Machu Picchu is -of course- on every traveler’s bucket list. So I had to make sure I was there as well.
Machu Picchu is the number one tourist destination in Peru. It’s not a wonder that UNESCO has put it on their list of world heritage sites. Every day, 500 brave souls start the walk along the Inca trail from Cusco to Machu Picchu. I wasn’t one of them: I choose the train. Perurail has three services that can bring you to Aguas Calientes, the station that serves Machu Picchu:
- Expedition: A cheap (US$60-US$80) service
- Vistadome: A panoramic train, with a snack on the way ($US80-$US100)
- Hiram Bingham: A full service, full luxury service (US$400)
I boarded the train in the station of Poroy. Poroy is about 15 minutes by taxi from Cusco center, 30 minutes from the Cruz Del Sur bus station. The station has a small buffet where you can buy a coffee, but they don’t sell still water, so make sure you buy that before. Outside of the station, women are selling bottled water. I couldn’t resist thinking that there’s no coincidence that one can’t find it inside…
The train takes you via a beautiful valley, with a stop in Ollantaytambo, to the station in Aguas Calientes. I promised an article about how the lack of restraint in tourism will kill the industry here, rest assured Aguas Calientes will get a prominent part in it. When you leave the station, you cannot see where to go, as a market with gift shops has been built on the way that leads to the town. You’re forced to make your way through the small passages between the improvised stores.
I dropped my bags in my BnB, called Wonderfull Dreams, and went on my way to Machu Picchu. Tickets for Machu Picchu are sold in the town on the main square in the cultural center. Don’t expect any friendliness in the service, or change when you pay cash since they don’t accept credit cards… With that entry ticket (S./128 at the time of my visit) you can walk up to Machu Picchu, or you can take the bus. The bus tickets are sold on the street alongside the river, next to the bridge.
And then, after the climb, you reach Machu Picchu! It’s impressive, it’s amazing, it’s incredible. There’s a lack of words to describe this city, created around 1450.
Llamas roam free in the area. You can literally come eye to eye with them here. Don’t mess with them, as (so I heard) they’ll spit.
You can walk between the ruins. Beware, however, as there are no handrails and there are steep drops.
It’s amazing to see how all these stones perfectly fit into one another.
From the site, you can discover some amazing sites, when hiking the paths up the surrounding mountains. Some paths are open all day, some paths are only accessible after reservation.
Koen Blanquart is a strategy consultant, journalist, and author.
Wanderlust is one of his driving factors, and he shares his travels here on Boarding Today. Koen is also the skipper of SV Bagabonda, a sailing vessel making a slow circumvention of the globe..
Koen recently published a book on how to manage a remote team: The Suitcase Office.