Finally I got round to visiting the crown jewel of Peru tourism… I made it to Machu Picchu, and man, was it worth it.
Perhaps one day I will do the Inca Trail, but for now I took the day excursion option. I booked my park entrance and train tickets in advance, but I was unable to complete the bus ticket process online. Based on the availability and a number of factors, I decided to take the afternoon visit, or “second turn”, as per the ticket website. From Ollantaytambo, I took the Perú Rail Expedition train to Aguas Calientes, a quaint little town filled with markets, restaurants and excitement. When I arrived, I got a bus ticket and arranged a guide for the park. I also had to go to another ticket office to have my park entrance ticket printed. While the process is a bit cumbersome, I managed to avoid any queues and the weather was really magnificent.
My guide, Agustin, hails from the Cusco highlands and have been working as a guide at Machu Picchu for the last 20 years. He is knowledgeable, friendly and knows every nook and cranny of the park. He also knows where to take the best pictures. Whether you are interested in Inca history, archeology or mountain air, you will not be disappointed. This place is famous for a reason. It offers mind blowing rock construction, beautiful vistas and hints to symbols of a mystical world of days gone by.
Despite the magnificence of the site, it has to be remembered that only about 40% of the construction is visible. The other 60% lies in marvelous engineering in the terraces, retainer walls and layered construction of the whole city.
Some friendly llamas are currently the only inhabitants of the city, and the rest of us had to vacate at the end of the day. Bathed in the golden afternoon sun, I looked at it one last time before making my way down to the bus and catch my train, the Perú Rail Vistadome, for my journey to Cusco, through the majestic Andes. The train is a luxury train with coffee and snacks and a bit of local entertainment. A joyful end to a magnificent day.