Monday, August 22, 2011

Machu Picchu, Inca trail by car, bike, foot and a little luck

After a few days in Cuzco, planning our route to Machu Picchu, we finally decided to take the road less traveled or at least we thought. We left Cuzco, early Tuesday for the town of Santa Teresa it took us about 6 hours making a few stops in some of the small towns on route. This road will take you along the river Urubamba and up the way up the heights of 5000 meters where the fog and ran makes driving very slow and dangerous. Finally we arrived in Santa Teresa at about 3:30pm found a parking lot on the same dirt road to the our next stop which is the hydro electric plant about 15kms on a curvy dirt road. Our mistake is we took our bikes to this point and took us over an hour and half to ride with buses and taxis passing us and blowing dirt in our faces. Now its 5:15pm we are at the plant and instead of taking the train to Aguas Calientes we decided to walk which took us though some 2.5 hours most in the dark. Lucky a lot people were doing this walk too so we had company on this part of the trail and some had touches which helped. 7:45 and we reach Aguas Calientes and its not over we had to get our tickets to enter Machu Picchu, and to our luck we just as we arrived to the ticket office only 5 minutes later the doors behind us closed locking out the other people in the line. Apparently the park only has 2500 tickets to sell per day and we just made it on time to visit early Wednesday.

Its still not over we had to find a place to rest for a few hours before heading up before sunrise. After coming out sale office with our tickets in hand and looking at the people outside still lining up at the door we felt like we had won something even though we had to pay about $50 usd per ticket. Shortly after a guy came up to us working for a local hotel which was cheap for $20 a night. Dirty, exhausted and hungry we took a much needed shower and went out to get dinner we got back to the hostel just before 10pm and we had to wake up again at 5am to get on the early bus up to Machu Picchu. We left the hostel 5:15am sharp and when we passed the ticket office we saw people had camped out front waiting for the office to reopen. The bus stop had a line already forming so Jieun waited in the line while I went to buy the tickets which also had a few people waiting ($8 per person). 6am we are on the first bus heading up the step hill and we spot people hiking it up and when we arrived at the front gates there was already about 100 people that had hiked up earlier.

We enter the park and its so foggy we can barely see our own feet and we over hear a guide saying this is the best spot to wait and about 45 minutes later the fog lifted and we get the most amazing view of the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu. We spent about 3 hours roaming the ruins and taking in our accomplishment of making it this far and now we can cross this one of our to do list. We hiked back down to Aguas Calientes which took another 1 hour just to walk down and passing a lot poor bastards making their way up and everyone of them asked us "is it much further?" I felt bad telling them the truth, YES! haha. When we arrived in town we decided to just take the train back to the hydro station and got our tickets for $12 usd. each. Got a pizza while waiting for the train and reflecting on the past 26 hours.

Machu Picchu, was nice place to see but what we will remember most is the journey. Would I recommend this route, if your in good health sure but if your not like we are don't but we're on a budget so we had no choice this is the absolute cheapest way to see Machu Picchu. Oh yea we took a combi bus back from the train stop to Santa Teresa with our bikes on the roof only $5 for both of us.