Train journey to Machu Picchu, world heritage site - Lost City of the Incas.
04.04.2015 - 04.04.2015
Well, it just keeps getting better and better!
Big bags out at 8.00 pm last night for transporting to Cusco when we arrive on Sunday night. We have to "pack down" to our carry on, for our train ride to Machu Picchu.
Meanwhile, the alarm went off at 4.45 am, into breakfast at 5.30. They weren't quite ready for us, with the lights hardly on and some breakfast items were there, but there were no serving spoons and not many staff to ask. Anyway, it was good that we could have something to eat before our travel began.
At 6.30 am we congregated in the foyer and dragging our carry ons behind us, walked through the hotel grounds to the railway station where we boarded our train for the journey to Machu Picchu.
The train was modern and clean and it was just lovely travelling along beside the Urubamba River. There is also a road that runs right beside the train track and it is quite weird to see cars and trucks driving right beside the train. Our first stop was at Ollentaytambo where other passengers got on and then we continued on for about an hour and a half where we passed through some fabulous scenery. The Andes mountains are breathtaking. We were served morning tea on the train.
When we arrived at Machu Picchu, we hopped off the train, and joined the queue with hundreds of others to board the buses that would take us up the mountain. We had a bus to ourselves which was nice. We were the last on the bus and had to sit in the back row. Then we proceeded up the mountain on a very narrow winding road. It just went up and up and up and the scenery was wonderful. Huge mountains everywhere.
There are lots and lots of people queueing and it has been said that the main threat to Machu Picchu is the tourists. So once we showed our passports to the guard on the gate (for what reason I don't know) we started to explore this magnificent place.
This person didn't fare too well on the mountain. It was a sobering sight.
It was very hot when the sun came out. I guess it was because we were so close to the Sun God. We went everywhere. We climbed up and down and up and down and up and down. Machu Picchu is a 15th century Inca site 2430 metres above sea level. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti. The Incas built the estate around 1450 but abandoned it a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. It remained virtually unknown to the outside world until being discovered by American historian Hiram Bingham in 1911. Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. It has also been voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.
We had a buffet lunch at the only restaurant on the mountain and it was lovely food, but it was a bit like "feeding time at the zoo"!
After lunch about five our group decided to go back to the hotel and the rest of us started the climb to the Guardhouse. It wasn't as bad a climb as we thought it would be and as it started to rain, it cooled it down quite a bit, but we had to be extra careful as the rocks became a bit slippery. Once we arrived at the National Geographic photo site, we all had our photos taken and then our guide asked us if any of us wanted to go to the Sun Gate. "Where is it" we asked and she pointed right up on top of the mountain. "No thanks" we all said, so continued on with our tour.
It was a bit hairy going down as the path was narrow with uneven rock steps and a sheer drop on one side. I think we were all glad when we reached the lower levels.
On the way to the Ceremonial Rock we saw this llama.
The Ceremonial Rock is in perfect line with the mountain behind.
The sun finally came out and we took some lovely photos of a rainbow. The Incas believe in duality and even with rainbows, the brightest end is the male and the pale end is the female. Because the male is bright to attract predators to keep them away from the female and the babies.
On the way to the exit, we came across these two llamas. They were going to walk down this path regardless who was in the way, and walk down it they did!
Back on the bus for the ride down the mountain and Amparo was waiting for us with our room keys. Our room is right at the end of the building and is overlooking the river, which rages all the time. She said those of us at the front would hear the river all night and the ones at the back would hear the train, which stops at 11pm and starts again at 6am!
The view from our room.
We met in the dining room for dinner at 7 and sat with Josh and Mary. The food was simply delicious and all of us really enjoyed our meals. As we were eating our dessert, Mary's glass of ice cream exploded at the base and crashed onto the plate. We think it was a sign!
Finally into bed and after a 4.45am start and climbing all over Machu Picchu and the sound of the river, we were asleep in no time.