The day started with a train ride to Aguas Calientes. The scenery was beautiful. The route followed the Urabamba River and cut through the valleys of the Andes. In many ways, it looked like parts of California or Switzerland but the geography certainly changed as we got closer to Machu Picchu. Suddenly, there were more trees and a more tropical feel. The train made a pit stop to let out some folks who will brave a one day hike towards the sacred place. An hour and half later, I arrived at Aguas Calientes and was met by my Machu Picchu guide, Julio.
After dropping my luggage at the hotel I will be staying at, my guide and I headed towards the bus station that will take us Machu Picchu. I was pleasantly surprised that he was my private guide. I was fully expecting to be part of a group tour. Anyway, the ride up was breathtaking. It took about twenty-five minutes, including an ascent of about 400 feet, and several jaw dropping twists and turns. I saw the first glimpse of Machu Picchu just as the bus was approaching the site. I was in awe.
The private tour lasted about three hours and covered most of the main areas of Machu Picchu. He explained that the site’s purpose was mostly a vacation place for nobility. There were agricultural sections and residential sections. There were also clear evidences that the site was abandoned and never completed. He said that based on the location of Machu Picchu, the Incas had every intention of expanding towards the Amazon.
The surrounding areas of Machu Picchu made the site even more dramatic. The main town is just as impressive as the trails leading up to it. I took one of the shorter ones, towards the Inka Bridge and still to this day could not comprehend how and why in the world they built those sites in those locations.
Tomorrow, I will go back to Machu Picchu to catch the sunrise and climb Wayna Picchu. Wish me luck!