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Visiting the world renowned archaeological site of Machu Picchu has long been on my ultimate wish list. I can’t even describe how thrilled I was when I boarded the 16 hour bus that would take me from Huacachina to Cusco, Peru. All I could think about, was that I should be wandering the famous premises in about 48 hours!
From the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, I boarded a collectivo (peruvian small van) which took me to the small mountain town of Ollantaytambo for $10 USD. The views from the bus window were stunningly beautiful, with landscapes ranging from rustic farm houses and fields, to the towering snow capped Andean mountain range. The air was super clean and crisp, seemingly untouched by pollution, and the sky was an amazing shade of blue.
After being dropped off in the main square, I hoisted my backpack on my shoulders and went about looking for an affordable place to stay. I severely underestimated the task of walking up and down cobbled streets at a seriously high altitude of 2792 metres above sea level.
Just when my lungs were about to burst, I stumbled upon a guesthouse called Full Moon Lodge. For $25 a night, I got a private room with a comfy bed, a nice bathroom and even internet connection! There were hammocks and dream-catchers everywhere and the family dogs were friendly and totally adorable! I freaking loved it.
Early the next morning (around 5am), I woke up, quickly got dressed and hustled to the train station to board the Expedition Train #81 to Machu Picchu. The cost of my round-trip ticket was $130, which was fairly expensive given the relatively short ride.
The train was punctual and interestingly decorated with lots of Andean artwork. A complimentary snack and a drink were served after our departure from Ollantaytambo. Basically, the journey took a little over an hour ,then we were pulling up at the train station in Aguas Caliente (also known as Machu Picchu Town). Aguas Caliente is your typical tourist town, so be prepared to overspend on just about everything.
The last leg to the archaeological site was by a coaster bus which I boarded at the bus terminal for $18.50 USD roundtrip. The road up the mountain was narrow and extremely winding. We were surrounded by dense forest for the entire time, as we climbed our way further and further upwards. There were a LOT of Chinese tourists on my bus, who were fascinated with taking countless snaps of the passing bush. (I didn’t get it!)
Finally!!! I arrived onsite! At this point, I was simply too tired to be adequately excited. I joined a lengthy queue of visitors waiting to enter the grounds, and took the opportunity to give my passport an official Machu Picchu Stamp. I think that’s when it really sank in. I was here!
Stay tuned for an account of my detailed visit, coming up next!