One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Peru. Yes, that’s right, I’m that annoying tourist but I also want to emphasise that it wasn’t the only reason I wanted to go to Peru. After all, The Emperor’s New Groove played a huge part in my influence to go too..!
We left Lima on the 12 November and started a 22 hour bus journey to Cusco! We had gone to the supermarket and stocked up on snacks (including olives which we then found out weren’t supposed to be transported so sorry for the smuggling Peru). It was the most luxurious bus journey I’ve ever been on where the seats fully reclined and screens on the back of the seats in front of us. We were fed too! It was incredibly comfortable as you can see from the evidence below:
Of course, you could do Lima to Cusco in a 1 hour flight but then you don’t get views like this on the way:
Notice those roads in the pictures? I thought Suffolk country roads were bad..! I was doing well with the journey until I went to the bathroom and got disorientated which led to the first bout of sickness. Lovely.
We arrived in Cusco and got a taxi to Ollantaytambo. This village about an hour away from Cusco has the train station that would take us to Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu. Ollantaytambo was a sweet little village and on reflection I would have stayed there another day to explore the place a bit.
I mentioned briefly in the LiMo Lima post about the drama of the Machu Picchu strike and how I had to faff about to change tickets and such. IncaRail – you lovelies for automatically swapping our tickets for us and BOO to the Machu Picchu ticketing office. Anyway, we were up super early and ready to see the magnificent sight of Machu Picchu.
This is IncaRail! We didn’t do the trail as I had very little time in S. America and Alicia had been recovering from a car accident for a year and the trek would have been no good for her legs. The train was very sweet and we got a free drink on the train too!
The train took 90 minutes and again we had lovely views. However, when we arrived we could not have predicted what we then experienced in Aguas Calientes. There were a monumental amount of people and all very pushy. I realise Machu Picchu was going to be incredible but everyone needed to chill out a bit. We knew we had to take a bus up the hill and when we went to the bus ticket office we were horrified by the cost of the bus. $24 for a return. That’s right. $24 for 2 lots of 30 minute journeys. The queuing system was also bordering on horrific.
The road up was pretty horrendous and just when the whole ticketing system couldn’t push us over the edge, our bus broke down halfway up the hill.
In truth, I took these photos in purpose for this blog. Are you entertained by our faces? Because you should be.
After a while we made it to the top. “Hooray, it’s time!” We thought. But only our optimism starting to fall when we saw the queue for getting onto the site…
It was sad because I obviously was really keen to get inside but the faff and expense was nothing like I had experienced at any touristy place. We then made it through the entrance and saw Machu Picchu for the first time!
What this photo doesn’t show are the extreme number of people behind me with selfie sticks. It was a slightly horrifying sight because I got the feeling it was the main reason a lot were going to visit it.
Anyway, we were mildly guilty of this but only mildly. Lies, I’m a complete hypocrite in this circumstance. ALL THE PHOTOS. Alicia tried to take a photo of me but she had a bug on her arm so I saved her life which caused the first photo to be taken. I then saw the photo and thought it was hilarious and then she took the second which is an amazing photo!
And then because neither of us had a ghastly selfie stick I tried to take a photo of both us using my camera and here are my failed attempts of trying to get a photo of us and MP in the background. I might as well be honest about the extremity of the photo taking.
We headed down the stairs of the ruins and I would just like to say now that these were the most ridiculous (and dangerous) stairs I’ve ever walked down. Poor Alicia with her bad knee!
After climbing down the stairs we spotted LLAMAS! They were super gorgeous and very fluffy. But in a sad state of selfie mad millenials, there was a queue to have a selfie with a llama. I really hated to get involved but I couldn’t not because it’s a llama.
I like to think the llamas get a lot of attention and are fed incredibly well. They are super cool guys!
On a complete side note, during this time Alicia had tried to use suncream and she hadn’t used any since Lima. Because we were now at much higher altitude the air pressure inside the bottle changed and then BOOM. Sun cream EVERYWHERE. It was hilarious and I won’t disclose how Alicia dealt with the problem!
We wandered around the sight which was fascinating. It’s remarkable to think that civilisations lived here and that they managed to build such sophisticate buildings at such high altitude with just stones and nothing holding them together.
These little huts were sweet and provided shade at much needed times! I can’t explain what Alicia is doing here:
One of the things that amazed me the most was the way farming was done all those years ago. Due to the change in altitude the farms were placed a several layers and therefore different things could grow at different temperatures. It’s quite spectacular!
At this same point we then noticed a funny squiggly line over the mountain. After some thinking it occurred to me that the line was in fact the road we had travelled up..!
Another super view was the houses from far away which looked like the new Toblerone.
What these photos don’t show are the queues around the site. It’s weird that you couldn’t really stop and take some aspects in because of the queues but I guess that’s just how it is. The following picture is a statue of a condor that was made hundreds of years ago by the Incas.
As you leave Machu Picchu you get to see more llamas and we saw one rolling around in the grass which was hilarious!
Now you’re probably thinking “My my, this site doesn’t seem wheelchair accessible, how outrageous!” Well, just as we were leaving we witnessed several wheelchair users being hoisted up by many members of staff across the site. Hats off to them for making it accessible but it did look uncomfortable for those in the wheelchair!
After we left Machu Picchu we started to queue again to get the bus back down. Suddenly a wave came over me and I felt incredibly faint. The heat, altitude, lack of water and extreme amounts of walking had finally got to me. I just wanted to be transported to bed but we had an uncomfortable bus journey and a train journey ahead. Oh joy.
Overall I would recommend visiting Machu Picchu. Once you get past the atrocious booking system for tickets and the sheer volume of people being allowed to enter the site (which I think is dangerous not only for people but also for the state of the ruins) it’s an amazing spectacle and breathtaking. I have visited several ruins and ancient civilisations but this is monumental. Anyway, for full recommendations on how to tackle the process here’s my trip advisor review which should give some useful advice as well as in depth grumble about my experience of booking.
Like I said, I think it’s a fab sight to see but I whole heartedly understand why the residents of Aguas Calientes were striking the following day.