Machu Picchu was an incredible experience that I will NEVER forget!! I wanted to share my experience and share a ton of tips for anyone who is interested in going themselves one day!
Day 5 October 5
We arrived in the city of Machu Picchu/ Aguas Calientes after a wonderful ride on the Peru Rail. The views of the train ride were spectacular and ride was only a quick 2 hours from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu. We got roundtrip tickets from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu that cost $135. When we got off the train it we went straight to our hotel- Gringo Bills. It was walkable distance and pretty easy to find since all of the hotels are in the same area. The local Peruvian people were very helpful as well and most seemed to know the hotel. The town is very small and is made for tourists- filled with restaurants that served American food and souvenir shops.
After settling into the hotel, we decided to walk around the town and have dinner. We had an AMAZING dinner at Treehouse Cafe. I had the alpaca burger which was so good! It tasted like beef and turkey mix. The burger was layered with cheese, bacon, fried egg, arugula, and had the most delicious herb/ olive oil mixture to add for extra flavor!! My friend had ribs with a tangy orange flavored glaze which was equally delicious!
TIP: Buy your bus ticket to take you up to Machu Picchu a day in advance to save a lot of time and hassle!! If you don't, you will have to wait in an incredibly long line the next day for buses. Place to buy tickets is right by the water by the bus station. It is a little wooden booth. Cost about $25 roundtrip.
We went to sleep quite early as we had to get up at 3:30am to get ready for Machu Picchu and the climb next day.
Day 6 October 6
Wake up call 3:30 AM. We got ready and packed our bags for Machu Picchu and Waynapicchu hike! I recommend packing the following items:
1. Granola Bar/ snacks
2. Water- at least 32-48 oz. I also recommend putting Cocoa leaves in the water to help with altitude sickness.
3. Cocoa leaves/ cocoa candy
4. Sunscreen- the sun can get very hot and powerful midday
5. Bug spray!
8. Sweatshirt- I wore mine in the morning and by midday I was only wearing a tank top. The temperatures change so wear layers
9. TICKETS & Passport! This is your entry in so don't forget it!! Also, when you leave Machu Picchu, you can get your passport stamped!
We arrived at the bus station (bus that takes us up to the entrance of Machu Picchu) around 4:30 AM. There was already a LONG line! About 150-200 people long. The ticket was actually for the 5:30AM bus (which is the first bus up). Close to departing time about 10 buses pulled up- we were able easily get in the first group up the mountain. It was a windy rocky road up but the view were amazing!
We arrived at the entrance of Machu Picchu in about 30 minutes and went straight to use the bathroom. TIP: use the bathroom before entering because there is no bathroom inside! It costs 1 sol.
We got tickets to climb mountain Waynapicchu (also spelled Huaynapicchu on the website) 7-8am entrance. TIP: Get tickets a couple months in advance as they only allow 400 people up Waynapicchu a day and tickets sell out fast! Also, have someone who speaks/ reads Spanish fluently with you when purchasing tickets online because the site runs much better in Spanish from my experience. Waynapicchu overlooks Machu Picchu (it is the very large mountain in the back in the picture below). It is a 1 hour climb up old Incan stone steps almost 1000 feet up. It sounds really tough but surprisingly is quite manageable. There were people of all ages doing this climb so don't feel defeated by reading the description. We were blown away by the natural beauty of Machu Picchu the minute we entered in. Everything is so green and fresh!! It felt so peaceful there in the morning when the mist was just lifting up and the sun was rising!
We followed the signs for Waynapicchu and also listened to other tourists going the same way.
Major Tips: I recommend doing the climb up Waynapicchu first before discovering the rest of Machu Picchu for several reasons:
1: Save the energy you have to climb up Waynapicchu because you are climbing hundreds of rocky stairs 1000ft up!
2. The weather is much cooler in the morning so it will feel better. Trust me! We were making our down around 10am and we could already feel the change of heat, especially during the parts of the trek that weren't shaded by trees.
3. It's not as busy in the morning and you won't have people climbing down the mountain while you are on your way up!
4. Put on tons of bug spray before you start the climb
We started at 7969.13 feet and climbed the mountain Waynapicchu up to the highest peak at 8788.16 feet! We made in up to the top in under an hour (54 minutes to be exact after a lot of heavy breathing and multiple stops along the way LOL). The feeling of accomplishment was unbelievable! I am not a big hiker but after this experience, I can totally understand why people love hiking!! We stayed up at the top for amount an hour just admiring the view, soaking it all up! I've never seen anything like this ever before and the pictures don't do this landmark justice.
We went back down Waynapicchu (which only took us about 35 minutes) and went to the popular spot to look at the Machu Picchu ruins. Note that you need to fully exit the site and re-enter because of the way they have it set up. Don't forget to get your passport stamped!!
After a day of climbing, we had great 3 course dinner at El Indio Feliz. I got onion soup, fettuccine with mushrooms, tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and other sauce Peruvian sauces. Last but not least, apple pie and ice cream for dessert.
We were beat from the climb so we went back to the hotel and lights were out by 4pm.
Day 7 October 7
I woke up tired and sore but ready to take the day on!
We went to Aguas Calientes (hot springs) in the morning. TIP: go in the morning when there is fresh water. We arrived there around 5AM. Cost is about $5-6. Once we got over the greenish tinted mineral water, we really enjoyed soaking in the hot water. It's a great way to relax the sore muscles.
We then went to the train station to exchange our tickets for an earlier train back to Ollantaytambo. We left Machu Picchu/ Aguas Calientes at 11AM. The city itself does not have much to do and the mosquitos ate me alive so I was ready to move on to the next city. I think 2 days in Machu Picchu is a good amount.
Off to explore Cusco! Stay tuned for the next post!
Photography by Ashley Gallerani