At 5:00, the alarm clock rings. We slept and got ready for breakfast at 5:45. We are not the only ones in the restaurant, everyone looks sleepy – also the coffee helps only conditionally.
At 6:30 we got picked up and got driven to the train station, where we wait again – you have to be at least 30 minutes before the arrival at the station…. why???
At 7:05 the announcement that you have to show the tickets. So a long queue is formed, first the passes / passports are checked and then the tickets stamped – and one may continue to wait.
Against 7:25 a new announcement: “Please stop for boarding”. Before you can enter the station, the tickets will be viewed again and you will be directed to the right or the left depending on the wagon. Seems it they beleave it is to complicated for customers to find there wagon – they are numbered with A to D which is also big printed onto the ticket… At the entrance to the wagon are two employees, one collect the ticket and the other verifies our names on a list. Within the train we where allowed to find our seats without additional help! Really!
The train is quite nice, only a little tight – you can imagine as in an airplane. Fortunately, it´s only 100km, so it can not take so long, right?
Then again an announcement – similar to an airplane: Where the emergency exits and the toilets are located. Do not hold anything out of the window (interesting due to the fact: the where not able to open at all!). Last and worst: “the drive is about 3:30 hours for only 90km!”. Ok, so we’ll have to stay longer than expected.
The journey goes through a charming landscape, which is interrupted again and again by small villages.
Then a breakfast was served. The used service car looks exactly like an airplane. Through the hot drinks and the almost full wagon all windows begin to fog. Why the existing ventilation is not switched on remains a secret!
The first part of the journey goes through a more or less wide valley, then comes a narrow section and suddenly we go back again! An announcement is explaining why: “The train races back and forth over a distance of a few kilometers in a zig-zag, in order to climbe 40 meters to reach the bottom of the valley.”. We continue along the sides of vertical walls, and the valley becomes slightly wider again, when we see houses again.
With us it goes downhill continuously! Cusco is about 3.400 meters above sea level, after about 1:30 hours we are about 500 meters lower – Machu Picchu is about 1,000 meters below Cusco.
Suddenly we see “capsules” hanging on a mountain wall – this is a hotel! If you want to stay there, you have to climb about 100 meters almost vertically up! Surely interesting for mountaineers, but not for standard guests.
Slowly we cross the Urubamba River and continues to the only one stop along the way: Ollantaytambo.
Here there is an archaeological park, irrigation, many terraces and the start of the 4 day Inca Trail to Machu Pucchu. The last few free seats gets now completely occupied.
Continue towards Machu Picchu Pueblo – as it has been called recently. In Google Map one finds the old name Aguas Calientes. The journey still will last another 90 minutes…
After a short time we could see the Inka Trails and the group (there is a daily limit how many can go here), which started today.
The closer we get to Machu Picchu the more the landscape changes from a dry upland towards damp forest regions to the jungle.
At last we have arrived. Now we are standing in line waiting for the bus – if we are lucky, we have to wait “only” an hour.
Considering that there is a maximum of 2,500 people receive a ticket for one day, this is not showing good organization!
Standing in the queue they did a check-up of the bus tickets – of course with the verification of the passpords … 30 minutes later – still in queue – the tickets for Machu Picchu were verified.
After a 25 minutes bus ride (about 12:20) we are finally there. Before the entrance we meet our guide, show up the tickets and of course the passports – without this apparently works nothing at all in peru!
After a short consultation with the guide, we know that we have just over two hours time – clearly less than we hoped.
Then we go through the city. The guide tells us the purpose of the different buildings – it is simply breathtaking!
It is almost unbelievable what was done here. Fruit and vegetables were cultivated on the terraces. For some beans it is not high enough here (about 2,600 meters). These grow only further up, for example around Cusco – and had to be delivered with lamas.
Actually, we wanted to go to a restaurant in Machu Picchu Pueblo, but all on the way to the train station where completely crowded. So we went directly to the station, which is however a challange, since the way to the station is a labyrinth of shops and there are no signs where to go!
Was it worth (stress and cost of 900 euros)?
The answer is yes, but with a bad taste – the price is much to high for the offered service!
Without the long waiting times for the buses we would have had not only two hours – which is definitely not enough – for seeing Machu Picchu!
There should be enough time to process the impressions in peace.