A Day Trip to Machu Picchu
While there were many things that I wanted to see while in Peru, my main goal was to see Machu Picchu. I had seen tons of pictures of those magical ruins over the years, and I was absolutely determined to get there in order to see it for myself. Needless to say, I was extremely grateful when I finally got there in July 2018.
Prior to arriving in Cusco, I had booked a tour to Machu Picchu via Viator a couple months prior, so everything was ready to go. All I had to do was make sure I had all my required documents; most notably my passport for entry into the ruins. On the day of the tour, I was picked up from my hotel in Cusco at 3:45am in a van. After making one other pickup from another hotel, it was about an hour drive to the Ollytaytambo Train Station. From there, it would be another train ride to the town of Aguas Calientes, which is located close to Machu Picchu.
Upon arrival at the train station, I was given my tickets for the roundtrip train, the bus to and from Machu Picchu, and the entry into Machu Picchu, and I was told very clearly not to lose anything. Even though it was not even 6am, everything had been running smoothly except for thing. It was a very rainy morning. This was a surprise to me since even though rain does happen at this of the year in Peru, it is usually brief. However, I remained hopeful that the weather would clear up, and that it would not muck up the journey to Machu Picchu. I had often seen beautiful images of Machu Picchu with beautiful skies, and while I desperately wanted the weather to change for the better, I reminded myself not to get my hopes up too much
In order to get to Aguas Calientes, a visitor has a choice of several different train cars (Expedition, Voyager, the 360, and Vistadome) that vary in price. Essentially, the only difference that I was able to determine was the size of the windows and the service in the train cars. When I booked the trip, I initially leaned heavily toward the most expensive option; the 360 and Vistadome since I wanted to get the views. However, I ultimately decided to go with the cheapest, which was the Expedition car.
In the end, it did not matter at all which option was chosen since it was raining the entire time. However, even though I went with the cheapest option, the train car was still very comfortable. Since it was still early in the morning, and the windows were heavily fogged up anyway, there really was not much to see because it was dark for a good portion of the trip, so I took the time to catch up on some sleep and conserve energy for Machu Picchu.
Upon arrival in Aguas Calientes, I got off the train and was greeted by the guide. Since it was still pouring rain, I bought a cheap blue poncho from one of the vendors standing outside the train station. Once everything was sorted with the poncho, myself, the guide, and several other people then headed to the bus where we presented our tickets and settled into a 30 minute ride up a winding road to the entrance of Machu Picchu.
Despite the constant rain, the site was just as crowded although I can assume it is probably double as busy on days when there is no rain. In a way, it was kind of interesting seeing people in pink, red, blue, green, and yellow ponchos wandering through the ruins. Admittedly, I was not particularly happy about the weather. During my time in Cusco, I had been blessed with absolute picture-perfect and comfortable weather. However, in Machu Picchu, it was pouring rain the entire time, and there was hardly ever a break in the weather. Even though this was disappointing, the clouds rolling through the ruins created an otherworldly atmosphere that is a bit different from the typical clear skies that most pictures tend to show, so I am thankful for the unique pictures that I was able to take.
Regardless of the weather, the tour continued albeit at a slower pace, and the guide took us to some of the well-known and popular viewpoints for some beautiful photo ops. After checking out the viewpoints, we also went into the ruins and got to walk around a bit. However, I only wish that there had been a bit more time to explore since there was not much time in the schedule for us to wander around on our own. At the end of the tour, the guide reminded us to get a complimentary Machu Picchu passport stamp before leading us to the bus which headed back down to the town of Aguas Calientes. Upon arrival in Aguas Calientes, we were left to our own devices to explore the town and get something to eat. After getting a small pizza at a cafe, I spent some time wandering the market and town. The most important thing was to make sure that I did not miss our train back to Ollytaytambo.
The train ride back was just as comfortable as the train ride there, but the train arrived a bit later than expected because of a delay which slowed everything down by about an hour. Upon arrival at the station, we were met by a group of shuttle drivers that worked for different tour companies. I found the driver wearing the uniform of the tour company I booked with and followed him. All of the people who had booked with the same company all were taken to our hotels and guest houses. I got back to my hotel in Cusco at around 11:30pm after getting picked up at 3:45am. All told, it was an extremely long day, but an absolutely worthwhile one since I finally got to see Machu Picchu for myself. This had been a goal of mine for several years, and it finally happened. I knew it would happen eventually, and it did.
Please enjoy the photo gallery! All photos were taken by me using a DSLR and iPhone.