Machu Picchu Like a Boss

Posted by on Jan 18, 2013 in Peru, Play-by-plays, South America | 1 comment

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Most people know Machu Picchu and have seen the iconic photo, so I won’t ramble too much. There are a few options of doing MP, the most famous is of course hiking the 4-day Inca Trail. That has to be booked months in advance, and we obviously didn’t have the foresight to do that. There are several other trails that can be hiked as well, or you can take the train to Aguas Calientes and hike the 1-1.5 hours UP (straight up) to MP or take a very overpriced bus ($19 round trip). It is rainy season and it seems like the skies open up with a vengeance daily, so we took the bus to minimize our chances of getting soaked.

Most hostels start serving breakfast at 4:30am for those intrepid travelers who want to catch the first bus up at 5:30 and get into MP before all the crowds. We were such intrepid travelers.

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Machu Picchu at 6am is shrouded in clouds, majestic and serene. The midday sun eventually overtakes the site, as well as the massive tour groups so our goal was to get out before the insanity. The busiest time is 10am-2pm and it seems like the rains start promptly at noon, so we planned accordingly. The other benefit of getting there early is hanging out with llamas before their midday nap, but be aware of high chances of unrequited love.

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There are several types of tickets to MP, including 2 types that let you hike up the mountains in the background. Huaynapicchu is the taller of the two mountains behind the ruins. Only 400 people are allowed to hike it each day, 200 in each time group of 7-10 and 10-1. Tickets to that hike go fast. La Montaña is the big mountain you can see from the ruins and from Huaynapicchu. I believe 500 people can hike that so the tickets are more readily available. It is a tougher hike though, and a higher one. You can learn all you need about tickets from the official website. But be aware that buying tickets online probably won’t work with your Visa, even if it is verified so you will either have to plan ahead to buy the tickets at Banco de la Nacion in Peru or book through a tour. Same goes with Peru Rail tickets: you will likely to be able purchase online but will have to stop by a Peru Rail outlet to actually print the tickets.

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We climbed Huaynapicchu because of its “exclusivity” and to check out some of the ruins on top of it as well. You get a great panorama of the MP ruins, Urubamba river below, the winding road from Aguas Calientes, and all the surrounding mountains and begin wondering how and why Machu Picchu was erected at this location. Mostly how.

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After returning to Aguas Calientes, we had a celebratory Pisco sour just in time for the torrential rains to start. Then we boarded the train to Ollantaytambo to explore a bit of the Sacred Valley on our way back to Cusco by bus. Ollanata’s ruins are more fortress like on the hills. The valley itself is very picturesque–verdant green mountains flank the winding river.

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The next morning we took a local bus to Pisac, wandered the streets and decided to not spend money to see the ruins. We did notice that cuyerias are very popular there, and you can choose your dinner!

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We returned to Cusco by another local bus (2-3sol=so cheap!) and got ready for our overnighter to Arequipa (Oltursa for 70soles was awesome).

One Comment

  1. You are lucky to be able to travel. This is a beautiful location.

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