Just reaching the abandoned site that is Machu Picchu is an achievement in itself. The ruins sit spectacularly perched at the top of a seemingly inaccessible mountain.
Our journey began with the drive from Cusco to Ollantaytambo. After an overnight stay in our chosen budget hostel (selected for its safe parking), we headed to the railway station for our 8.20am train to Aguas Calientes, the village at the base of the mountain. Many pilgrims prefer to walk this path and Inca Trail treks abound in a wide variety of lengths from 1-5 days. We were happy to enjoy the stunning scenery from the train for 1 ½ hours.
From Aguas Calientes (or Machu Picchu Pueblo as it’s also known), we took the 30 minute bus ride to the top. This too can be walked – but at over 3,000m and drizzling rain, it took us about 3 seconds to decide how to get up there! The bus ride was great – a series of switchbacks up the side of a mountain – yes half an hour of switchbacks.
Machu Picchu didn’t disappoint. The scenery surrounding the site is awe inspiring and on the day we visited the clouds and rain simply added to the mysterious aura of the ruins. With terraced fields teetering on the edge sheer cliffs and some incredibly precise stonework in the temples, there was a feast of photo opportunities – until we got too wet! Machu Picchu’s history is just part of the story of the Incas and the impact they had over what became a huge area of western South America. Their power and influence was short and spectacular, and their legacy lives on in places like Machu Picchu.