Situated high up in the Cuzco area of the Peruvian Andes, Machu Picchu is one of the most fascinating places we have ever been to. “The Lost City of the Incas” is not just a spectacular site but also a mysterious one. How did the ancient Inca people move the rocks needed (which weigh tons) to build a city in this mountainous area and stack them so perfectly that even with today’s technology and machinery it is almost impossible to duplicate?
Getting to this 15th century marvel is nothing short of an adventure. After travelling on planes and trains, by cars and a hike…we finally made it…and this is what we saw!
The journey started by arriving in Lima and from there flying into Cuzco. Once the capital of the Inca Empire and today a UNESCO world heritage site, Cuzco is a city filled with history and awe. Before heading into the Peruvian Andes, it is a must to visit Plaza De Armas and take a moment to enjoy the hustle and bustle of this beautiful town.
From Cuzco you have a choice of taking the train or as we chose, to pay a driver to take you to Ollantaytambo, a small town in the Sacred Valley of Peru. The drive took about two hours and the roads were well maintained.
Once in Ollantaytambo we took the train to Aguas Calientes. This is a journey that should definitely be taken during the day. The train takes you through the majestic Andes and the views are spectacular whichever way you look…
You may even see the little, old Peruvian lady who came out to greet the train passengers…
Finally, we arrived in the town of 1600 people, called Aguas Calientes (“Hot Springs”), and it does indeed have hot springs that you can visit…and, if you didn’t bring a swim suit, not to worry, you can rent one on every corner. I am not sure how I feel about wearing a used swimsuit that countless other people have worn, but it is an option!
From Aguas Calientes you have the option to either hike to Machu Picchu which is about 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) or you can take a bus that takes you almost to the site and you hike the remaining distance. We opted for the bus and as per suggestion of the locals, we took the earliest bus, at about 5am. The bus route was steep and windy…and at times scary, due to the narrow road…I was amazed at the skills of the bus driver to get us up the hill safely.
At last we arrived at the entrance and with our previously purchased tickets (you cannot buy tickets at the entrance) we hiked the last stretch to the magnificent marvel of the Andes, Machu Picchu.
Once at Machu Picchu you can embark on a number of other hikes to various parts of the Lost City. We went on the hike to the ancient Inca Bridge.
What an unforgettable journey! It is hard to describe in words the feeling is experiencing something as amazing as Machu Picchu. The sheer size of the rocks used to construct the Inca ruins is inexplicable.
On our way back to Cuzco we chose to spend the night in Ollantaytambo before continuing our adventure. We stayed at a place called Hotel Samanapaq and truly loved our experience there. The owners, husband and wife, were very hospitable and we loved their handmade pottery.
Ollantaytambo is a vibrant, little town with so much character. We loved the cobble stone streets and street side cafes, local market for hand crafted items and the Inca ruins located just up the hill.
All in all, this was one of our most memorable trips. The combination of adventure and historic sites along the way, topped off by the majestic site of Machu Picchu is simply unforgettable. We must have loved this place so much, that we ended up missing our plane from Cusco to Lima…oops! But that’s a whole other story….