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travelalain Aguas Calientes - A travel report by Alain
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Aguas Calientes,  Peru - flag Peru -  Huánuco
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travelalain's travel reports

the mythical city of Machu Picchu

  19 votes
Page: 1 2
report of the month contest
Apr 2004

Aguas Calientes travelogue picture
For many people is Peru a synonym for Machu Picchu, tell them that you go to Peru and they will immediately ask if you are going to Machu Picchu. It's a mythical place and that's why everybody who goes to Peru and Cusco will end up in Machu Picchu, the old mountain. It was the highlight of our trip and it was also the end of our trip. Machu Picchu the old Inca City discovered by Bingham and forgotten in time, I always dreamed about seeing this city of the Inca's. It started by reading the books of Jommeke and Kuifje - Tin Tin and I felt a attraction that pulled me to Peru. But Peru is much more then Machu Picchu, but this place is a magnet for all the tourists.

Favourite spots:
Aguas Calientes travelogue picture
We did a 4 day walk across the Inca trail to get there and we saw lot's of things and had a very good time although it was hard sometimes. But in the end seeing Machu Picchu made it worth while. All the endurance, hardship accompanied by the amazing scenery, old ruins, good friends and a good team around the guides made this trip an experience never to forget. So join me in the footstep of the Old Inca's en explore the region via the ancient Inca trail and set foot in Machu Picchu and see the wonders that the Inca's build. Remember Inca's build to last, all those buildings survived earthquakes and the Spanish buildings collapsed. It's a sad relic of what once was a mighty empire that stretched from Chili to Ecuador. It learns us also that when people don't respect each others culture and beliefs, you can have a big destructive power. So luckily Machu Picchu was already forgotten by the Inca's in the time that the Spaniards arrived.

What's really great:
Aguas Calientes travelogue picture
The Inca Trail is approximately 32 km long and the most people start at Km 88, off the railway line. The trail passes several archaeological ruins along the route. But what most people don't know is that you cross 9 different ecological areas which are located between 2000 and 6000 metres.

The trail is also occupied by more than 400 species of orchids, begonias, trees and much more. So walking the Inca trail is not only an adventures walk into history, it's also or a hike into the mountains and nature.

At the present time the Inca trail uses three routes; and they all start in the following order: The first starts at km 82nd in Chilca, this is the furthest you can go by bus. It goes for 4 days and three nights. This is the longest and the best. The second starts at km 88th, where you usually get by train and it joins the one before after a couple of kilometres. The most people will start from this end. The third one is a two day trip and leaves at km 104.

Sights:
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The sights are amazing because you walk for 4 days across the Andes and you can see the high peaks and the valleys below. You will walk over a path that they call Inca Flat, and yes this means going up and down. When you step through this incredible piece of nature, you see some more Inca buildings like: Intipata, Llaqtapata, Sayaqmarka, Puyapatamarca , Inca Tunnels, Winawayna. Or what to say if you can have a glance at the snowy white peak of the Salcantay. You will never regret one second of this Inca trail.

Accommodations:
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Our accomadation is a small tent on a campground.

It's indeed a joint effort to create our sleeping place on the Inca Trail. The organisation United Mice provides the porters and tents and builds them up for us every evening and takes them down every morning. They also have a kitchen and a dinner tent, so a very good organisation. The porters sleep under the stars, even when it rains.

Now you think what do we have to carry then, well we carry our own bed, and that is a sleeping mat and a sleeping bag. So you can see it's a joint effort.

Some tourists choose for the VIP treatment, they carry only the things they need during the day a luxurious hike if you ask me.

The campgrounds on the Inca Trail are all excellent and foreseen from good facilities. They have long drops (it takes a long time before you hear certain things drop when you go to the toilet. -lol-) and flushing toilets.

There are washbasins with cold running water so you can refresh yourself, brush your teeth..

Nightlife:
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What nightlife??

Well nightlife is what happens during the night, I can assure you that during the night you will be sleeping in your sleeping bag inside your tent. Around 20h00 the lights start to go out and soon it's all dark. Around 21h00 most people are sleeping besides some brave who decide to look to the amazing stars in the sky or the rising of the moon behind the mountains.

The nightlife is very calm and there will not much people bother you, the second busiest thing in 30 km around you is the dinner tent of the other tour company and I can assure you they go to bed as early as you do.

Here you can see some of us having our dinner while we are chatting about the things we have seen and experienced that day.

Don't forget the Dress Code: A nice and fresh new T-shirt :-)

Hangouts:
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The only place that you can compare with a pub is the The Winawayna campsite cafeteria.

In this campsite you have a cafeteria where you can order food and most important: beer. When you do the 4 day Inca trail, this is the first beer that you see since you left Cusco. I can tell you that everybody goes to that cafeteria for some or more beers to celebrate the finish of the Inca Trail, because after today it's an easy hike towards Machu Picchu.

Some stay long, others go back to their own campsite to celebrate El Camino del Inca together with the porters. Well we formed a family as they said, so we had to study a dance for them. And because kabouter Plop is popular in our country, we did the kabouterdans and we had to do it twice, they loved it and they joined in.
Ooh and the Dress Code: your smelly stinky clothes and some slippers although I changed into a T-shirt that I had worn every evening on the trail.

Restaurants:
Aguas Calientes travelogue picture
The most famous restaurant is the carry your own and it's located in the dinner tent.

In the historical site of Machu Picchu itself you only have the cafeteria at the entrance, the other restaurants are all located in Aguas Calientes, the village nearby. There are several good restaurants near the train track and you can even dine with the train standing next to your table.

But when you do the Inca trail, you have a walking restaurant with you. Our tour company United mice has a cook and his aid for making those lovely dinners. We were each time amazed that they could prepare such a delicious meal so high in the mountains. The porters have to bring all the food and cooking equipment with them during the whole trip.

The waiters are superb, yes, they are, because once they place the food on the table, you scoop your own food into your dish. The menu card is excellent and very healthy. The order of beverages is limited to coffee, thee or water, but that's fine.

Other recommendations:
Aguas Calientes travelogue picture
The name Sayaqmarka means Inaccessible Town. You will see Sayaqmarka when you are descending the Trail from the Second Pass. When you approach the bottom of the valley, you will have to go up a small steep Inca stair to reach Sayaqmarka. Nothing for me with my fear of heights, but I can manage it foot by foot and very easy. Going down takes me even longer. It's located at a height of 3685 metres.

In Sayaqmarka there are about 25 rooms, 4 fountains and some aqueducts. Archaeologists found here dry provisions and this means that Sayaqmarka was an administrative place where the provisions where gathered and send further down the road. When you look careful, you see here 4 Inca trails that all come together, these are coming from the highlands, the high jungle, the low jungle and from Machu Picchu.

From Sayaqmarka you have a very good view over the surrounding valley but the weather today is very changeable, one minute we are in the burning sun and the next minute we see the mist.

Published on Sunday April 18th, 2004


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Fri, Dec 16 2005 - 05:27 AM rating by jorgesanchez

magnifico!

Sat, May 08 2004 - 06:16 PM rating by whereisliz

I have dreamed of seeing Machu Picchu since I was 10... Thanks for fueling those dreams.

Fri, Apr 23 2004 - 09:41 AM rating by inkolor

Very nice report... makes me want to go to Cusco right now!!! Best regards. Ingrid

Sun, Apr 18 2004 - 12:49 PM rating by christianj.

Hi Alain, that's an impressive report! All the details and the way you describe your adventure - Congratulations! Regards, Christian

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