Travel Journal

Aguas Calientes– Machu Picchu

(Sunday 24 April 2011) by Mike and Julie's sort of round the world trip
Day 251 4/15/11
Aguas is a small town with a well placed infrastructure to tourism and how to squeeze the last Sol out of you. From the train station you have no choice but go through the bazaar maze to get to the main square to be greeted by restaurants, coffee shops and internet cafes. My sleeping choice was just off the main square with rooms for just under $10. I immediately went to pick up my ticket for MP from the IPeru office and didn’t have exact change so ended up donating 4 sols to the Peruvian cause (136 sols was the fee) rather than waiting for other people to provide change as there was already five people waiting for the same thing). I checked out where to get bus tickets up to the ruins and I confirmed you can only buy tickets for same day travel although I’m still not sure as I read the following day the ticket was good for three days.
The town is small and easily explored in a few hours. I stayed up later than I probably should drinking lattes at the internet café as my hotel had no internet access. I really wanted to climb Wayna Picchu which you have probably seen in postcards rising up behind the ruins like Sugarloaf Mountain. They only let 400 persons do so: 200 in the early group (7-8AM) and 200 in the later group at 10 AM with the later being the preferred and the tickets are given out first come first served so I wanted to be on one of the first buses that left at 5:30 AM. I set my alarm for 4:15 and went to sleep.
Got up on time, took a quick shower and at 4:40 arrived to see a humongous line for the bus. I immediately got in line and after awhile I noticed people had tickets for the buses even though the bus office wasn’t suppose to open till 5. Some nice ladies held my place while I got a ticket – either the office opened early or they got the tickets the day before and ended up on the eighth bus out (yes, I counted).
I was one of the first out of our bus and with 32 persons per bus and not everyone wanted to climb Wayna, there should be no problem with getting in the second group of two hundred right? Well there were a lot of people there already, perhaps other buses are allowed up here. I heard the guide from the group behind me tell them he got them stamps to go up but the second group was already full so he got them up in the first group. Obviously money talks here and when I got there they only had a few left in the first group which I took.
There was a lot of fog which didn’t clear up till about nine AM which was well after my starting time to climb up Wayna so I didn’t really see any point in the ascent if I couldn’t see MP so I blew it off. If you don’t want to climb Wayna, there really is no reason to try to get here earlier because you can’t see anything anyways! If you do, camp out early on the bus line, buy a guide, bribe the ticket clerk, do whatever you can to get the stamp for the second group.
Since I had some time to kill, I found where the Inca Trail entered MP and backtracked a kilometer or two to see how it was. The path was level at this point but the stone path can be tricky on the ankles. I saw a few groups coming in from their three day hike and they were so happy to finally arrive. There were some unfit hikers so I’m sure I could do the trek however from what I’ve read and heard it’s not the most comfortable means to get here although it is quite beautiful. As I headed back to MP I thought technically I could say I took the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu…
Anyways, as I wrote, the fog cleared about nine and I spent several hours scampering about the site. It’s not really that large but there obviously was a complete, self-contained society here. The mountain provided great views of the valley below and I would occasionally sit in the empty rooms wondering what life was like when the place was at its peak.
Sorry if the page took awhile to load as I had a hard time eliminating photos from this post which I have put below. My train back was at one and after a few hours I had seen the entire site so I headed back down for a pizza and a ride to my next stop. As you can see from my photo, I could have used the extra rest.



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