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Incas ruled!

We were two of very few people who arrived at Macchu Picchu independently. This is not surprising given the difficulty in reaching this Wonder of the World. Last year’s rains created a mudslide and turned the only train track and parts of the road to Macchu Picchu impassable.

The Inca built the city we call Macchu Picchu (named after the mountain rising from the South side of the site) between 1450 and 1550 AD in a geographical area which even today is difficult and treacherous to reach. Only one train line exists. and the only road has to circumnavigate some of the mountains and torrentialrivers.


A large number of people arrive at Macchu Picchu on an organised tour, either having walked the  two or four day long Inca Trail, or arriving on a day trip. The Inca Trail is very popular and gets booked out months in advance especially as there is a limit on the number of peole allowed to enter the site each day.

So, the independent traveller must book transport from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, a train journey from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, a bus ride from Aguas Calientes to Macchu Picchu, the entrance ticket to the monument, a guide and of course accommodation. No wonder then that many opt for the easier option of an organised tour.

Having researched all the links for a few days we managed to book everything without seeing one travel agent!

On 4th April we headed up the mountain and were at the Watchmen’s Tower, looking down at the site at 7am in the morning. Words fail me in trying to describe this otherworldly and mysterious place. Just walking around the site we were flabbergasted at the skill and engineering of the people who 500 years ago built this magical place in the clouds!

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  1. Linh Le Haas
    May 24, 2011 at 01:04

    Hi Shelly,

    I found your site on tripadvisor while searching for a private driver/tourguide for Cusco to go around Sacred Valley. Which service did you go through and can you please share that with me? I really appreciate it. I found a few services online but they all charge per person rather than per day charge.

    Safe and fun travel!
    Linh

    • May 24, 2011 at 03:45

      Hi Linh

      I booked our driver with Marjorie (think that’s how you spell it) at the Hostel Preregrino (http://hostalelperegrinocusco.com/home.html) where we stayed a couple of nights. She will help you even if you are not staying there. Our driver was a lovely man and the bill was very reasonable. Good luck!

      Shelley

  2. Linh Le Haas
    May 24, 2011 at 14:56

    Thank you for the quick response. I see that you went to Buenos Aires as well, I am heading there after Peru. Which hotel did you stay at?
    You’re absolutely living my dream right now traveling the world – so wonderful!

    • Duy
      December 20, 2011 at 17:08

      have fun there

      • Linh Le Haas
        February 23, 2012 at 19:29

        Hi Duy,

        I didn’t stay at a hotel. I actually used Air BnB and stayed at somebody’s apt which was quite an adventure because it’s an old apt with limited hot water. If you can, try to hit up La Cabrera (steak house) for Happy Hour, which is between 5 – 7, everything is half off. We went there for dinner but there was no reservation left for regular dinner so ended up eating their ‘early’ dinner and was so surprise when the bill came out. Go there early, the restaurant fills up fast for this deal. Enjoy Buenos Aires!

  3. May 24, 2011 at 21:05

    Hi Linh, we stayed for three months in BA so took an apartment in Palermo Hollywood. Check the Buenos Aires category on the left panel see:

    https://shelleytravel.wordpress.com/2010/12/18/arrived-in-buenos-aires/
    https://shelleytravel.wordpress.com/2010/12/19/i-live-in-palermo/

    We learned to speak Spanish and dance the tango and generally had a fabulous time. BA now counts as one of my favourite cities in the world. I have written quite a lot about it on this blog and also loads of entries on Tripadvisor – http://www.tripadvisor.com/members/LondonTravelTrip

    How long are you going for and what is your plan? If you are going for a month or more, I highly recommend renting an apartment. Whatever you do, have a fantastic time!

    Shelley

  4. chanika
    August 3, 2011 at 18:48

    Hi Shelley,

    I’m going to Cusco in October and trying to decide if I should book everything by myself or go through a tour agent. I already have problems booking train ticket online. Assume that I can resolve the issue, was it difficult to arrange taxi and bus once we get there? I can only speak English.

    thanks,
    Chanika

    • August 7, 2011 at 06:17

      Hi chanika, we travelled to Cusco by Peruvian Airlines from Lima and booked online. They were excellent (and free) when I needed to change the flight. We boked everything by ourselves when we got to Cusco though it depends how long you are going for. I assume you mean the train ticket to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu)? We also had trouble mainly because part of the line was shut from the floods. You may have the same issue. We booked directly with the train company’s office on the main square in Cusco. The trains are the most expensive part of the journey to Macchu Picchu because they have amonopoly. There is a bus route but it’s long and needs to circumnavigate the mountain to get to Aguas Calientes. The vistadome train is a good bet because it has glass windows on the ceiling so you can see the scenery and mountains on the scenic journey. When in Aguas Calientes, stay the night and get up early to climb (by foot or bus) the last leg of the journey to MP.

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