We started early, around 5am, as the train to Machu Picchu left at 6.10am. The hostel organised a packed breakfast for us and we ordered a packed lunch too, so our bags were full to the brim with food for the long day ahead. The train journey was easy going, looking out onto the mist covered mountains, the powerful river and the life around. It was a bit shaky at times though and I did wonder how the train attendant was serving hot drinks without burning himself or other people at times.
Just before 8am we arrived at Aguas Calientes and after a quick toilet stop, we didn't know where to go next. A woman in front of us didn't either and she had been to Machu Picchu 15 years earlier - it had changed that much. We got directions, passing over the same gushing river we saw on the train to get the bus stop, and another £25 later (the price of the return bus journey) we were on our way, winding up the side of a steep mountain. It was a little scary when buses coming down passed us! This is the view of the bus route once we were at the top:
Then we were at Machu Picchu. What can I say? It is stunning, absolutely breathtaking. The location is beautiful and the fact that this city had been carved out and built on the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere in the 15th century is mind blowing. And then to think that it was rediscovered as recently as 1911 and we're lucky enough to be able to travel here only 102 years later. It feels really special.
After a short walk around the bottom of the inca city, Andrew had to get ready to climb Huayna Picchu - the mountain in the back of all the picture postcards of Machu Picchu. Here is what he says about it:
"The first part was really easy as it was downhill where you cross from Machu Picchu to Hauyna Picchu. Then it was pretty steep all the way to the top and there bits where you were very close to the edge. Some people, who were on the way down the mountain, were laughing at me because I was really heavy breathing! But I got up there in only 30 minutes, which is probably record time?! The way up wasn't as scary as I had expected, after reading all the blogs. To get to the very top I had to climb through a rock and up a little ladder, then you stand on some large boulders - a bit like Morecambe's stone jetty but a bit higher! I asked someone to take a picture of me right at the top and they didn't even get Machu Picchu in the background?! The view was really good." (Dictated by Andrew Waugh, Scribed by Stacey Waugh*)
And that's as much enthusiasm and embellishment as you will get from Andrew Waugh!! You can see from the photos that it was pretty incredible.
While Andrew climbed I sat on a wall, taking in the view of the mountains, ruins and Llamas, and reading. At one point, a Llama decided it wanted to get involved, walked to the edge of the square, had a poo, walked to the top of the square and had another, then left us.
Once he was back (Andrew, not the Llama), we walked around the rest of the ruins and had lunch sat in the shelter of one of the settlements.
We then took the trail to the sun gate, which is the point that those who take the Inca trail (a four day trek to get to Machu Picchu, which is closed in February) first see the inca city in the distance. It's about an hour and a half round trip, uphill for the first half, but worth every laboured breath.
And finally we took the short trip to the Inca bridge, which has some good views but the bridge really isn't worth seeing. Apparently it's where they used to kick the wooden plank away if they were being invaded.
The best part of that was seeing some Japanese guys stand on the edge of the rock and pretend to lift up Simba on Pride Rock and sing! Andrew joined in:
Just as we were walking to exit the park the rain came - we were so lucky with the weather. It was a long journey back to the hostel in Ollantaytambo, via a hot chocolate in Aguas Calientes and some sort of festival, and we were so tired when we finally arrived.
- Andrew wanted the 'Dictated' bit in as he thought I wouldn't make him sound like him!