18.07.10 – The long road to Macchu Picchu

Macchu Picchu was not known as the lost city for nothing. Impregnable and hidden by steep mountains and harsh landscape, it remained hidden for various reasons from the Spanish conquistadores. Today, I feel that it is only slightly more accessible in spite of modern day conveniences.

As most people know, you can hike to Aguas Calientes (or pueblo Macchu Picchu) – which is the nearest town to Macchu Picchu – over 4-7 days on the so-called Inca trail. Obviously am too lazy for that. Another way is to take the train: Peru Rail runs from Poroy station which is a bit outside Cusco; Peru Rail and another company, Inca Rail, runs from Ollantaytambo which is 1.5 hours away from Cusco. Mind you, the train only takes you to Aguas Calientes. The third and rather popular for being most economical, is by car operated by agencies, which was the option I took (unwittingly on hindsight). However the car can only take you as far as the hydroelectric station, and from there you will still need to catch a train to go up to Aguas Calientes as there is no road leading up there.

The journey by car is long, and winds through the impressive Andean range through somewhat dizzying and treacherous roads, with plunging views of patchwork-like fields, dry terrain, snow-capped mountains, white waters rivers snaking through polished large pebble rocks. The scenery is beautiful but the car ride is not for the faint-hearted.

Another reason why you shouldn’t take the car: you can only catch the train at 640pm at the hydroelectric station (the schedule was changed just this month), which means you only reach Aguas Calientes at 8, after nightfall! As the car reached the hydroelectric station just a bit before 4, we were stuck there for more than 2 hours, although some people opted to walk to Aguas Calientes along the rail track. Hung out with the friendly Brazilians in my group while we waited for the train. That said, literally, the whole day was spent travelling. If I had taken the train, I would have arrived Aguas Calientes much earlier!

By the time we reached Aguas Calientes, had dinner and waited for the guide to hunt rooms for us to crash in for the night, it was already 10pm and there was nothing to do but go to sleep so that I can wake up at 345am to try and catch the first bus up to Macchu Picchu.

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