Machu Picchu was our last stop before leaving Peru and crossing the border into Chile. It was also the one we were waiting for our entire time here. Jami and I didn’t really plan the Machu Picchu portion of our trip. We knew how we were getting to Cusco, the closest big city where everyone goes to acclimate to the elevation, but getting to Machu Picchu from Cusco we just figured we would take the train. Once arriving in Cusco we checked those train prices and we were in shock at how much we were going to have to spend. But Machu Picchu was part of our budget and part of our must see locations so if we had to take the train then we were going to take the train. Luckily, our Airbnb host showed us a cheaper option. Much cheaper, for a reason.
Here’s where it becomes more of a backpacker style of travel. Instead of the expensive train that took us directly from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, the base of Machu Picchu, we took a 7 hour winding van ride from Cusco to Hidroelectrica, a train station just outside of Aguas Calientes. From there we were on foot for 3 hours hiking alongside the train tracks following the river all the way to Aguas Calientes while being eaten alive by sand flies. It took all day to finally get to our hostel. Luckily meals were included in this little travel package and the entire thing saved us so much money for a little, or maybe a lot, of struggling to get to Machu Picchu.
The next morning we were awake before dawn, ate our hostel breakfast, the standard bread and butter, and started our hike up to the entry of Machu Picchu. It’s amazing what the Incas were able to build up here. The stone just fit together so perfectly to make these structures. So much precision from the stone, the direction of the windows, and the water canals. So much intelligence can be seen there. The surrounding views were equally impressive. And there were Llamas! Llamas make everything better.
After our tour of Machu Picchu it was time to hike back down and meet our van back at that train station 3 hours away, this time in the pouring rain, for one more bumpy, windy, 7 hour ride back to Cusco.