After visiting several agencies I finally booked a trip to the famous Machu Picchu for $140. It is not a trek where I will spend several days walking, like on the overrun Inkatrail. I decided to do just a two day trip, the cheapest way possible. My first idea was to do it all on my own without using the expensive train (roundtrip from Cuzco: $96, from Olyantambo: $32) for that you need to buy a ticket in advance. But the buses seem to be very few to Santa Teresa, from where you can take a collectivo (mini bus) to the Hidroelectrica, where another train to Machu Picchu departs($8). But you can also walk the way which should take around 2h.
Since time was running out and the fact that I would do this adventure more likely with somebody else, I accepted the offer from the Peru World Agency, that used the same route and payed everything inclusive three meals. For the entrance you already have to pay $43 if you are no student and those times are already over for me.
At 7am I waited for being picked up but it almost got 8 o’clock till somebody showed up. There was a little change and I couldn’t be informed but still it seemed to me a bit unorganized first. However they excused the delay and shortly afterwards I sat in a quite nice bus with six other explorers heading north-west on a six hour ride.
We had several stops to look at the mountains and to move our feet. The road, first asphalt then gravel and sand, was winding up and down the mountains. I even got a bit motion sick, but a guy from the States, Michael, helped me with a chewing gum. There were people from the States, England, Canada and Peru present and it was a good mixture.
While driving to Santa Teresa a construction worker waved at us while we passed him at “full speed”. With both hands he waved again as if to warn us. We drove on seeing shortly afterwards a bunch of construction workers on the far other side of the valley, waving at us, too. This time we stopped, the men still trying to say something. We went backwards when the men suddenly made a “move on”-motion with their arms. Confused we drove again forward, the construction workers disappearing in the dust. Nothing much happened afterwards, only that the road was partly very narrow and we were very close to the edge, from where there would be no return to this world, once we crossed this line. I think this actually must be more impressive than the Death Road you can “visit” (or better cycle down) in La Paz.
In Santa Teresa we had lunch and switched the bus, since the locals wouldn’t pass us. They all want to have a little piece of the big cake and so we had to spend some minutes in a small uncomfortable bus. Shortly before we got to the train station at Hidroelectrica, we had to registrate at a little office along the street.
The train was standing and waiting for us to enter, however no seats were available for that 40 minutes ride. It was half past four and the train slowly moved forward, then backwards and then forward again. Sometimes it stopped to pick up some people along the track.
In Agua Caliente we went to our hostal and had two hours off before dinner would be served. We spent the time by walking through this little touristy city. Many restaurants had special offers and Happy Hour all day long. I was surprised that it was so cheap there. Thanks to the offers (6 beers/20 soles and 4 cocktails/15 soles) we stayed at one restaurant and time passed quickly.
Having Dinner late and buying some (cheap) things for the following day, I went to bed after 11pm. At 4am I got up to have breakfast, so that we could start walking up to Machu Picchu at 4:30am. (Too) many stairs lead up this mountain and we went in quite a fast pace. A bit more than an hour we needed to arrive to the entrance … me, as I had bathed in sweat (please don’t imagine it!).
More than fifty people already were waiting in line and more buses arrived. At 6am the gate opened and some people actually ran into the site. How ridiculus is that, I thought. Later I found out that there’s only a limited number of people allowed to another section, up to the hill … But still I found it stupid!
It was already dawn and we walked to the watch tower, where we would meet our guide. Finally arrived there the sun was beginning to rise. I already took a lot of picture from the site, but when the golden light of the sun came over Machu Picchu the view was overwhelming. It was difficult to get the whole site onto the pictures with my camera but it worked. That was when I saw a man standing next to me with a wide angle lens. I gave him my admiration and also told him: “Oh … you also have a Canon camera …”. A little while later he had his amazing lens in his hands ready to give it to me. In exchange he received my zoom lens and quickly I took some more pictures this time not having any problems to fit Machu Picchu onto the foto.
Our guide finally arrived and started talking and talking. First it was funny how he talked, but it also became annoying, when he was telling us: “Come, come, amigos and amigas, taking pictures, pictures, come, come …” He led us around two hour until we had some time on our own. However we were too exhausted to discover more and instead we looked for a green spot to lay down.
At 11 o’clock we returned to the entrance where we could get a stamp (for free) of Machu Picchu into our passports. Then we took a bus down to Agua Caliente which cost $7. One bus was included in my trip, but not for the others of the group. It’s really important that it is written on your bill if you want the money back!
Then we went all the way back that we came the day before. In Santa Teresa we got a crappy bus and they wanted to push more and more people into it. We refused to accept it and succeeded. The drive was long, especially the first hours on the bumpy road. A lonely child that also was in the bus on his way to Cuzco got sick during the ride and even had to vomit.
At around 9pm we were back in Cuzco and I had this problem with my hostal “Carmen Alto” that I described in my Cuzco post. After solving this problem I went to the bar Okukus, which is quite popular in Cuzco. Every day they offer live music from 10:30pm (or better 11pm) and happy hour all day (even if the sign doesn’t say). So you’ll get two drinks for the price of one, otherwise it would be too expensive there.
Although I was tired from the trip I had to go there, because a girl I met in Trujillo recommended me to see that group that plays on Tuesdays. On the way to the bar I met my friends from France, including their uncle and aunt. Great! I asked them to join me and after seeing off their relatives we went together to the bar. Michael, a guy who also was on the Machu Picchu trip, also joined in.
The music of this band (the name I don’t know anymore) was really interesting and they made a big show with fire on the stage and so on. After a while I got hungry however and I, Romain and Christelle left to have a little snack (I actually had a great cake!). And then it already was time for my (new) bed.