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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 Motivation and Planning
- LAN Flight Experience
- Tambo Del Inka Resort
- Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley
- JW Marriott Lima
- Exploring Lima
- Exploring Easter Island and the Moai
- W Santiago
- 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.
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.
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.
Upon arriving at the top, we climbed a few stairs, passed through the gates, and then let our jaws drop!
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.