Machu Picchu – City in the Clouds

​Yes, that’s right, I made it to Machu Picchu. One of the seven wonders of the world, Peru and probably South America’s greatest tourist attraction, I made my way here. Bucket List Item – cross it off! So… What did I think of it then? What’s it like?

Well.

I am well aware of just how unfit I am right now. I didn’t need a visit to Machu Picchu to point it out to me. Just climbing stairs is having a right effect on my breathing right now. I’m at 2400 metres here in Aguas Calientes, and in Cusco I was at 3800 I think it was, so there’s probably an effect of the altitude but I already knew that I Just wasnt’t fit enough to do an Inka trek to Machu Picchu, which is why I took the train to Aguas Calientes and the bus up to Machu Picchu itself. It is the most common way.

Aguas Calientes is a tourist town. It only exists because of the ruins up the hill, and thus it’s souvenir shops, hotels and restaurants and little else. Oh, and we didn’t have internet anywhere in the village for the first 24 hours I was here.

But you know, it’s all right. I heard it had a reputation for shoddy service, but I’ve found people nice enough. I was up at 645 this morning for a quick breakfast and then to the bus. I was going to be a little earlier but it had rained most of the night and outside I could see the gloomy  clouds. 

Here’s me – someone else took it. NOT a selfie!

The bus was 80 soles, that’s $24US, return. To go 8km to the entrance of the ancient city. An increase of 30 soles since my guide book was written. Hmmm. The ride was a bit of a roller coaster around a series of hairpin bends, the driver (both ways) pushed it speed-wise. Still, entrance at just before 8am was quick and easy and I even got a free map into the deal.

I wandered about as did a thousand others, there’s a daily limit to how many can go.There are various buildings and photo opportunities, although most visitors decided it was ‘selfie’ opportunity. People were leaving with photo rolls of over 100 photos of themselves. Seriously.

I looked at my map and decided to walk to the ‘Sun Gate’. Hmmm, I soon found myself on a very steep 45 minute hike. It might have been a little more, but I should add I did NOT go at a fast pace. Although I did pass one guy. Twice my age.

View of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate

The city of the Inkas had been hidden under the clouds, but as I did the walk I turned back to see it as the clouds moved and was able to get a half decent photo or two. There’s no doubt the cloud and mist added to the atmosphere – it did not, however, help for taking good photos. 

The Sun Gate provided a great view of the special mountains, and of Machu Picchu city as the clouds rolled over it again. Timing was everything – really I was pretty lucky. Then I hiked back (much quicker for some reason) to the ruined city and walked about it up to the guardhouse, up more stairs, snapping photos when I could and the clouds allowed. It was a great place to explore – the only issue were the other people.Yep, I’m a tourist too, I understand what I’m saying.

But there’s nothing like a bit of serenity. I found that taking in the view at the Sun Gate. Machu Picchu is indeed beautiful and that little bit magical though, on the side of a mountain seemingly appearing out of nowhere. I think photos will give a much better impression than my words.

I spent around 4.5 hours there and I was cooked, came back for food and a hot shower. Both were muchly needed. So from Aguas Calientes, it’s goodbye from me! (And possibly him) May the Journey Never End.

9 comments

  • Isn’t it just incredible?! We did the Inca Trail which was bloody hard to be honest! The views are out of this world but it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Finally getting to Machu Picchu though made it all worth it. It’s just beautiful up there 🙂

  • So glad you made it there and got a semi-decent view. You were smart to walk away from the major crowds and get that slightly distant perspective. We did the 4-day trail hike in, and of course, the Sun Gate was our first view – so incredible! What’s next? You seem to be on a grand South American tour these days!

    • sorry no real chance to reply whilst away and getting through all the comments now. Yeah the view could have been better. Wish in retrospect I’d got up at the crack of dawn but it was raining hard in town.

  • I know what you mean about other tourists and selfies. But I’m sure Machu Picchu was still worth it! I’ve never been, but it’s on every traveler’s bucketlist, isn’t it? Mine, too 🙂

  • Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

    You made it Andy! Wow! This is totally on my bucket list too – would just love to go one day though I myself have been a bit wary of whether I’m fit enough as I’m pretty sure I’m not!

  • How stunning! I love how the clouds are shrouding the mountains, it makes it look so much more mysterious or atmospheric. Great shots, and great story 🙂

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