So off we were on the Hiram Bingham train to the gateway town of Aguas Calientes. We decided not to do the Inca trail, as I had already managed to destroy Lydia with the Lost City hike, so we had no need to go through that again. The train ended up being an enjoyable hour and a half ride that weaves through gorgeous mountains, following the Inca trail and some raging rapids.
The town of Aguas Calientes has a bad rap of being a tourist trap, necessary for those heading to Machu Picchu. We found, to the contrary, that the town was actually quite the beautiful place, full of friendly people and cute dogs practicing their MMA skills (see below video)!
Picture from the Aguas Calientes hot springs.
The downside to Aguas Calientes, however, is its namesake, the hot springs. Although situated in a beautiful setting (see above), we found the Aguas Calientes hot springs to be far from desirable. People go to hot springs to relax and soak up the medicinal minerals of the thermal pools. The hot springs in Aguas Calientes, however, are so full of people (quite literally shoulder to shoulder in every pool) that it is impossible to relax. As far as the medicinal minerals in the hot springs, the only thing that Lydia and I could detect was the pungent aroma of urine wafting up through the masses. I´m no doctor, but I´m pretty sure that aside from killing foot fungus, bathing in other people´s urine can´t be too healthy :(
The goal of this trip was not to go to Aguas Calientes, however, it was to reach Machu Picchu, and so on our second day there, we woke up freakishly early (around 3am) and started trudging through the rainstorm to make it to the bus to take us to the entrance of the ruins.
*Travel tip - if you are planning to go to Machu Picchu, you will have the option of either walking to the ruin´s entrance or to take the over priced bus to the entrance. TAKE THE BUS! Everyone we know that walked to the entrance said that it was nothing special, and that they were totally exhausted by the time they got to the ruins. Believe me that you will have more than enough walking to do once you get there, so spring for the extra $15 and take the bus!
When we first arrived at Machu Picchu, it was cloudy and pouring down with rain. This gave the ruins a rather mystical look, as the fog rolled over the ancient temples. Luckily, the rain stopped after about an hour of walking around the ruins, which made for some better hiking weather.
10 points if you can spot the llama in the above photo.
Most people who go to Machu Picchu know about Wanu Picchu, the high peak beside the ruins in all the photos of Machu Picchu. It is a steep 45+ minute hike straight up that only the first 400 people get to do. The hike is done in two shifts of 200 hikers, so it can get pretty busy from what we have heard. An often neglected peak, that not too many people know about, however, is the peak of Machu Picchu itself, which actually towers over Wanu Picchu (it's about twice as high). Lydia and I got to Machu Picchu early enough to get tickets to Wanu, however, we decided to take the road less travelled, and go to the top of the top by doing Machu Picchu..... also, I thought it would be good to get some privacy for the coming couple of hours...
It takes a bit of work to get to the top of Machu Picchu (about 1 and a half hours straight up), but the amazing views, beautiful smells, and stunning flowers (see above and below) help to keep the spirits high during the slog:
This one looks like a crying lizard!
and she seemed somewhat excited at the time, so as far as I could tell, everything went well;)
An angel posing in heaven.... cue the "aweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees"!
Not surprisingly, the ruins themselves are also breathtaking.
You have to pay close attention to the details and layout of the buildings, as often times they are aligned to represent greater objects like the man's head above. There's also crocodiles, condors, and other building/rock designs within the designs.
This ruined building looks just like me!
Our upgraded room!
For so many reasons, our Machu Picchu experiece will forever be a lifetime hightlight! Not only was it a beautiful location drenched in history with magestic scenery, but it will forever be the place where I got to tie down my love FOREVER! That's right hun, NO ESCAPE! In all seriousness though, I couldn't be luckier, happier, or any more in love!