The Road to Machu Picchu
The world is a wonderous place filled with natural beauty and the occasional man made variety. Machu Picchu is one of those man made wonders that’s on most people’s bucket lists. With its distance from the United States or Europe, it can be a costly experience. Peru is not an expensive country to visit but due to the remote location of Machu Picchu it can be expensive.
The road to Machu Picchu will most likely start with an international flight to Lima, Peru, with a connection flight to Cusco. The city was once the center of the Incan civilization and it’s now the starting point for all the travelers on their way to Machu Picchu. Cusco is definitely more than just a rest stop for those wishing to travel to the lost city of the Incans. It’s a wonderful mix of Incan and colonial Spanish cultures and architecture. I would definitely take the time to see the area.
There are many routes to get to the citadel of Machu Picchu. The simplest way is to just do a one day trip from Cusco. It general starts with a 4 a.m. pickup time from your hotel and it involves a van ride to the train station, a train ride to Machu Picchu Pueblo, and a bus ride up to the mountain top. Your day of adventure won’t end until 9:30 p.m. when you’ll be dropped of at your hotel. This very very long day of adventure isn’t cheap either, it will set you back over $300 US dollar. For the more adventurous travelers, there is always the famed Incan trail that will take 4 days to hike. There is a less strenuous 2 day hike that can be done as well.
I wanted to see the Cusco area as well as the famed citadel so my trek was a total of three nights. After a morning arrival, my first day included a half day tour of Cusco in the afternoon. I got to travel along the cobble-stone walk ways as the Incans once did. The next day, the tour would take us through the Sacred Valley. The valley is filled with multiple cultural and archeological sites.
Our stops would include the grand terraces of Pisac and massive stone town of Ollantaytambo, once home to the elite and Incan nobles. From here, the night would involve a train ride to Machu Picchu Pueblo where I would spend the night. The following morning, I took the bus ride up to the mountain top.
The morning was cold and raining but with a little patience I was able to witness Machu Picchu. The sky opened just long enough for me to experience one of the earths wonders. High atop this mountain, the Incans moved large, very large, stones to create this citadel for high priests and royalty who were allowed to live here. It’s still a mystery why the city was abandoned by the Incans after a century of existence. Why would they go through so much to build such a magnificent city just to abandon it? Visiting the complex has become much more restricted with the movement within the city limited by a one way path. The entrance starts at the opposing hilltop and you can view the complex from this crest and get a birds eye view of the city. For those who aren’t in hiking shape, there is a less strenuous path as well. The one way path will then take you through the small entrance into the city as it zigzags through the complex. The restrictive path keeps the thousands of tourists from trampling over the archeological site. It helps preserve the many artifacts that they have found and, most importantly, the one’s they haven’t found yet.
for a detailed account of each portion of my time in Peru, click the link: Peru
There are many ways to Machu Picchu from hiking the Incan trail to the many combinations of tours to make up the road to the mountain top. There is no right way as long as you enjoy the path. I would liked to have accomplished the Incan trail but I didn’t have enough time during my South America Expedition. I chose to see Cusco and the Sacred Valley as well as Machu Picchu and I definitely do not have any regrets at all. My visit was like a walk back in time, a time of Incan glory. Chose your path and experience the majesty of the Incans for yourself.