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« Peru Day 5 - Cusco to Puno by bus | Main | Finally locked that damn knee! »

Peru Day4 - Machu Picchu

Peru Trip day 3 last stop post is here..

On day 4 we were asked again to get up at 4AM. We were to leave the hotel at 4:30AM on a 2 hour car ride to Ollantaytampo train station. Get a short restroom and breakfast break there and leave on a 7AM train to Aguas Caliente, the small town at the base of Machu Picchu. The train ride was almost 2 hours. 

So off we went. It was a scenic drive early in the morning with snow covered mountains for backdrops.

A slide show of pictures from the taxi and train rides..



Once we got into the train after that long drive, we settled in to enjoy more scenery along the way.

It was a Mystic experience, alright! To add to the mysticism, they kept serving coca tea to help with the altitude sickness. 

The train winds its way along the banks of the Urubabma river and the Andes mountains provide a breathtaking backdrop..

Eventually we started seeing terraces and Inca housing and we knew we were close. 

Once at Agua Calientes we were in for a rude shock. Everyone on the train made a mad dash to the bus station. We knew we were to take a bus to the top and meet our tourguide at the entrance to Machupicchu. San and the little one decided to take a "restroom break" in the train station before going on the bus. By the time they came out of the restroom, we were standing in the bus line somewhere in the next town. I was not in a talking mood at that point. It took 5 minutes at a minimum between buses and we were going to be in bus number 15 or so.. Then all of a sudden more buses showed up and after waiting for only 45 minutes, we were on our way up. 

A funny thing happened while we were in line with Jr. debating the merits of taking a break on the train as opposed to on the ground. She suddenly said "there is a guy asking for your name". We all said "seriously, there is a guy saying sundararaman ?" and after a few minutes we had a face palm moment when a guy actually was reading out my name. Turns out jr. was right. The tour guide was also late and he had not made his way up and was trying to find us at the base! Always listen to your kids and take them seriously, especially when they tell you things that sound ridiculous!

We made our way up on an interesting bus ride into the clouds! You can see it in the video below..

Once up there, it was a steep hike from the entrance. I was completely drenched in sweat by the time I made it up on that trek with my camera bag. It was worth it though. The view of Machupicchu just makes you take a deep breath and go "how the hell did they do this up here?" It is truly a wonder of the world!

For a few minutes on the hike I was thinking 'there is a reason this place is on the bucket list for a lot of folks.. but it would be better to put it on the end of the list.. one might hit the bucket just going on this hike!"

Kept clicking photos from every vantage point. Here are some of my favorites..

The rest are in the slide shows below..

We did get two family portraits thanks to our tour guide.. 

After that sweat drenching episode, things took a good turn and my body finally adjusted to the altitude and the hiking. Eventually I put on my new Alpaca sweater that had been purchased the previous day at Chinchero.. 

It started raining after we had spent close to two hours up there. We stood in line for the return bus again for a good 45 minutes and made it down to Aguas Calientes. There were a lot of restaurants on the bus stand but we did not find anything Vegetarian with good quality. Had to settle for some fries and some Mexican food that was too oily. The kids were not happy, but we had cookies, chips and other snacks to fill up and got some Gatorade to go. 

I ran in the rain to get this picture just before heading back to the train station. This small base camp of sorts was beautiful. 

Finally at the train station, we met a lot of our previous tour buddies from before and sat together and chatted for a good hour. Then we said our byes and made it back to Cusco via train and car. When we first boarded the train we were wondering why our tour operator had booked us in the expensive Inca Rail train intead of the cheaper Peru Rail. We found out why on the return. Apparently the government owned Peru rail is cheaper but not reliable. They cancelled the previous train and the train station was packed with folks from two trains scrambling to make it into one! After a 30 minute delay we were on our way back..

That night was going to be our last night in Cusco. So we found a real nice Andean food place, but this time the owner was standing outside the restaurant trying to get customers. He saw me and asked "you are looking for good vegetarian food?" and I said "yes!" and he says "we will custom make whatever you want. just come inside". It was called Ama Lur Restaurante and they made us really good food that we picked from the menu. He even gave us rice and Yogurt! Finally the kids came back to the hotel all happy. 

When we reached the hotel, we got one more piece of good news. We had to get ready only by 5:45 AM the next day instead of 4 something! We were going on a 12 hour bus ride with 5 or 6 stops... that will be the next post!

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