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Published: July 19th 2013
Not too early to smile!
The bus from Puno to Cusco was 7 hours, a lovely ride through lush green valleys following winding rivers along the way. We had two days to orientate ourselves and confirm our bus-train and entry tickets for Machu Pichu.
It was a 1 3/4 hour bus ride to the train station to catch the 2 hour train to Aguas Calientes. The journey was beautiful and we booked the train with windows in the roof so you can fully appreciate the scenery. The vegetation changed to more lush and tropical as the altitude lowered following the river Vilcanota. This is the region where the Andean spectacled Bear lives, no bear sightings but we saw so many orchids, over 250 different varieties can be found in the Machu Pichu valleys.
Aguas Calientes was once a tiny village consisting of workers from the nearby hydroelectric plant, but today it is a mass of hotels and restaurants servicing the 2500 people a day who visit machu Pichu. We got up early the following morning to catch the 5.30am bus up to Machu Pichu (only 25 mins up a steep winding path). We were hoping to catch the sunrise but it was too overcast.
One of the many orchids around here.
It was worth getting up early just to see the ruins before it got too busy, by 10am the site was packed with tour groups.
It is an interesting site perched on top of a mountain surrounded by mountains. Undiscovered by the conquistadors and therefore preserved, it is wonderful to see the stonework and imagine what life would have been like in this most famous of Inka sites. Lots of theories abound as to the purpose of Machu Pichu, some think it was a working ciy in the middle of an important trade route, some think it was the palace of royalty and others that it was a religious site. We have downloaded Hiram Binghams book to read about what he thought when he was lead there by local indiginous people in 1911.
The next day we visited a butterfly sanctuary and followed the train tracks to a waterfall whilst killing time waiting for the train back to Cusco.
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So envious!! This is where I've always wanted to go.