I am really enjoying our accommodations in Ollantaytambo. When John slipped into bed the other night he commented on how nice the linens were. It's funny, the decor is simple but the bedding is great. The family is so lovely.... including their Saint Bernard named Beethoven.
Today we are staying overnight in Machu Picchu before returning to Ollantaytambo so the family let us leave our suitcases in our room for the night we were away.
After breakfast we went to the Ollantaytambo railway station by way of a three wheeled tuktuk and caught our train to Machu Pichu on Peru Rail. The hour and a half trip wasn't just a way to get there, it was pure magic. There was something gorgeous to see in every direction you looked. At one point, the whole area beside the river was covered with colorful gladiolus.
The train follows the valley beside a rushing river, towered over by rugged mountains, some snow capped and others so high they were shrouded in clouds. The valley was lush and we made our way into a fragile and beautiful cloud forest ecosystem.
The train goes right into the centre of Machu Picchu town, also known as Agues Calientes. Literally, if you stretched you arms out the train window, your hand would brush through stores, restaurants and hotels. It is a tourist town so prices are higher then other places. Unlike many other tourist towns, this one does have character.
Our hotel was central, clean, had a good sized hot shower and was a typical sterile hotel with no character.The Wifi was crappy. However it was just for one night and I did like having a huge window overlooking the river and main strip.
After checking in, John and I bought our bus tickets from the town to the Machu Picchu Archeological Site.
We had a little over an hour to grab lunch at a Peruvian food restaurant. I couldn't resist ordering the stuffed peppers again. While we were eating, it started to pour. When we finished eating, I ran back to the hotel and put on my waterproof socks, rain pants and rain jacket. The sun came out when we were standing in line for the bus. The bus was packed so John and I couldnt sit together. I ended sitting at the front with a tour guide. I managed to get my rain jacket and pants off and into my backpack.
The 25 minute bus ride up to the site was an adventure in it's own right. The line up to get the bus is long. They check not only your bus tickets but also your timed Machu Picchu tickets. There are many buses going up and down. It is well organized.
The narrow road to Machu Picchu is a series of switch backs with many hairpin turns. Most of the time there are no guardrails along the steep sheer drops. Often when another bus was coming from the opposite direction, one of the buses had to back up.
Nothing can prepare you for your first sight of Machu Picchu. Wow.
We hired a tour guide named Luis to take us around. Having the guide added so much to our understanding of the site. His English was excellent.
There are no washrooms once in the site.
The day was sunny and warm. Perfect weather. Luis made the place come alive for us.
The afternoon just flew past. Machu Picchu does not disappoint. I also loved all the llamas hanging around the site. At one point one llama jumped down into a group of tourists from one of the higher tiers, startling the group.
We returned to Agues Calientes by bus, cleaned up at our hotel and went out for supper.
We were getting up the next morning at 4:30am so we showered and had an early night.
There are a lot of dogs running around Agues Calientes. Unfortunately between the dogs barking and tourists staying up late it was quite loud most of the night.
It was pouring rain when we got up so we postponed our departure for an hour. After eating breakfast at the hotel, we stood in the long line waiting for the bus to take us back to Machu Picchu.
Today the site was covered in clouds. Every now and then the clouds would dissipate only to return again.
John and I did the 25 minute hike to the Inca Bridge. The path was narrow with some sheer drops. I was very proud of myself for doing it. John did the final few feet right to the bridge.
There was a rope attached to the rock for people to hold on to at this part and a sheer drop below. A woman was crying as she was holding on to the rope and returning across the ledge. That would have been me...glad I didn't do that last little bit.
The bridge is a path carved into the stone of a sheer cliff with a gap in the path that can only be overcome by crossing a bridge. If the fridge is removed then nobody can approach from that direction.
When we completed the Inca Bridge trail, John and I sat on a rock overlooking the cloud that surrounded Machu Picchu. There was a guy sitting on a rock near us. I said something to John and then the guy on the rock said "Kim, is that you?". Well I was blown away!
It was Dan, my roommate from over 30 years ago. He was in Peru with his daughter, Sam. What are the chances of that?
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Macchu Picchu together, sometimes in the rain. I was very happy for my rain pants and waterproof socks. Unfortunately I found that my waterproof jacket and backpack are not so waterproof.
Machu Picchu in the rain and clouds is a whole other mood than in the sun....very mysterious.
After our visit, Dan, Sam, John and I went for a lunch back in Agues Calientes. Too soon it was time for John and I to catch our train back to Ollantaytambo. Dan and Sam went back to Cusco on a later train.
This time our train tickets were the regular class. The difference (besides price) were less leg room, smaller tables and no free drinks or brownies.
Beethoven the St Bernard was there to great us when we returned to our accomodations.
TIPS & COSTS
Peru Rail tickets- vistadome class- $85US
Hotel- $31 cad per night