The Machu Picchu tour is in the bag and what an excellent adventure it was. The train trip from Cusco to Machu Picchu is a 4 hour ride that is interesting from the very beginning and just gets better as you continue to Agua Calientes (the little village where the train stops and you stay overnight if that is the way you schedule your trip). Even though Machu Picchu is approximately 3000 feet lower than Cusco, the train has to climb over a very steep mountain to get out of the Cusco valley. It is so steep and narrow that the train has to "switchback" up the side of the mountain. The train can't turn around, so goes forward up the steep grade for a ways and passes a switch. A fellow jumps off and changes the switch and the train BACKS up the steep grade for a ways then the process starts all over again. Forward and backward to the top of the mountain. From there it drops down into a VERY narrow and steep canyon that follows the Urubamba River to Agua Calientes. There are mountains on both sides of the train that are thousands of feet high. Many of them were cloud covered and some of them snow covered. All of them have many very tall and thin eucalyptus trees.
We are NOT in Kansas anymore Toto!! It is breathtaking.
We spent the night in Agua Calientes so we could be in the Machu Picchu ruins when they opened at 6:00 AM. It would have been a great plan except for the clouds and rain that hid the views of almost everything.
I climbed to the "lookout" house because that is where the picture that is mostly associated with Machu Picchu was taken and I wanted an "original". The clouds and rain had different ideas. Waited up there for an hour and got a few pictures but not the "money" shot. Climbed back down and thoroughly toured the lower parts of the ruins.
It looked like it was going to clear up so I headed back up to the "lookout" house again. Stopped to recover a couple of times this trip (VERY steep climb). Got up there and into the house just in time avoid getting rained (poured) on.
Waited another hour and headed back down to meet the guide for the "official" tour. As we meet him at 11:00 AM the sun broke out and I knew the picture I was looking for would be available. Excused myself from the tour and for the third time climbed back up to the "lookout" (as I said I REALLY wanted this picture). :=)
This picture would look just like the ones you see on the post cards if it weren't for that "Yeti" that popped up just as I took the picture.
There are MANY more pictures starting here (thankfully most don't have that yeti in them). Many of them would take a LOT of explaining. Market in Cusco, and a very special drink! RickMcD.smugmug.com/gallery/1920143/30/113880485
Needless to say I was thrilled to finally be in Machu Picchu. The train trip back to Cusco was just as good and even had entertainment.
We will leave here and head to Lake Titicaca and La Paz, Bolivia. From there south into Argentina and points beyond. More from Down the Road!!Posted by Rick McDermed at November 30, 2006 03:24 PM GMT
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