Sunday, March 17, 2013

Macchu Picchu

There are two way to get to Macchu Picchu. Take a bus, then the PeruRail train from Cusco or hike. Some people take on the Inka Trail, a multi- day experience. I decided to ride the highways to Santa Maria, then climb the dirt mountain roads to Santa Teresa for the night. The road from Santa Maria was hair raising. It reminded me of the Death Road of Bolivia, but rougher and with less traffic. There were several swollen stream, each increasingly tested my courage and resolve to make it across.

The next morning its a short ride further to the hydroelectric plant, 20 minutes from Santa Teresa, where motorcycles can be stored for 5 Peruvian Soles a day. Next, a hike along the train tracks for 11 kilometers to Aguas Calientes, the town the lies in the valley below Macchu Picchu.

Along the way there is a raging river, birds, jungle, rail road bridges, hostels, small restaurants, a camp ground or two and an assortment of international backpackers.

The Rio Urubama is incredibly power force. I jokingly said to myself, “Surf’s up!” In fact, it would be certain death to anyone that went into these waters.

And there are snails along the way too.
Some choose to take the train from the hydro-electric plant. Here is the schedule (as of March 17, 2013) The service is limited. I went the wrong way out of Santa Teresa and lost 40 minutes going to a little village that is not on the way to Macchu Picchu. That lost time made me miss the 1:30 PM train back to the hydro-electric plant, so I walk back, another 11 kilometers…
Entrance to the Macchu Picchu archeological site is limited to 3500 people a day. When I bought my ticket onsite, over 3000 tickets had been sold. In  high season get your ticket in advance. From Aguas Calientes some brave souls hike 45 minutes up the steep road to the site. A hike up the final leg to Macchu Picchu is not just a workout, it’s a test of nerves. There are buses constantly moving tourist up and down the switch back roads, and they waste no time moving bodies up and down that slope. The line from Steely Dan’s Don’t take me Alive, comes to mind, “Luckless pedestrian…” I elected to buy a bus ticket.

Classic Macchu Picchu photo with tourist
Peru - Maccchu Picchu - the money shot
Classic Macchu Picchu photo without tourist

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