Tuesday, February 7, 2017
On our way to the train station this morning, we rode by Skylodge Adventure Suites in Calca. These are glass suites on the side of a mountain, accessible only by climbing to them. The cost to stay in one of these suites is over $400 per night. You can hike there as well, and zipline down if you so choose.
We boarded the Perurail Vistadome Train in Ollantaytambo. The train cars have windows above the passengers as well as on the sides, giving us some great views of the mountains, farms and river as we rode by on our way to Aguas Calientes, or Machu Picchu Pueblo.
In Aguas Calientes, we took a bus to Machu Picchu, which means “Old Mountain.” Machu Picchu is believed to have been a retreat for the Inca Pachacutec (1438-1572.) Set at an elevation of about 8,000 feet, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hiram Bingham was the first non-native to see the site in 1911. It was one of the few Inca strongholds not found and destroyed by the Spanish conquistadors. Bingham was searching for another Inca site when some local farmers told him of this one. In partnership with National Geographic, Bingham spent many years excavating this site.
I was not prepared for the immensity of Machu Picchu. When entering the site, you walk along a pathway, turn a corner, and there it is in all of its glory. It took our breath away. We only had a few hours to visit, a few days would be required to do this place full justice. We did a lot of walking and climbing, yet covered only a fraction of the park.