Journey to Easter Island – Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley


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I had some pre-conceived notions that Machu Picchu was a bit of a tourist trap.  I couldn’t have been more wrong. This ‘Wonder’ deserves its title.

Trip Report

  1. Trip Motivation and Planning
  2. LAN Flight Experience
  3. Tambo Del Inka Resort
  4. Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley
  5. JW Marriott Lima
  6. Exploring Lima
  7. Exploring Easter Island and the Moai
  8. W Santiago
  9. Exploring Santiago De Chile

Prior to arriving in Peru, I had arranged a full day private tour to Machu Picchu through the Tambo Del Inka.  I knew I could purchase the components of the trip separately and save money but opted for the bundled package.  There is a limit set by the Peruvian Government on the number of visitors to Machu Picchu each day and we were willing to pay a premium to avoid that risk.

The trip in

We met in the lobby of the Tambo Del Inka with several other guests for our trip.  A member of the hotel staff gathered called us and walked the group down to the hotel’s private rail station.  The station is located entirely within the hotel grounds and a short 10 minute walk from the lobby.  The hotel representative answered questions and helped with luggage.  Since the train to Machu Picchu originated at this station, we had the luxury of leaving a few minutes after loading.

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The PeruRail Vistadome rail car was very roomy and had a dome-like window design on the top of the car to enable better viewing in all directions around the train. The views on this train ride through the Inca Valley to Aguas Calientes (train station closest to the site) are simply stunning.  I am not a train enthusiast, but I have to imagine this particular ride makes some world’s best train ride lists.  Drinks and ‘airplane’ quality meals were served in both directions.

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At the end of the line lies the beautiful town of Aguas Calientes. We were promptly greeted by our personal tour guide at the train station. He walked us through the town and pointed out some of the nicer restaurants. In retrospect, I would have stayed a night here and explore the town. A day trip to Machu Picchu does not allow ample time for exploring since most of your time will be at the site.

The tour guide then lead us towards the buses that take visitors up to Machu Picchu.  The buses are comfortable and air-conditioned though the climb is very narrow and windy up into the mountains.  Those with a fear of heights may want to keep their eyes closed.  The road is wide enough for one bus while they run every few minutes in both directions. You do the math.

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The destination

Upon arriving at the top, we climbed a few stairs, passed through the gates, and then let our jaws drop!

 

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The tour guide had a lot of interesting information to share though very little of it stuck with me. The view was absorbing! The setting of Machu Picchu against the backdrop of the Andes mountains is simply breath taking.  The untouched mountains dramatically surround the site.  The government has done an excellent job with preservation in this area.  Though you can see for miles in all directions, there are no buildings or structures detracting the view.

We spent hours walking around the site until finally returning to The Sanctuary, a very expensive hotel near the entrance though still outside the gates of Machu Picchu, for our lunch included in the tour price.  The buffet lunch was excellent though surely not worth the 35+ USD they charge in Peru.  But given the monopoly for lunch they have at the top, the place was packed.

After an amazing day, we reversed our path by taking a bus down to Aguas Calientes, PeruRail Vistadome back to the Tambo Del Inka train station, and finally the short 10 minute stroll back to our room.  Truly a day to remember!

The bottom line

I couldn’t have been more wrong with my pre-conceived notions that Machu Picchu was a tourist trap.  Machu Picchu is spectacular in so many ways and visions of the experience still dominate my finest traveling memories.  If you have any chance to include Machu Picchu in your future trip plans, I highly recommend the experience.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This post was accurate at the time of posting, offer may be unavailable on this site at a later time. For details on current offers visit the card issuer’s site.

About alex

Alex loves to travel and does so a lot. Logging 100,000 flight miles each year over the past 4 years, Alex uses points and miles to power his passion. Alex is continuously striving to experience the far reaches of the globe. In his day job, Alex is a Management Consultant frequently on the road advising Technology organizations. I love thinking about, reading about, and talking about all things travel. Feel free to reach me at pmmalex@gmail.com

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Comments

  1. 350 USD per person (added to the hotel room bill AKA points eligible) Included was train tickets (Tambo del Inka Resort & Spa – Machupicchu and vice versa), Round-trip bus from train station up to the ruins, Entrance ticket to Machu Picchu, Private tour guide and Lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge.

  2. @JoC – No issues to report for us. I am a 20-something and my parents are 60-somethings. MP itself is 7,970 ft above sea level. I think the larger concern would be Cuzco and the Cuzco Airport which is the primary airport in the region. The elevation at Cuzco is 11,200 ft.

  3. After my recent trip to Machu Picchu, I would also highly recommend it. Unlike Alex, we hiked to Machu Picchu on Salkantay trail. The Inka Trail is the famous one, but when I booked in mid Feb for June, it was already sold out (only 300 permits a day for this trek). So if anyone wants a less touristy experience, they should consider hiking, a lot of fun!

  4. How far in advance did you arrange tour to Machu Picchu through Tambo Del Inka? I am doing almost identical trip in late Sept/early October on last years BA credit card signup bonus using their pre-Avios award chart. Look forward to rest of you report.

  5. alex, just stumbled upon your blog today! We did a similar trip in May this year, and have been writing about it on our blogs, too!

  6. when did you head out on the train in the morning and when did you depart back to the hotel? is there only one time there and one time back for Tambo?

  7. Alex, I will be heading out on similar trip in Nov. Which email you used to contact for the tour? I got no response using the website email.

  8. Alex, I will be going also in late November…do you know much about the climate? Can you send me some info on the hotel next to the rail. How did you fly from Lima to Cuzco? Did you use LAN via BA?
    Many thanks,
    Stewart

  9. Hi, very good review just what we were looking for. One random question, what were the facilities like on the train, bus and at the site i.e toilets?

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