Our group ran form the tour shuttle to catch the train to Aguas Calientes, the local town serving as our base for our much anticipated visit to this world-famous the Incan citadel for the following day. We were late departing Cusco and if we’d missed the train we didn’t really have a Plan B. (walking the 43km Inca Trail to the ruins wasn’t an option!)
“We’re not going to be able to see a thing!”, cried Geoffrey as we pulled into the station. “Why did we have to come in the raining season?” Later in the afternoon Geoffrey’s face was as dark as the weather as we sat in our hotel room. He had earlier slipped on some tiles outside a local restaurant and badly cut his left shin which required stitching. I told him he was lucky he wasn’t on crutches…
But our luck changed – the next day was perfect. There was enough high cloud and mist to provide the dramatic backdrop for the ruins and the mountains. The rain stayed away and never threatened.
We left early to beat the inevitable crowds, to get the best photo opportunities and to beat the heat for later in the day. As with the train trip the previous day, the landscape scenery during the bus ride from the town to the ruins was spectacular.
Viewing Machu Picchu for the first time is mind-blowing. You see all the photos beforehand, do all the reading, but it is nothing like seeing it for yourself. After the very interesting and informative tour there was the opportunity to do some walks within the valley before lunch. Some of us elected to hike the Sun Gate hike. This is final part of the Inca trail and takes around 3 hours (return trip). It’s a steady climb on a good path and requires average fitness. Those who may have been struggling with the altitude will find it tougher.
There was a welcoming buffet lunch at the end of the hike and then the bus back to town, and then the long trip back to Cusco.
The following day it absolutely bucked down in Machu Picchu. A couple of days later continual heavy rain caused a nearby bridge to collapse and 16 people were swept away.
So, all in all, I’d say we were very lucky …
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