Travelling to Machu Picchu

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.

Inca Trail

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.

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Commute

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.

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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.

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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.

Next: The Machu Picchu Experience

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The Machu Pichu experience…

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Metro Manila (Transports)

Transport

Transports in Manila can vary from the different regions. Modes of transportations include taxi, buses, trains, boats, pedicabs and the culturally famous tricycle and jeepneys. Whatever the mode you choose in Manila there will always be a big disadvantage, whether crowds, traffic, temperature or even safety.

The easiest way to get around is definitely by owning a car, with one you can get from point to point to a desired destination. However like I said there will always be the downsides, for a tourist to rent a car is dangerous and unrecommendable, drivers in Philippines are irresponsible. Counter flowing, speeding, beating the red light  are some of the many craziness in Philippine roads. There will also be no reliable structure to the roads, apart from worn out road markings, drivers seems to know some kind of make a lane rule, whereas a 3 lane highway could become a 5 lane highway ( just find space and take it). I do not advise tourists or newbies to drive in Manila, leave it to the locals.

Taxi on the other hand is safer, as you relax enjoy the aircon whilst getting through the traffic, whilst letting someone else do the driving. However locating a taxi could be a job in itself, unlike London where a taxi driver would love a passenger, Manila are more likely to turn a passenger away (depending on where you want to go, and how busy it is). After finding  a taxi be careful by drivers who love to cheat and take as much money as possible, meters could be tapped or they may ask for extras because of traffic or distance. Majority of taxis are good and is the most advisable mode of transport in the Philippines, a ride from Heathrow to London by taxi could cost £50 whilst the same distance in Philippines would be in the region of £5-£10 equivalent.

Railways called the MRT/ LRT (don’t know what they stand for) are definatly the quickest way of transport in Metro Manila. The MRT Starts in North EDSA and ends in Taft Avenue a short commute away from the airport in Manila (basically following the EDSA highway). Tickets are cheap at about 12 -45 pesos or 20- 70 pence. MRT/LRT can get very crowded at peek times and thieves do roam around stations, however I do not feel this should discourage tourists to try it.

Tricycles are more of a local type of transport. They never travel more than a mile away from their base/ station. It is like a shopping district to village type of transport, like corner shop to home equivalent in London. Fares vary from distance although usually 15 pesos per person. Sometimes a tricycle can be shared making it cheaper as locals share the fare. I don’t see a lot of foreigners use this mode of transportation as like I said this is usually for Locals with huge amounts of shopping from groceries or markets.

Pedicabs like tricycles are a local mode of transportation. Difference being that instead of a motorbike stuck to a cabin, pedicabs is a pushbike stuck to a cabin. It has the same approach as the tricycle but more cheaper, these can be found at the poorer parts of the city. I believe Pedicabs are for the poor, I have never seen tourists use these, however what do I know.

And finally the Jeepneys, the leftover American military vehicles culturally used as buses. There is never the same looking jeepney as they all have their own independent image, as their owners cover their vehicles in bright colourful artworks. Unlike the ordinary buses around the world Jeepneys can be boarded wherever in the jeepneys journey, you can also get off at anytime by saying “para” which means stop. There is no need for bus stops, this may be the argument for being dangerous or creating traffic. Jeepneys are an interesting but uncomfortable way of travelling, it may be hot, smokey, wet (when raining), crowded and even dangerous at times. However rightly so this mode of transportation still seems to be popular for tourism.

There are many more modes of transportation, like FXs, Boats however these are only in limited areas and are not usually well known.