Monday, June 30, 2008

Machu Pichu

This weekend, I went to the wonderful and beautiful Machu Picchu. Talk about the trip of a lifetime (and a trip everyone should make in their lifetime!).

Katie, Natalie, and I left early Saturday morning since our train left at 6. We were picked up by someone from our travel agency at 5 and took a taxi to the train station. Things went smoothly there and we were able to board our train with time to spare. We had upgraded our train tickets since the Backpacker train was sold out but for the extra thirty dollars we definitely got our money worth. The train reminded me a lot of first class in an airplane and was a nice way to make the trip. It was infinitely better then the bus ride to Lake Titicaca.
When we arrived at Aguas Calientes we were met at the train station by someone from our hotel. We took a short walk through town and arrived at a nice hotel with view overlooking the city. Aguas Calientes is a very disorganized town that was created to handle the influx of tourists to Machu Pichu. Despite its run down appearance it still is beautiful since it is completely surrounded by the Andes Mountains. Absolutely gorgeous.

After we settled into the hotel we decided to walk around the town and see what we could find. We found the main plaza and had the lunch we had packed that morning (bread, a can of tuna, fruit and crackers). We went looking for some trails that we had read about in my guide book but were unable to find any of them. Regardless, I think we walked on almost every street in Aguas Calientes. After doing a bit of shopping, we were exhausted but still had a lot of time to kill before our Machu Pichu guide was going to meet us to explain what we should expect the next day. We found a restaurant that played movies for free and enjoyed a boot legged copy of Ocean´s 13. I fell asleep for a good part of it.

After the movie we walked back to the hotel to relax and freshen up before meeting our guide and going out for supper. I enjoyed one of my first hot showers in almost four weeks and vowed to stay in the shower until I ran out of hot water. It was an excellent thirty minutes.

Around 7:30 we met our guide, who informed us that we need to be in the main plaza by 5:30. She gave us a little more information and then we headed to a restaurant we had read about in my guidebook. We enjoyed our three course meal for 15 soles (around five dollars) and returned to go to bed early. I was sleeping by 10.

The next morning we woke up at 4:30 (again!) and staggered upstairs for the continental breakfast. It was mainly fruit and bread but the best part was freshly squeezed orange juice. We then checked out of the hotel and arranged for our bags to be delivered to the train station.

We met up with our group in the main plaza and then walked over to the bus station. The buses were a lot nicer then I had expected, which is good since the drive up to Machu Pichu is steep and sometimes dangerous. The road is only one lane in most places and if a bus meets another bus or car one of them has to back up to a place where the road is wide enough and allow the other one to pass. A bit scary at first! The ride was absolutely gorgeous and breathe taking. The twenty five minute ride went by quickly as I sat in awe thinking about the beauty around me.

When we arrived at Machu Pichu our group was split into two groups, English speaking and Spanish. We were then given a two hour tour of the ruins, including the opportunity to see the sun rise over the mountains. It´s hard to describe how beautiful the ruins are or how immense they really seem in real life. I took A LOT of pictures but am unfortunately having problems uploading any of them. So until I can figure that out all I can say is that I was not disappointed by what I saw.

When our tour ended around 10, Natalie, Katie, and I sat and had a quick snack and just soaked in some of the beautiful views. We then took a very complicated walk to the restrooms and then walked back to the entrance to Waynu Pichu. We got in line in order to be let into the second group of people to climb the mountain. Only four hundred people are allowed to climb Waynu Pichu each day and we didn´t want to miss our chance. We were pretty safe because when we signed in we were hikers numbers 201, 202, and 203.

The hike up Waynu Pichu is steep and sometimes dangerous. It took us over an hour (which is pretty average) and involved a ridiculous number of steps and a cave in which I pretty much had to slide on my stomach. When we reached the top the views made it totally worth it as did the sense of accomplishment that we all felt. We enjoyed the views, took some awesome pictures, and then headed back down. The trip back down was equally (if not more dangerous) at points since some of the steps were very little and steep. At one point, we even had to just slide down part of the rock face!

After our trip down from Waynu Pichu we found a nice place in the sun and had our lunch (which was identical to lunch from the day before). We then took a break and soaked in the sun, marveling at the fact that we were sunbathing at Machu Pichu. When we finally regained our energy went and did some exploring around the residential section of MP before Katie and I had to catch a bus back to Aguas Calientes.

The trip home was fairly uneventful and we arrived home, had supper, and went straight to bed!

The famous, postcard photo of Machu Pichu. The big mountain in the background is Waynu Pichu, the one I climbed.

Machu Pichu ruins. 60 percent of the city is still intact and 75 percent of what you see is original Incan architecture.

The Andes are goregous!

Natalie, me and Katie when we were almost to the top of Waynu Pichu

Me on the very very top of Waynu Pichu. You can see the ruins of Machu Pichu to the left.

We were very tired after our long day...

In case anyone is thinking that I´m spending all of my time traveling off to ancient ruins, or going to festivals and fairs, I wanted to post some before and after pictures from the work we´ve been doing at the orphanage.

It was Fuzz´s birthday on Sunday and I didn´t want her to think I had forgotten about her. So, for Fuzz... HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

On the train...

In Aguas Calientes...
At Machu Pichu... And on the top of Waynu Pichu...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, Beth! I admire your climb! I can imagine that was difficult. Hope you are doing well! Aunt Jane