I was met with a lot of skepticism and surprise when I tell people that we organized our entire trip Machu Picchu on our own. In fact, this is how I have been travelling ever since I could travel – independently, only using agents when absolutely necessary. I’m not here to bad-mouth travel agents and tour operators, all I’m saying is there is a way to avoid all the extra fees if you’re willing to do your research beforehand as I will prove to you with this post and hopefully make it easier for you if you ever end up wanting to replicate our trip.
As we wind our way up the Hiram Bingham Highway, I looked out the window and saw rows of valleys, lined up as far as the eyes could see. The sun hasn’t risen yet but its golden rays has started to illuminate the sky, shrouding the Sacred Valley with an aura of mystery. I turned to Claire and expressed my concern, the one where I so foolishly thought I would be disappointed by the ruins, that I would get up there and felt the way I felt when I saw the Mona Lisa or the Grand Canyon (I.e. crestfallen, more than anything).
“Permisso señora, donde esta Avenida Pa-ka-chu-teq?” I confidently asked the waiter who was sitting on a table waiting for customers to come by.
I LOVE train travels, especially if said journey involves beautiful scenery following Rio Urubamba through the Andes.
I’m glad we decided to take the train to Aguas Calientes. It came with a hefty price – $120 USD for a return journey. I initially had some doubts on how good this train ride could really be. My doubts vanished as soon as I saw the carriage we were in – air conditioned, wide window panels, and comfortable seating. I was even more impressed when the snack and drinks cart rolled around.
If you want to replicate our journey, we booked with Perurail. I wasn’t able to make my payments online so I emailed them and manually submitted a credit card authorization form.
You’ll have to get yourself to Ollantaytambo train station by taking a collectivo or a private taxi from Cusco. It’s all for the better anyways because Ollantaytambo is a cute little town you won’t regret spending some time in.
Hint: the collectivo is much less expensive at 10 Soles per person compared to ~100 soles for a private taxi.
Hint #2: Facing forward, sit on the left hand side for better views.
Here are 10 photos (from about 60 or so) I took from that ride. Enjoy!
P.s. all photos taken with my cellphone camera because it was way too cumbersome to take out my DSLR. Plus the couples sharing the seat with us practically took all the space on the table with their huge bags and walking sticks. They were one of the travelers I talked about in this highlight post. Absolutely no etiquette whatsoever. I am appalled.