Machu Picchu, Peru
I was extremely excited to finally to be able to visit one of the greatest man made wonders of the world, Machu Picchu. An interesting back story behind this place. Machu Picchu is actually one of the best preservered Inca ruins that was never discovered by the Spanish conquistadors. If you’ve read my previous post, ruins like Chinchero had a lot of Spanish influence where the Spanish conquistadors would reject the Inca’s belief of sun worshiping, deface all of their religious symbols, and build a huge church on the site dedicating it to Catholicism. Machu Picchu on the other hand was so well hidden by the Incas that the Spaniards never made it up to the city and it is left today for us to visit.
While at Arequipa’s airport heading to Cusco, we realized that Tiff forgot to pre-purchase tickets to Machu Picchu! If you aren’t aware, there is a new rule that only 2500 tickets are sold to allow access to Machu Picchu every day. We quickly logged into the official Machu Picchu website to see if any tickets were left and the counter was set to 0. My heart sunk after seeing this as we’ve traveled so far just to see one of the greatest ancient ruins in the world. It’s sad to think that we would have come so close but not be able to see Machu Picchu. I frantically searched the internet for any ticket brokers but none appear to sell any. According to my research, there is no black market for Machu Picchu tickets because all tickets are assigned to your passport when you purchase them. We just had to take our chances when we arrived into town to see what else could be done.
Getting to Machu Picchu itself is a small journey. There’s a few ways of getting there. Either start in Cusco and take a train all way to the base city of Aguas Caliente (this is a 3 hour train ride). You can also drive to Ollantaytambo, which we did, then take the train from there to Aguas Caliente. Another option would be to take the backdoor way through the hydroelectric plant. Taking this way is a cheaper alternative, but it requires more time and a long hike to Aguas Caliente. If you’re more adventurous, there’s also the 4 day Inca trail hike. Before the trains were built, the only way to get up to Machu Picchu would be the 4 day Inca trail hike. It seems like such a rewarding thing to do, but Tiff and I did not have much time (and it seemed a little too hardcore) so we took the train up.
We arrived at our hotel, Tierra Viva, at 11PM knowing that we would need to wake up to 3AM to queue up to see if there would be any tickets available. The lady who initially checked us in at the hotel recognized us at 4AM when we checked out and even questioned us if we got any sleep! Not much at all, however, the excitement of seeing Machu Picchu fueled us for the remainder of the day. Fortunately we were able to buy tickets! I guess they still are able to sell more than 2500 tickets to the site.
Make sure to buy your entrance ticket online as early as possible, that way you don't have to worry about tickets being sold out!Two Peas Travel Tip
The last leg of finally getting up to Machu Picchu is to take the 20 minute bus ride up. We queued up in the huge bus line and by 7AM started on our journey up the mountain.
The bus ride up to the site is about 20 minutes of winding around spiraling up the mountain jungle. We finally reached the top. There is only one hotel on the base of Machu Picchu. It’s super expensive and I heard that it costs around $1000 USD a night. A high price to pay but I guess you’d be the first ones to visit the site without anyone bothering you.
You get a first glimpse of Machu Picchu on your bus ride up. The view has to be one of the most surreal things you’ll ever encounter. It felt like you’re transported into a different world. Kind of reminds me of Avatar a little with all the clouds and mountains surrounding the grand site. The Incas definitely picked an amazing place to build their town.
The first thing we decided to do when we arrived was to take the trek up to the Sun Gate. We were told that this hike provides a really good view of Machu Picchu and the surrounding ruins. It was raining when we arrived but we still managed to make the trek up. It took us about 1 hr 30 minutes.
When we arrived to the Sun Gate, the rain was still going on and the clouds were extremely thick. We didn’t see Machu Picchu at all since the weather was so bad. We stood around with a group of other hikers hoping the fog would subside and was only able to get a small glimpse of it.
After waiting around for a good 30 minutes at the top of the Sun Gate with no signs of the clouds parting, we decided to head back down. If you’ve ever visited Machu Picchu, you’ll see plenty of people with walking sticks to help them navigate the difficult terrain. On our way up, I found a big branch and made my own walking stick.
That walking stick actually helped Tiff from slipping and falling a few times as the rocks were really slick from the rain. Once we got down to base of the hike, we managed to get a better view of the ruins. Here’s a quick timelapse video from the entrance:
Here’s a POV video of us walking around within the ruins, you can see how grand and wonderful it is:
Machu Picchu is definitely an experience of a lifetime. There is so much history behind the ruins and the beauty of the site is awe inspiring. Just make sure you plan ahead and purchase tickets ahead of time so you don’t have to wake up at 3AM in the morning like we did to stand in line. Overall it is one of the most memorable places of our trip so far and I highly recommend visiting it.