Cycling The Globe

A Cycle Touring Expedition Around The World

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Day 1428 – 1429: Machu Picchu

Posted by Thomas Andersen Posted on Aug - 20 - 2014

It was not a completely trivial decision to go to Machu Picchu. A visit there would blow the normal cycling budget to pieces. The question was – would it be worth it? It turned out to be!

Since there is no road to the mountain, most people go to Machu Picchu by train, but that option seemed prohibitively expensive. Then you could take the bus to a valley and hike up the mountain yourself. Apart from the fact that this option was much cheaper, arriving at the magic Inca site by your own power seemed like just the right way to do it.

An early morning we left Cuzco by bus and headed into the mountain. We were driving over a 4300 m pass and then descended into the jungle! This was the first place I had seen such greenery for months! The Altiplano seemed far away. We were soon on a dirt road up another valley.

The first impression was that Machu Picchu is a place that is really hard to get to – something that might explain why site was only discovered as late as 1911.

As the road ended we got out of the bus and started to hike towards Aguas Calientes. It was amazing to be in the jungle again, the smells and sounds seemed very exotic. Our small group (a couple of younger french backpackers and to women from Argentina in their sixties) slowly made it up the valley, and arrived in the village just after dark. It was then time for a quick dinner before heading back to the hostel for the night. We would need to start the hike towards Machu Picchu itself at 4:30 in the morning.

The sun hadn’t rosen yet, as we left the village and headed towards the small track taking you up the mountain. It was not difficult to find the way – you could just follow the steady stream of people heading towards the trail head. They say that a thousand people make their way up to Machu Picchu each morning for the sunrise.

As we got nearer to the entrance the sun was rising, but the mountain was shrouded in fog. At some point it started to rain as well, and I was in doubt if we would be able to get any good views of the place at all. Luckily the sun just needed to gain a little more power before the clouds started to part. What then revealed itself on the green mountain sides was a truly magical sight. Suddenly I was right there, at the entrance of the lost city of Machu Picchu.

Our guide Alex showed us around for the first two hours, explaining the history of the different areas and buildings. You couldn’t help to be impressed with the complexity of the civilization that lived here so many years ago.

Yet, as impressive as the history of Machu Picchu is, I think my favourite part of being there was the location itself. The steep steep hills thick with green jungle was just breathtaking.

As the tour ended we had a couple of hours to explore the rest of the site ourselves. I left the ruins and made the hike to the Puente del Inca, enjoying even more views over the green valleys below.

As I returned to the ruins the trains from Cuzco must have arrived with even more tourists. The site felt truly overcrowded by now. Once the Incas had been the ones walking through the main gate to enter their city – now the tourists were waiting in line.

And so, with a few hours to spare before the bus would leave from the road far far below, I made the last walk through the ruins and started to head down. Another experience richer, and with appetite to visit even more (and hopefully more quiet) Inca ruins on my way north through Peru.

Categories: Peru, Tourist Attractions
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2 Responses so far.

  1. John O2 says:

    That’s my dreamy destination…

  2. Hi John! Thanks for you nice comment. Yes, Machu Picchu in Peru was an important milestone for me as well. Very interesting with all the Inca ruins in that part of the world. Best wishes