Machu Picchu was one of those places I had dreamt about visiting ever since I knew it existed, making it top of my list of things to do whilst travelling.
Before leaving the UK I bought our tickets for site entry, by that time the tickets for the Inca Trail had sold out, but in all honesty that didn’t bother us as it was the ancient city we wanted to see.
To get to Machu Picchu we drove from Cusco to Ollantaytambo and from there took a train to Aguas Calientes. This journey alone was epic.
On the drive we passed through snow capped mountains. We had a couple of hours in Ollantaytambo which is a tiny town/village where the locals mill about without any apparent regard for the impressive Inca remains towering over them. The train from there cuts through the mountains along the valley floor, following the path of a fast flowing river – at times we were uncomfortably close to the river edge. We saw glimpses of people living on the lower edges of the mountain and valley floor in what seemed like an impossible place to inhabit but also impossibly beautiful. The cherry on the top for me was when horses appeared out of nowhere to gallop alongside the train.
Agua Calientes has no roads and is only accessible by train. In fact the town is little more than 2 rows of buildings either side of the tracks. When a train went past it sounded as though it was coming through our hostel. The first time this happened my life flashed before my eyes (and I might have jumped into Maura’s arms).
We decided to get up at 5am to get the first bus up to Machu Picchu in an attempt to see the site before too many people turned up. So we trudged up the road from our hostel in complete darkness only to join the hundreds of other people already standing in the bus queue!
However, we were soon winding our way up to the site on what felt like a roller coaster climbing to its peak before it chucks you down the other side; either that or my adrenaline had gone into overdrive with the prospect of fulfilling a childhood dream. Maura was calmly sitting next to me taking everything in her stride.
Finally, we arrived. We clambered up the side to the top and saw the view that draws so many pilgrims to this other worldly place. The adrenaline subsided and was replaced with awe and contentment. I won’t describe Machu Picchu other than to say it lives up to the hype and suggest you take a look at our pictures as they will do a much better job than me.