A January 2001 trip
to Machu Picchu by the Xplorer
Quote: Having reached Machu Picchu you will have reached one of the least visited 'major' archeological sites of this planet. The size and setting are the most fasciating values. Getting there is your largest challenge.
Attraction | "Xploring Machu Picchu"
Machu Picchu Inca Archaeological Site
Above The Urubamba Valley
Cusco Region, Peru
Once you get inside you will soon realize that there are a lot of steps in this place. Be prepared to work out your legs. If it’s misty or rainy, the steps may be slippery and muddy. The steps are also very uneven and most of the time they are tall steps. As you become an expert step climber while at the ruins, look out for steps that are carved out of the stone, these were done by the original Incan residents.
The first vantage point will be the one that is commonly seen in all the pictures of Machu Picchu. The ruins with two pointy mountains behind. The ruins actually sit on a "saddle" between two mountains. They are called the New Peak (Huayan Picchu) and the Old Peak (Machu Picchu). In the pictures, the New Peak is the one in the background.
Machu Picchu is a bit of a mystery because no one even knows what the ruins were originally called, that's why they are simply called Machu Picchu, the Old Peak. The city is in remarkable shape, with many buildings that are easy to define, enter and understand how it was used. Even though no one has been able to determine for sure why this city was created in such a unique spot, there are many theories. Throughout the ruins you will see how terraces were created and used extensively to grow their crops. The center of the ruins is really the only large flat area that exists in this hilly Lost City. Most of the ruins can be accessed and explored at your leisure. There are many neat places to stop and take breaks too.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 21, 2001
There are many other options if you want to hike for a longer time. As everyone takes the train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes to reach the ruins, you will have the opportunity to get off on certain markers that give you access to the Inca Trail. The most common are the 4 day and the 2 day hikes. Both end with a dramatic arrival at Machu Picchu. The hikes take you deep into the jungle and give you a solid glimpse of other ruins that can only be seen on foot. From Cusco there are several agencies that can organize your hike for you and even rent you all the equipment you will need for your hike.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 21, 2001
Attraction | "Getting to Machu Picchu"
You also have the option of taking a helicopter from Cusco to Aguas Calientes but be ready to pay premium.
Most people will visit the ruins as a day trip, returning to Cusco in the evening. Be prepared to alter your plans as need be. On our trip up on the bus, we didn't quite make it to Ollantaytambo where we had to catch the train for the remainder of the journey because there were protests going on in the center of that town and the military riot control unit had been sent to retain control (see photo). In our case all the passengers on our bus had to walk back a ways to a point where we could walk the last couple miles along the railroad tracks into this town (see photo). We were able to safely make our connecting train and continue on up to Aguas Calientes. Once there, we had arrived at the town that serviced Machu Picchu, which was perched a couple thousand feet above us on the mountain. From here we boarded a bus that took us up the mountain on a road that was rough and bumpy. The ride to the entrance of the ruins takes 30 minutes and it's all zigzagging switchbacks up the mountain. Some turns are so tight that the driver has to drive within inches of the precipice. No rails of course. Not for the faint of heart. If you are afraid of heights, don't look out the window.