Machu Picchu was an amazingly, indescribably, breathtakingly fantastic experience. And not only because it is one of the wonders of the world, not even because it is a beautiful spot, full of energy and not for being so remote and adventurous to reach…
No, the magic was caused by all of these things together and much more. And this turned the place into the perfect spot to celebrate Werners´ birthday.
- For example, just imagining how people over 600 years ago could build something in this environment in the middle of the Andes, on slopes so steep, that you even catch your breath walking around.
- It was also fascinating, that unlike many other Inca sites, this place is basically in its original shape. Machu Picchu was not discovered until the beginning of the 20th Century, so the invading Spanish colonizers could not destroy it.
- And if you climb one of the higher peaks around the Machu Picchu, like the Huayna Picchu or the Intipunku (Sun gate) you get rewarded by a gorgeous view. Plus you can feel really proud, as these points are pretty high… :)
If you visit Machu Picchu outside of the main season (May-July) like we did, you might encounter that sometimes the Sun is disappearing behind the clouds and from time to time there are a few – or even more – drops of rain and fog passes over the site. But on the positive side there are much less visitors. This also means that if you take your time and spend a whole day at the site, you will have time periods when you have relatively few people around. Then it feels like the place belongs to you.
Although at the beginning we felt like organizing the trip here would be impossible without an agency, in the end it turned out to be a rather easy exercise – at least off-season.
- The only way to get to Aguas Calientes, the basecamp for Machu Picchu (beside a 4-day hike) – is on a train from Cusco or Ollantaytambo.
- In Aguas Calientes you have to take a transfer bus that takes you uphill in 25 minutes to the entrance. (again, you have the alternative to climb a steep staircase for about 1,5 hours)
- Before you get on the bus you need to have an entrance ticket to Machu Picchu archeological park (and you passport for identification).
The train ticket and the entrance tickets are available online, or can be purchased in Cusco and in Ollantaytambo. The bus ticket is sold in Aguas Calientes at the bus station. All is very well organized.
We were warned about the pure touristic setup of the small town beneath Machu Picchu – called Aguas Calientes. This is the only place from where you can go up to the Citadel – so you can hardly avoid going there. But we were positively surprised how friendly and professional the service was in all the cafés, restaurants and shops we visited there. and how smooth and well organized the transport to the hilltop worked.
The way to Machu Picchu is already a great preparation for this magical Inca site. Cusco is the cultural and historical capital of Peru and represents the blending of the Inca and Hispanic cultures. The Sacred Valley – running between the impressive hills of the Andes along the Urubamba river – is also a gold mine for lovers of culture and history. It is packed with mighty Inca citadels, beautiful churches and pretty markets embedded in a marvelous landscape. We will be posting more on these soon.