A symbol of Peru, there is something about Macchu Picchu that makes everyone so drawn to it. A sense of mystery, a secret location in the midst of steep mountains, or its Inca origins – it remains an enigmatic magnet that attracts many to Peru each year.
Travelling overland from Bolivia to Peru, the landscape changed drastically and so did the air. Green pastures surround us at Macchu Picchu, contrasting with the bright multi-hued traditional costumes of the locals. Llamas graze the land, swaying their brown bosoms in the historical ruins.
How to get to Macchu Picchu
To get to Macchu Picchu, we chose to book a private bus trip (US$80 including 1 night’s stay) in Cuzco. There are no roads that lead to the nearest city, Aguascalientes, where most travelers are based at. The bus actually brings you through winding and unpaved mountain roads, leaving you at Hidroelectrico to catch the train to Aguascalientes. The bus trip itself was quite a funny adventure, with many passengers throwing up as we hit the winding roads.
Alternatively, the more popular option is to catch a train direct to Aguascalientes from Ollantaytambo, just 2 hours from Cuzco. It’s quite an attractive little town where few backpackers also choose to spend the night at. From here, it’s a costly but short train ride to Aguascalientes.
Waking up at 3a.m. like every other traveler, we were racing up to the peak to see the ruins by 4.30a.m. The entrance to Macchu Picchu opens at 5a.m., but everyone is eager to get the first peek. It was a mad dash as everyone raced through the ruins to get into the Wayna Picchu line. Many talk about the panoramic view atop Wayna Picchu, the taller mountain standing next to Macchu Picchu. Only a certain number of tickets are given out for the 10am climb, so many backpackers race to grab the tickets. Absurd as it sounds, it was almost like the Amazing Race, except you didn’t get to win $1million.
What amazes me about Macchu Picchu is its location on the peak of a mountain. Walking through the ruins involves lots of climbing steep slopes. The entire area sprawls across the mountaintop, but the area can be rather narrow. From the edges, take a look down and you can see the foot of the mountain in the far distance. A fall would definitely be fatal.
We found llamas wandering around the foot of the ruins, and it was quite an experience mingling with them and just getting to see these animals upclose and personal.