Getting to the iconic Machu Picchu proved to be daunting, mainly because a regional protest around the archeological sites against privatization of the parks stranded me in Ollantaytambo for a couple of days.
Parks were closed around the Sacred Valley, and the main way to get to Aguas Calientes, today renamed as Ciudad Machu Picchu, were also canceled.
However, the day has come and I am finally aboard the Inca Rail on my way to see the sacred place.
The train ride is majestic and very much worth taking, with much to enjoy. The winding tracks are stamped deep into the valley, and the views are absolutely spectacular. On one side is the Urubamba river, and on the other side corn fields. Some of them even take advantage of the terraces built hundreds of years ago by the Inca. The river flows quickly, showing intense rapids and rocks almost racing the convoy to get to Aguas Calientes first. Looking up, the Andes mountains and some of its snowy peaks seems to greet me in anticipation of the journey ahead.
All of a sudden not everything is going as planned, and the road to Machu Picchu is starting to become a truly “mystical experience.” After being stranded by the strike in Ollantaytambo, the train is now fully stopped. A derailed wagon ahead prolongs the wait for over three hours in the middle of nowhere. It was so bad that the train never made it to the station, and I ended up walking along the tracks under the rain for almost an hour to reach Aguas Calientes. (Some iPhone photos below.)
It is 4:30 AM and the phone alarm is going off. It feels like I just went to bed – the journey that got me here was exhausting – but I am finally going to see and take photos in Machu Picchu and that pumps me up. Along with the Amazon this is one of the high points of the trip to Peru, and has been part of my bucket list for a long time. The first bus to the citadel departs from Aguas Calientes at 5:30 AM, and with that, our group wanted to be first in line. We hope to beat the crowds and enter the site as soon as it opens so we can take photos as early as possible.
The Inca citadel doesn’t need much introduction: UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, but these are just some of the accolades it has received. Machu Picchu is often listed as a must-see spot of the world and the best-known archeological site in South America. Above the Sacred Valley and surrounded on three sides by the Urubamba, the place sits between the mountains of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, with spectacular views of the valleys below. Because of its location the morning mists often add some spectacular mysticism. There are over two hundred buildings and structures around the complex arranged in various compounds and levels. The classical Inca architectural style of polished stone walls of regular shapes and the typical terraces were also used here. I wandered around, taking photos for over an hour, until the site started to fill up with visitors making it almost impossible to get a clear shot. I felt glad to have been on the first bus and accessed it early. After a while I bagged the camera and simply explored while enjoying the vistas and thinking of how lucky I was to be there; after all, Machu Picchu had been on my bucket list for many years and I had finally made it.
All the photos of my Peru trip were taken with the Fuji X-T1 and a range of different Fuji lenses. All the photos from Machu Picchu and Peru are available for prints and licensing. For more information just click on the images.
That’s all for now, more travel photos coming soon.