If your time is limited (or you can’t talk your teenagers into the 4 day hike 🙂 ) the two day Inca Trail /Machu Picchu option is perfect.
From Cusco, we caught an early morning Inca Rail train heading to Aguas Calientes. Our course snaked along with the river through farmlands, forests, and mountains. We watched the sunrise, enjoyed a nice breakfast, and chatted with a group of British retirees on vacation.
The train stopped and our guide gave us the nod. We grabbed our backpacks and hopped off (we were the only ones). As the train pulled away, our kids laughed at the oddness of being dumped in the middle of nowhere with no train platform only jungle.
Our excitement grew as we crossed the footbridge over the Urubamba River and stopped at the control point to show the park rangers our permits (you have to apply for Inca Trail permits well in advance of your trip).
Here we go!
Chachabamba Archaeological Site
UP! UP! UP!
We stopped at a small, shaded shelter to eat the lunch we had carried with us.
The archaeological site of Wiñay Wayna perches on a mountainside at 8,694 ft
The Inca must have been superhuman to deal with these steps on a daily basis, my sea level lungs were gasping.
We took a brief rest here, taking in the views and listening to our guide explain the history of Wiñay Wayna.
Getting closer to Inti Punku, but first these crazy stairs had to be scaled – the steps were so high and steep we crawled up hands and feet.
BEAUTIFUL! Inti Punku (The Sun Gate) once the main entrance to Machu Picchu.
Look at the smiles! Not only do we see Machu Picchu in the distance, but it’s all downhill from here, YAY!
Truly amazing! And so happy to get some tourist free shots, the site had closed for the day.
We were in time to catch the last bus to Aguas Calientes where we had lodging for the night. We needed a good night’s sleep before exploring the ruins of Machu Picchu the next morning.