, whole community is so mysterious!  It is truly one of the wonders of the world! 

Now we were not booked on a return train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo until the early evening train but after a solid 5 hrs hiking around we were ready to call it a day.  We didn't do the additional hike and were ok with that.  It was getting crowded, warm out and I was starting to feel the altitude and climbing/hiking exhaustion.  We decided to catch the bus down and explore Aguas Calientes a little.  Note:  from our experience visiting Machu Picchu early morning was the best, less people, the cloud cover opened up to amazing views also wasn't as hot!

Aguas Calientes has hotels, hostels, restaurants, shopping. It is bigger than I thought it would be.   After walking around town for awhile we ended up back at the train station and were able to catch an earlier train back to Ollantaytambo, for a cost.  Earlier train time we wanted was the Vistadome which is an upgrade from the Expedition so off we went on the "first class" train back.  Now it was also quite comfortable, had snacks, but this train had a fashion show and skit to music ~ not quite sure I would up and pay for the different train but in this case the time worked better for us getting back so we would have time to eat dinner and relax after hiking. The skit did involve the devil dance and it is here that ~
Cierra "danced with the devil in Peru"

*Next blog post ~ leaving our home away home in Ollantaytambo and headed to Cusco



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