Pura Vida Travels - A Guide To Travel In Latin America








I didn't take a ton of pictures or videos on the way to Machu Picchu for several reasons. First, it was raining and kind of dreary so the views weren't the best. Second, I didn't want to kill the battery in my camera before I even got there. Finally, I forgot the cable for my camera so I wasn't sure if I was going to be limited to the 2 gigabytes that the card in my camera holds. This might sound like a lot but video eats up the memory rather quickly. It turned out this wouldn't be a problem since I was able to find a cheap card reader in Lima but until I got one I didn't want to fill up the card.

The train left Cusco at precisely 5:57 AM or 3 minutes AHEAD of schedule so don't be late or you aren't going. I very nearly missed the train (see the complete report) but thankfully I didn't. The first hour is spent negotiating a series of 5 or 6 switchbacks to get out of Cusco. In fact you can go to the Poroy station a few miles away and leave an hour later if you like.

Here's a map of the route:



Leaving Cusco

Leaving Cusco

Leaving Cusco

Shortly before reaching Ollantayambo (pronounced Oh-lee-anne-tom-bo) the train reaches the Urubamba River (The locals call it Bamba) and then follows it for the rest of the trip. Since March is the end of the rainy season in the Andes the river was raging. These were some of the most ferocious rapids Iíve ever seen. To the left and to the right are mountains that reach staggering heights. The train passes by Willka Wekey (19, 356 ft.), Pumawanka (17, 486 ft.), Saguasiray (18,930 ft.), and Salkantay (20,550 ft.). The scenery along the train tracks is a lot like the American Southwest in that there are huge cactus plants and something that looks like giant aloe plants. There are also coca bushes everywhere along the way.


Local Village

Local Village

Ham Sandwich & Cake For Breakfast

Into The Mountains

Into The Mountains

Into The Mountains

The final stop on the train is the town of Aguas Calientes. This town exists for one reason and that is to separate gringos from their money as quickly and efficiently as possible. When you exit the train station you have to walk through a market where you are bombarded with offers to buy things you donít need or want but at great prices. Itís a bit over the top but the most aggressive ďmarketersĒ are right at the entrance and after that itís a pretty cool little town.

Once you run the gauntlet of vendors you have to take a bus to Machu Picchu. The busses are nice, new Mercedes Benz busses and the ride costs $12. The busses traverse a set of about 30 (not sure how many there really are) switchbacks and wind their way from the river valley up to the Sanctuary Lodge at Machu Picchu where the entrance to the park is.



Aguas Calientes

Aguas Calientes

Aguas Calientes

Riding To Machu Picchu

Riding To Machu Picchu

The Busses

My guide was supposed to meet me at 10:45 at the entrance and I arrived at about 10:30. I made good use of my time by checking out the bathroom. It costs a Ĺ sole to use the toilet but it was money well spent because there are no ďfacilitiesĒ once you enter the park. Itís a good idea to take water and snacks with you because there isnít anything to eat or drink inside the park either.

Precisely at 10:45 my guide showed up. His name was Faviola (not sure how to spell it) and he spoke English very well so that made things easy. I have to note that I hadnít planned on taking a guided tour because, well, I HATE them. I like to go at my own pace and see what I want to see and on a guided tour you donít have that option. I have to admit that when visiting Machu Picchu a guided tour is the way to go. The reason I say this is there are absolutely no signs that explain what anything is and I would have been totally lost without a guide. Our guide turned out to be pretty cool in that he kept the group moving and he really knew the history. Iím usually the annoying guy in the group that has the questions that stumps the expert but Faviola seemed to know everything about the place.

BTW, entrance to the park costs around $40...



View From The Snack Bar

Park Entrance

The Only Sign At Machu Picchu

My Guide Faviola

View From Walkway

View From Walkway


Click Here For Pics Of My Journey To Machu Picchu


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