South America Day 55 - Machu Picchu Pueblo

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March 4th 2019
Published: March 4th 2019
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Today we are taking the train to Machu Picchu Pueblo. I’m looking forward to this for 2 reasons; (1) it’s the start of our visit to Machu Picchu, one of the 7 Wonders of the World and (2) it’s 2000 m above sea level, that’s a mile lower than anywhere we’ve been in the past 10 days.

Train tickets aren’t cheap - we’ve paid almost £300 - yet a big chunk of the journey consists of a bus replacement service due mudslides making the track impassable.

We leave at 6.15 am, taking a bus to Ollantaytambo 50 miles away. I’m surprised how much of the bus journey involves climbing (most of the first hour, in fact). After an hour we stop at a viewpoint amidst snow capped mountains.

Then we reboard the bus and begin to descend. An hour later we arrive at Ollantaytambo station to board our train. It’s chaos; a group of elderly American cruisers are wandering up and down the tracks while the train is trying to pull in.

Eventually the elderly are sufficiently restrained for boarding to commence. It’s a nice train (ought to be for that price) with panoramic windows to the side and in the roof.

Th train departs on time and makes its way down through the Sacred Valley alongside the raging Urubamba River to Machu Picchu Pueblo. We hug the riverbank with mountains rising steeply on either side. The scenery is amazing. On the far bank we can see hikers following the Inca Trail. We are served a sandwich and a weird fruit whilst listening to Andean pipe music. The old man’s attempt to gain entry to his fruit becomes a spectator sport for all the surrounding passengers.

We reach our destination and walk along the river to our hotel. The river dominates everything - the noise is deafening. We find a riverside restaurant for dinner. The building actually vibrates with the power of the water rushing past. Every now and then the noise and vibrations multiply as another train rattles by.

After dinner we walk round the village. It’s not very big, just a few rows of restaurants and an artisanal market to serve tourists passing through to the main attraction. We purchase the 3 essentials of any trip; beer, postcards and fridge magnet. Then it’s back to the hotel for another early night. We have Machu Picchu tickets for 6 am tomorrow.

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