Machu Picchu (day 2)

After an obscenely early lobby departure (3:15) and a ride to the airport we departed for Cusco. At one point, Cusco was the main capital of the Incan empire but most of the dwellings were destroyed by the Spanish invaders centuries ago. For us, it was the beginnings of a plane, bus, train, and bus day (without John Candy) that took us to Machu Picchu.

The plane ride was noteworthy in that Cusco is over 11,000 ft. We came into the runway quite hot and dropped between two mountains, one on each side of the airport. Our pilot landed the A-320 like it was a commuter jet or private plane. Sitting at the window it reminded me of a Star Wars video game.

 

After a 40 minute bus ride we boarded the Hiram Bingham train. It was named after the Yale professor who discovered and helped unearth (or remove vegetation) from the ruins in 1910-14. Here are two shots of the train. A glass of bubbly or wine, followed by a very nice lunch (beef tenderloin cooked to order) were served enroute. Very classy train ride.

We arrived about 1:00 at Machu Picchu Pueblo. It is at the bottom of the mountain on the river and for years the only gateway to the ruins. A hotel was built near the entrance 10 or 15 years ago so our bus picked us up and started the ~1,500 foot climb to our hotel near the base of the ancient city and terraces.

We dropped our bags in our rooms entered the park. This has always been a dream to experience this but I don’t think either of us realistically thought we’d get here. It blew through every expectation we had.

We were led by an expert local guide who gave us excellent insights into current thinking about the history and culture at the site.

We kept going until the sun was close to setting. Wonderful light.

Our guide’s climbing (and I am only talking about stairs and ramps) put us all to shame. We did over 12,000 steps which represented 200+ flights of stairs over the next three hours, all of this at 8,000+ ft. Needless to say we slept well.

Tomorrow: Sunrise in the ruins and the journey back to Cusco.

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