3.20 AM – Alarm clock sounds and five adventurers stir from a minimal slumber. Bronwyn, Rachel, Joe, Robin and the Brazilianaire get up and in a surge of solidarity, head out into the cold of night. With a fetching orange beanie and this season’s trend of jeans tucked into large woolen socks, the Brazilianaire trudges onwards, $2 flashlight in hand (Thanks Dad!)
Breathing comes hard and fast with the altitude squeezing the lungs of the five adventurers, but after an hour and a half of persistence, the climb is over and the group face a brief wait until the park is opened.
The Brazilianire, having had a dose of bad bus stop food the day before, eats a bite of energy bar and empties his stomach out onto the nearby road. He remembers thankfully that he has TicTacs and removes the odour in seconds. This was Machu Picchu. One of the worlds great wonders. Nothing could spoil this day…
Sunlight rushed in over the valley and began to reveal more detail of these Incan ruins. Finding a secluded rock a little off the general path, I sat down to take in the sight and contemplate life. After that it was a further climb up to Waynupicchu up the sinister stairs of death, through the tunnel of dusty doom, and on to the peak of peril. The view is something completely indescribable, but the feeling of descending is rather fear-filled. The stairs are so thin without handrails and you are literally walking alongside a considerable drop. Many people were having panic attacks on the way down and rightfully so.
Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail is apparently sinking at the rate of 1 cm per month due to the tourist traffic. The Peruvian government may need to take further steps to reduce the numbers of tourists making it harder to get into Machu Picchu. If you have the chance to go to Machu Picchu in the next few years, grab it! But don’t forget to plan your trip well. To walk the Inca Trail, you will need to book 3 months in advance during the peak season.
To get to Machu Picchu there are some cheaper alternatives than just catching the train from Cuzco to Agua Calientes. Firstly, you will need to go to the train station in Cuzco to buy the return train ticket from Ollantaytambo to Agua Calientes (about $40 USD). The ticket needs to be bought a day before you plan to go to Agua Calientes. On the day of your travel catch two local buses Cuzco – Urubamba and then Urabamba – Ollantaytambo. These cost almost $2 US in total
Another cheap alternative is to walk the train tracks from Ollantaytambo to Agua Calientes as apparently this is possible.
Get up at around 4 am to climb up to Machu Picchu in time to enter the park when it opens. You will need a flashlight and some spare batteries.