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Published: July 24th 2009
What an up and down experience Machu Picchu turned out to be !!!!!!
The Good. We had our best mountain journey yet from Cuzco to Hydroelectric. The first part to Urubamba was pretty spectacular, but was nothing compared with what came between Urubamba and Sta Theresa. The climb out of Urubamba was like an alpine pass - well made roads with hairpin bend after hairpin bend, and great views down the valley. After reaching the pass at just over 4300m the road descends just like going up until suddenly it's just a dirt track, but a fairly wide one. The really interesting bit started when we took the Sta Theresa turning off the main road, this is a single track dirt road cut into the side of a mountain with a vertical or almost vertical drop of hundreds of metres just centimetres away, fantastic !!!!!! the only downside was that we weren't sitting on the side of the bus right next to the edge, but it was great anyway.
The Very Very Bad. The novelty of the Peruvian “couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery with glasses provided” organisational ability is now starting to wear thin and it's beginning to
piss me off. This tour is a perfect example. We didn't want to take an organised tour, but when we tried to book the train tickets from Cuzco to Machu Picchu on Sunday the first availibility was for Wednesday !!! so organised tour it was :-( the first f**k up was at lunch which was included but where the numbers didn't add up, this slowed things down so much we almost missed the train which is the last leg of the journey. In Machu Picchu Village things got worse, we were taken to the wrong hostel, the entrance tickets weren't there, nor were the return train tickets !!!!! everything got sorted in the end but it's just so much hard work for what should be easy. In future it's DIY whenever possible.
The (Not So) Ugly. Lonely Planet describes the town at the entrance to Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes, as “the ugliest most overpriced small town in Peru”, it's expensive - which you have to expect, but we've seen uglier small towns.
The Absolutely Amazing !!! :-). Machu Picchu was everything we expected and more. We wanted to have the whole experience so got up at 3am to hike up
Up Wayna Picchu
Worth all the effort.
to the entrance to be in the first 400 people who can get a ticket to climp up Huayna Picchu - the system is great, to make sure the tickets go to the right people people you have to be there yourself, the tickets are checked against passports. The hike to the entrance is pretty tough, but pretty cool - it's high and steep, and at 4 am dark, but is lit by the torches of the other people climbing it. The main entrance opened at 6am and we headed to the Huayna Picchu gate to get our ticket for later, that's when we got our first view of the city itself, it took our breath away - no words or pictures can describe it, it's amazing. As the sun came up we watched the mountains, valleys and sky change colour, and started to warm up - it's cold at that time in the morning. About 11am we started our climb up Huayna Picchu, it's about 250m higher than Machu Picchu and is very steep, in places it's a real scramble and we needed the ropes and handles to pull ourselves up. The views from the top are worth every
Viewed from Wayna Picchu.
ounce of effort and sweat it takes to get there. Between about 8am and 1pm it's very busy, after we came down Huayna Picchu it was much quieter and we spent the rest of the day exploring with not so many other people around, fantastic. We hiked back down the same trail we'd hiked up 12 hours earlier. We'd been so engrossed we'd had nothing to eat all day, but only when we left did we start to feel hungry. This is a place everybody should see once in their lives, it's truly a wonder of the world.
Next we're going to Nazca to see the lines.
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