A successful weird little venture which started off in Brazil over to Peru and then ended in Brazil in a quick 10 day holiday. Ive made a compilation of my whole journey.
(please click the city for more about the trip)
Straight from London and my first stop. This part of the trip was and insight to one of Latin Americas richest metropolis.
After a glimpse of life in one of South Americas most developed and rich citiy I go to one of its most undeveloped capitals (In my opinion). Nonetheless the experience was a valuable learning curb. In this Leg I visited Central Lima and the Larco Museum to build the flavour of my trip ahead.
And now it was time to acclimatise and get ready for our main purpose (Machu Picchu). A quick roam around the city, into their market and main points of interest. Getting a feel of rural Peru.
Basing at Ollantaytambo the night before Machu Picchu, so we could get an easier transit to the mountain attraction. However I just fell in love with the village and wished I could have stayed longer. The scenery was just amazing.
Again this village was amazing, it felt like a movie set. A quick snack before and after our trip up Machu Picchu. Very touristic but still a pleasure.
A spectacle to see, the most amazing place I’ve been to. Hiking up Wayna Picchu was also something I’m glad i did, the challenge of those slippery un-barricaded steps was a worry but seeing the famous Machu Picchu from another height and view, it was all worth it.
After an adventurous time across Peru’s smaller rural villages it was time to head back to Cusco and roam the city a bit more. Excursing outside the city with the ATV tours showing us Moray, Salt Mines and more.
Finishing Peru its another round of Lima but this time it was the wealthier Mira Flores, here we did shopping in Larcomar and the Indian markets.
Although the bad reputation, I needed to see the paradise destination for myself. In my opinion well worth the visit and what a way to end the trip.
How to get there
Machu Picchu is one of the most difficult place to reach and the reason for strong planning and research before travelling. Firstly getting to the country Peru is the first hurdle. Remember Cusco is the nearest airport to Machu Picchu but only a handful of international flights actually fly here. So Lima is usually the entry point to the country itself and a flight connection to Cusco is usually the norm as taking bus would take too long. After reaching Cuzco the journey still isn’t over as there is still a mission to get to Aguas Calientes the nearest village to Machu Picchu. There are various options to get from Cusco to Aguas Calientes but 2 popular methods are by doing a 4 day trek called the ‘Inca trail’ and the other is by commuting to a town called Ollantaytambo then taking train to Aguas Calientes.
First method is the world famous ‘Inca Trail’. Now I don’t know too much about this as I didn’t do this method but from what I am told it is a 4 day walking journey from either Cusco or Ollantaytambo. The Inca trail is for the adventurous travellers and this method of reaching Machu Picchu is definitely the more scenic way.
The other method to get from Cusco to Aguas Calientes is by commuting. It is important to remember that there is no direct trains from Cusco straight to Aguas Calientes and a stopover at Ollantaytambo is inevitable, making the travel to Machu Pichu a 2 phase journey.
The Cusco to Ollantaytambo trip (about 1.5-2 hours) can be done in various ways with the easiest being a private taxi which I could imagine to be expensive. Another way is by taking what is called the shared taxi which is usually a van (sometimes a car) that takes a bunch of travellers to Ollantaytambo at once. The positive with shared taxis is that it is very cheap at only 10 soles or 20 soles for a smaller car. The bad is that there is no timetable and the journey only starts when the van is full, which is not good for people on a tight schedule. Other ways to get to Ollantaytambo is by bus but this could prove to be too complicated for travellers as there is a couple of changes.
Once at Ollantaytambo the next phase can begin and its much simpler than the first phase. All you need is to buy a train ticket at one of the 2 operating companies Peru Rail or Inca Rail (the more luxurious option). The train journey takes about 2-3 hours and depending on your operator includes a complimentary drinks and a snack. (Peru Rail will discussed on a separate blog) Please note that there is a baggage size and a 5kg weight limit.
One thing I didn’t mention is that Peru rail and Inca rail do offer complete transport from Cusco to Machu Picchu but a higher cost is expected. They will arrange their own bus to and from Cusco and Ollantaytambo.
After arriving at Aguas Calientes another short bus ride is required to get to Machu Picchu itself. There is only one official bus ride and it is quiet pricey. The only other way is to hike 1.5 hours up to the location. However I highly advise to take a ride up as there is plenty of walking at the site itself.
Once the bus drops you off at the entrance of the Machu Pichu site, your journey is done. You have arrived at one of the greatest places in the world to visit, all there is to do now is to enjoy.
5th leg of my Brazil/Peru trip
Type : Rural Mountainous
Best Date : Apr – Oct
Expense : Medium
Things to do :Hiking
Points of Interest: Machu Pichu, Huayna Pichu, Putucusi, Inca Bridge, Temple of the moon, ect
The Good: Excellent scenery
The Bad: Very small village
Aguas Calientes is the village nearest to the famous Incan ruin of Machu Pichu, also in the Urabamba province within the Cusco region. The village has an altitude of 2,040m and is only 6km away from the Machu Pichu site.
Like Ollantaytambo, Aguas Calientes is a small rural village which has its own unique charm. Although its attractions nearby are the main reason for the influx of tourists, the architecture and scenery is just something out of the ordinary. People who stay in this village may only be staying to acclimatize to the altitude or maybe to get some rest before or after their visit to Machu Picchu. In my opinion this small village is a great place and to stay here for one or 2 nights is a privilege.
Aguas Calientes has a handful of magical attractions to visit, most notable is ‘Machu Picchu’ the Incan citadel on top of the Andes Mountain. In order to reach this attraction from Aguas Calientes you would either need to hike 1.5 hour up the mountain or take a shuttle ride up. Although very expensive I do advise to take the shuttle ride up as Machu Pichu itself has plenty of long walks. Once in Machu Picchu there will be a couple of private tour guides if you want to take them (for a price), I definitely do regret not taking one of them as I learnt very little about the site itself. Once entering, there is plenty of different routes within Machu Picchu itself, all showing the different angles of the Incan ruin. I didn’t plan a specific route but me and my brother opted to just go higher and higher. Once committing to a route its a little hard to go back or do another route as there are plenty of ups and downs.
Behind Machu Pichu is ‘Huayna Picchu’ or ‘Wayna Picchu’ which is the higher mountain that the more adventurous travellers hike up for a better view and a higher adrenaline rush. The lower levels of the mountain is easy however as you go higher the ancient steps get steeper and much narrower with not much to hold onto. I would like to stress that the mountain is a little dangerous with full view of the heights above and the drop below, there is also very little barriers and although marshals are said to roam the mountain I did only see one. Only a total of 400 people are allowed up this mountain a day, 200 on the morning (07:00 – 10:00) and another 200 in the afternoon (11:00-14:00) because of its popularity I highly advise to book in advance.
Puntucusi is another mountain opposite Machu Picchu on the other side of the vilcanota river, which is free to hike with a challenge. The good thing about this mountain is that it is relatively unknown to the masses of tourists. However this is ungoverned and there are no wardens so care is required.
One way to relax in Aguas Calientes is their hot spring baths which is a nice way to relax if you have done the 4 day trail. This hot spring have strict rules and require full swimming attire, towels and sandals. It is complete with showers, changing rooms and a snack bar.
There are other attractions such as the ‘Temple of the moon’, ‘Sayacmara’, ‘Puyutamarca’ and many more which makes Aguas Calientes very attractive as a place to stay for a little longer than people plan.
Overall Aguas Calientes for me was a marvellous place to be in, the rail tracks and old rustic structures were a pleasure although many aspects such as food and drinks in the village were expensive as it would be more profitable from tourists. The traditional markets also have nice souvenirs which are again pricey at first but easy to haggle for a good and cheap price. Finally again the same as Ollantaytambo the scenery is majestic a wonderful panoramic place to be around, if I had the chance I would have stayed longer.
4th leg of my Brazil and Peru trip.
Type : Rural
Best Date : Apr- Oct
Expense : Medium
Things to do : Hiking
Points of Interest: Pinkuylluna, Temple del sol, Ollytaytambo sanctuary, ect
The Good: One of the best scenery from within a village
The Bad: Small not too much to see, limited restaurants and shops
Ollantaytambo is a small town which is a famous archaeological site, it is enroute Machu Pichu in the Urubamba province within the Cusco region. A popular starting point for the 3 to4 day Inca trail. It has an altitude of 2,792m above sea level and is known to be located in what is called the sacred valley of the Incas.
Many Machu Pichu visitors intend to stay somewhere close to the popular mountain attraction the night or day before their visit. Ollantaytambo is a small village in between Cusco city and Aguas Calientes (nearest village to Machu Picchu). The trains to Machu Picchu (Peru Rail and Inka Rail) only operates from Ollantaytambo as there is none from Cusco.
Due to the complexity of the travel from Cusco to Ollantaytambo and our early train ticket we opted to stay in Ollantaytambo so we were just walking distance away from the train station (not needing a 1-2 hour bus ride from Cusco) and just a short train ride away from Aguas Calientes.
Ollantaytambo has a marvellous appeal but it is small and has limited points of interest. The main attraction is the Pinkuylluna which is an archaeological site on top of a mountain (with the same name), this was used by the Incans for granaries and storehouses. To enter this though you would need an entrance ticket of about 130 soles (about £35). There is also the Incan Bridge which is also an attraction with significant history although not too impressive.
After these there is not much to plan for whilst visiting Ollantaytambo. However the village itself and its surroundings is the sole reason for visiting and staying a night or two. A very old town which is probably only improved for tourist accessibility and comfort. The small river is also an additional beauty to this town and there is a few cafes situated next to it. Lastly there is a brilliant market just outside the entrance to Pinkuylluna, they had excellent traditional handmade products from local material like Alpaca fur and others alike. Surprisingly the products were also fairly priced which was an added bonus as it was located in front of a tourist attraction.
Overall Ollantaytambo is your small cute village that is out of the ordinary, it is mainly used for transit to Machu Pichu but i can confidently say you would lose out if you don’t roam this beautiful Peruvian country village. The scenery itself is a pleasure to be surrounded by and there is not too many tourists to disturb the peace and serenity of the area, so hiking here would be nice scenic and peaceful. A night or two is a good duration to roam Ollantaytambo, to visit but also to take a smoother unrushed transit to Machu Pichu.