Machu Picchu, a site that does justice to all the hype and mystery that surrounds it. For us, it has been one of the top 5 places we have ever visited in all our travel. A 15th century Inca site, located near Cusco, it alone is reason enough to make the long journey from India to Peru.
How to Get There
Well, as good as Machu Picchu (MP) is, Peru government has not left any stone unturned to milk money out of tourist because of it. While many tourists (especially Westerners) use Inca trail which is essentially a long hike to reach MP site, bulk of visitors like us use an alternate way to reach here. Following is the step by step approach to reach MP site:
- Arrive in Cusco by air or land
- Take a cab or bus to Ollantaytambo, small town about 2 hours away from Cusco
- From Ollantaytambo, take a luxury train(meant only for tourists) to Aguas Calientes. This town is gateway to MP site
- From Aguas Calientes, take an official Machu Picchu bus uphill to reach the site.
- For return, follow the steps in reverse.
At Machu Picchu Site
We took 6:40 am Inca Rail train from Ollantaytambo. As we were travelling in Executive class, we were treated to complimentary refreshments & beverages. We reached Aguas Calientes by 8:10 and walked to Main Street for taking the official bus for a 25 minute steep uphill ride.
Once we got off the bus, we queued up for the entry to the site. While planning for this trip, we had budgeted about 7 hours at the site. I was thinking that it may be too much. But we were just not prepared for the spectacle.
The whole ridge is covered with various structures made out of stone. Apart from being an architectural & engineering marvel, the site is one to behold. No matter what I write, the size and impact of the place cannot be conveyed via a blog post. For us 7 hours just flew by. There are residential quarters, bathhouses etc. at MP site that tells us that this civilization was way ahead of its times. The tell take signs of knowledge of construction techniques, drainage methods, scientific principles gave us a glimpse into Inca’s acumen.
We went berserk with camera for first 3 hours try to capture every corner of the site. But eventually we did realize that it is not possible. As the whole site is situated on a ridge, there is enough up & down hike with in the place that one needs to do. By afternoon, groups come into the site and it does become little touristy. There are two additional mountains, that one can climb from the site but you need special ticket for that.
- Try to arrive as early as possible to avoid tourist groups.
- Stay a night before at Ollantaytambo or Aguas Calientes for better experience
- Machu Picchu is an expensive place to visit. Be ready to spend about USD 250 per head for a day trip.
- Carry both Sunscreen & raincoat. You will surely need one or may be both in the same day.