South America: Peru, Aguas Calientes, and Machu Picchu
|The fog lifted and revealed the amazing ruins.|
What a long and amazing day!
Be in the Know: I can’t reiterate enough that you shouldn’t be in a rush to come here and leave. The rest of our group had to leave Machu Picchu around 3 pm in order to catch their train. Rebecca and I were there for many more hours until they politely kicked us out. We would have loved more time.
Morning to Machu Picchu
|Our morning walk up to the Sun Gate|
We packed up our things and left our bags in the hostel’s luggage room. Then it was off to catch the early bus.
As soon as we arrived we walked quickly to reach the sun gate. However, we didn’t have enough time. We had an appointment to meet our guide at 9:00 AM, so after an hour of walking up, we had to turn around.
Definitely Get a Guide for Machu Picchu!
|The view of Machu Picchu from
Huayna Picchu and proof that I made it!
Machu Picchu would not have been as interesting without our guide, Peter! If you come up here without a guide, you can always hire one out at the front gates.
We’re here during the rainy season, so we’ve lucked out that the fog lifted and we were able to get such a great view of the area. Peter took us around and shared Machu Picchu secrets with us.
At 10:30 AM we made our way onto Huayna Picchu (If you want to do this, buy your tickets the night before). What a hike! About a million steps straight up. But what a great view from the top!
After we walked back down (warning, a lot of very narrow, uneven steps) and reached the bottom, the weather was moving in and we were famished.
Food is pricey here
|My favorite flower so far.|
We had brought granola bars (just don’t get caught eating here, and please pack out what you bring!), but it wasn’t enough after all the hiking.
We had a choice between the outdoor snack bar or the restaurant. I was really hungry so we walked over to the ridiculously expensive ($40 per person) buffet restaurant, and just as we walked in and bought a ticket, the skies opened up, drenching anyone standing outside. Rebecca and I might not always have good luck, but we have really great timing.
Anyway, the food was acceptable and some of it even good. We went back about three times to make it as worth it as possible and give time for the rain to go from super downpour to drizzle, and also watched as people piled into exiting buses in droves.
|You can see that the clouds had moved in.|
Afterwards, Rebecca really wanted to see the sun gate, so she took off at top speed while I took my time. I got close to the sun gate, but not close enough. By the time I was within 20 minutes of it, workers were escorting Rebecca down because our time was up. FYI: There was only one other person on the trail. It made it so magical!
At the gate, Rebecca went to pay for our bus ticket out of here, and I ran to the restroom. When I came back, she was mad. She had handed the woman at the ticket counter a 200 nuevo sole, but she had given Rebecca change as if she had given her a 100 nuevo sole. I went back to the window. The woman wouldn’t even look up at me as I tried to talk to her, completely ignoring me. BTW: I’m the one who handles the money, so I know we had 2-200 nuevo soles left and one was gone, so I know Rebecca was right.
So, I tried another tactic. I walked over to the person taking the tickets and asked her if there was a manager, that I needed to speak to someone in charge. She asked me what the problem was and I told her. She replied, “Oh, that’s not possible.” Another worker standing nearby nearly disappeared in an attempt to not help.
Needless to say, we got nowhere in getting our money – so note to all of you out there, don’t bring big bills if you can help it, they seem to like to keep them around here. Even so, we did enjoy our time here and we’d come back again (with smaller bills).
But then the day isn’t over yet. We still need a place to stay. The images of the wonderful croissants are still dancing in my head and I’m thinking of that beautiful hotel, Inka Terra. I did just get my 401K back and what’s a trip of a lifetime without a little splurge?
So yes, once back in Aguas Calientes (also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo) we gathered our things and headed for Inka Terra. I held my breath while they checked us in for $500 for the night. Yikes! But they also upgraded us to a $1,000 room. The $500 I paid included our meals (dinner and breakfast), and the room has a bathtub! (first one I’ve seen since I’ve been traveling), some pisco (a little too strong for us), a wonderful fireplace, and two super comfy beds.
I’ve taken a long, luxurious bath and now I’m hanging out in the hotel’s supplied robe, with my feet up next to a roaring fire. Rebecca is thrilled with this extravagance too. Not that I plan on ever checking into a $500 a night room again on this trip. So, we have to enjoy it while we can.
Tomorrow we’re on to Ollantaytambo!