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Published: June 28th 2018
need I say more :)
The day was off to an early start. After picking up our ‘breakfast doggy bags’ we left to catch the bus to Ollantaytambo. It was a brisk 5 minute walk, the sun had not risen yet and there were a bunch of travelers waiting to catch the same bus. After routine checks of our passports and scanning of the tickets we boarded our bus – the first leg of our journey to Machu Picchu. It was very cold and the warm ear-flap knit wear that I purchased the previous day came handy. The bus was comfortable and if not for its foggy windows we could have had a better view. Nevertheless, the drive was scenic and the view, straight out of a National Geographic award winning entry! The bus stopped at Urubamba for a short break and soon continued onto Ollantaytambo. We disembarked quickly and followed the attendant to the PeruRail station where we were to board the Expedition train to Aguas Calientes, the closest town to Machu Picchu
The train journey was an adventure in itself – huge windows on the side and roof of the carriage ensured us a panoramic view of the mountains and rivers,
Alpaca at Urubamba
capture from bus window
providing us gorgeous views of the many gorges and valleys and providing insights into the flora. Unlike air travel, the seating arrangement aboard facilitated easy conversations with fellow passengers and enabled knowledge sharing! Fellow passengers shared information on their journey thus far and the places they had visited (Sacred Valley and Rainbow Mountain) before they boarded the train. As the train chugged along we saw groups of trekkers faraway, those brave souls who chose to take the Inca Trail route to Machu Picchu.
It took an hour and a half to reach our destination, Aguas Calientes also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo – the foothills of Machu Picchu. Unlike Cusco, Aguas Calientes was at a much lower elevation which was indeed a relief and required less acclimatization for comfortable walking. This was such a small town that everything was within walking distance – we walked to the hotel as we were staying overnight(most people who come by train usually leave the same day), put our bags away and headed to catch the shuttle bus to Machu Picchu. We didn’t have time for lunch but once we boarded the shuttle and found that the only available
seats were those on the last bench, we were glad that our stomachs were empty for the lurches that lay ahead! The views along the 30 minute ride were simply spectacular as the bus reached Machu Picchu, the clouds had thinned and the sun was out – it seemed like the Inca gods were looking favorable down upon us 😉
After checking of our passports and tickets we made our way towards the entrance. Mike, our tour guide spoke decent English and guided us through the climb with stops for information sharing, pictures and catching our breath. He shared with us information about the flora and fauna – informed us that the jungles were home to the famous Paddington bears, although these bears were huge, they were harmless and so we would be safe! We’re glad we didn’t see any of them! He mentioned the significance nature played in the lives of the Incas and how nature and the gods were interconnected to enable man to live in harmony. They held the coca plant in great reverence and used three undamaged coca leaves in their offerings to the mountain spirits. Pachamama, mother Earth was the giver of
life and the snake, the puma and the condor were part of the trinity.
The image of Machu Picchu with the mount of Huayna Picchu towering over it will be etched in my mind forever. The ethereal peace and tranquility surpasses any I’ve experienced so far. It left me amazed to think of the masonry of that era and how much symmetry was involved in putting the right size of slabs together. It was an earth moving task and sheer might, willpower and devotion must have been required to build the city for the gods. It’s sad that they had to abandon this to save it from the Spaniards, but when you love something very much, you do learn to let it go - and now, here we are six hundred years later giving the Incas their due.
In conclusion, if I could go back twenty years in time, I would’ve take the Inca trail, halted in Ollantaytambo and hiked up Huayna Picchu 😉
I’ve realized that there is so much more to see and do and the ones who really do so; are the ones who take the road less
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