Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Peru Trip Day 5

Friday October 28, 2011

Wake-up call at 4:30 am. Suitcases out at 5:15 am. Departure at 6:00 am.
The train from Ollantytambo to Aguas Calientes leaves at 7:00 am. We are supposed to be at the train station at 6:35 am.

Don't you love train stations? The hustle and bustle.

And the vendors.

So interesting to see the landscape go by.

Somewhere in these clouds is La Veronica, the highest mountain in this region.

The whole time we are going along the Urubamba River.

If you would like to see a little video click here  and  here.

We even get a snack.
The wagon has windows even in the roof.
The train stopped briefly because a few got off to join the Inka Trail here, over the bridge and up the mountain on the other side.

After 1 1/2 enjoyable hours we reach Aguas Calientes, the train station for Machu Picchu. We have a very short walk to our Hotel where we have to wait a little for Sheila to make arrangements for us. Talking with others in our group the subject for some strange reason is good luck charms and guardian angels. James shows his guardian angel Helen stitched for him many years ago and who always lived in his briefcase for all his travels. He had transferred it to the back pack.

It is too early for our rooms so our belongings go into safe storage and we are off. We walk to the bus stop for the 20 minute ride up the steep road to Machu Picchu.

And soon we have our first glimpse of this magnificent site. First things first: a picture with us and Cuy, Williams new friend.
Here is what Odysseys itinerary had to say about this:

Machu Picchu, the fabled "Lost City of the Incas." This ancient city in the clouds defies imagination - and seemingly, the laws of gravity, physics, and architecture. Perched in a

high saddle surrounded by Andean peaks, it was virtually intact when discovered in 1911 by adventurer Hiram Bingham. Because the Inca did not have written language, there is only speculation about the origins of Machu Picchu. Some claim it wasn't a city at all, but rather a royal and religious retreat built in the mid-1400s and abandoned a century later because of war and smallpox. Regardless, the precise masonry here is astounding; the setting, breathtaking. Our guided tour introduces us to the wonders of this UNESCO World Heritage site, which encompasses five square miles of terraced stonework linked by 3,000 steps.

And the condor I had bought earlier.

Fernando, our guide, explains many things with enthusiasm and knowledge. It is so interesting.

This must have  been a royal mummy chamber. It's underneath the temple.
The craftsmanship is unbelievable. Look at that door.

Everything laid out to perfection with irrigation and drainage.

See the lizard?

The royal chambers.




View onto the half-round temple.

Every building had three windows. Must have been important. The view was often very important too.

Existing boulders were incorporated into the structure.

There was a little garden and in it a coca plant. A very straggly looking one.

We climbed higher on the way to the observatory. Here was a temple with three sides and open to a square.

Reached the top of the observatory with view to Wayna Picchu (meaning "Young Peak"). If you would like to more about it  click here.

Opposite the view to Machu Picchu (meaning "Old Peak"). For more about it  click here.
This seemed to be a very important astronomical area. This stone was carved out of one piece and perfectly alined north, south, east, west. 
This was funny. I watched the workers for a brief moment. One was bending down tamping the floor, the other was spreading water of the dusty dirt. When he was close to his collect he pored some water into the back of his pants.

This is another stone perfectly alined to N S E W. James checked it with his iPhone. Later we found another stone like it on a different level. Fernando had not known about that one.

A llama astray.
After some exhausting climbing around we go back to the entrance were we have lunch.

Some go back to the hotel with Sheila. But those who want can stay for a second entry with Ferdinand.

James and I opted to stay. I don't know whether I can make it all the way up to the guard house, but I would like to try.

So much to see.

So many steps. Steep steps. Very uneven steps. And of course, not to forget the altitude.

Odysseys had arranged it very cleverly. We started in Lima, flew to Cusco (which is very high) were we didn't stay but went to the lower Sacred Valley right away to acclimatize. Sheila kept telling us to drink lots of water ... and Mate de Coca. Soroche (altitude sickness) seemed to affect most of us in one way or another. I am very happy that besides awful heachaches the first two days I am coping very well. For more info  click here.  Mate de Coca really seems to help.

Clever viaduct.

Cuy enjoys a postcard view. And there is a funny story here. When I was taking the photo a young lady got all excited and wanted to take a photo too ... until she realized it was NOT a live animal. She looked so embarrassed.

Fernando insisted on taking photos of each couple on this rock. The group had to have some fun. After all, we are on vacation.

Fernando arranging somebody on the "photo rock".
Next to the guard house is a carved altar.
The guard house.

Fernando did more picture taking. He should have told us to move a little to the left (our right).
We have seen many of the Inca terraces all over, and they have these clever steps built into the walls.
After a long day of beautiful weather, suddenly it turned and even started raining. Sheila kept telling us again and again to always take our rain gear.

Machu Picchu closes at 5 and it almost was that time so we headed to our hotel. Of course we have to take the bus ride down. Oh, sometimes you almost can't look out of the window because you look straight down and wonder where the bus' wheels are. But of course the drivers are very experienced. He has to handle 18 switchbacks.
Finally we can get into our room which is incredible. Rain gear and proper clothes and shoes had protected us from the downpour but still, the hot shower felt sooooo good.

Well, I tried it ... guiney pig. It was without bones and tasted a little like corned beef. Sheila says, it depends how it is prepared. It is o.k. I would not really call it a delicatessen.

The dessert makes up for it.

The hotel grounds looked very nice in the evening too. Fireplaces were going everywhere and we even got a complimentary Pisco Sour. I forgot to take pictures.

James is planning to get up next morning very early. He wants to hike all the way to the Sun Gate Entrance, which is the entrance to Machu Picchu from the Inca Trail.


  1. Breathtaking! I can't believe you did all that climbing. You are my hero, Christa!