Perfectly matching and rounded stones are forming the walls of the Inca ruins near Cusco. Pisac, Ollantaytambo, ‘Sexywoman’ and most importantly ‘Machu Picchu’. We discover the Sacred Valley and take the train to Aguas Calientes to visit the Inca ruins of all Inca ruins.
The Sacred Valley
Not far from Cusco is the Sacred Valley, where the Incas lived back in the 16th century and by the looks of the many ruins, there must have been a lot of them! Together with Paul and Jan we rent a taxi which brings us to Pisac and Ollantaytambo. These ruins are situated against steep mountains and terraces lead deep into the valleys. Hordes of tourists are climbing through ancient times like ants. And yes, we too, are walking here with our cameras. To capture the perfectly fitting stones, not an inch is separating these huge grey stones. That must have been a hell of a job, but very impressive to see. Last but not least we visit Saqsayhuaman, better known as ‘Sexywoman’, which is situated close to Cusco on a hill overlooking the colonial town. Almost all the walls here are built with these huge stones.
Is it a tourist trap? Or worth the money? Indeed, to visit the mother of all Inca ruins, you need to dig into your wallet. The train to Aguas Calientes, a hostel for two nights, the bus early in the morning, the entrance fee… It all ads up! But, other than hiking either the Inca trail or the railroad itself, there is no road. There’s a maximum of 500 hikers a day for the Inca trail and it’s fully booked months ahead. Lazy as we are, we book the train!
We leave the luxurious Hiram Bingham train for what it is and are able to buy tickets on the cheaper ‘Expedition’ train, which brings us in 4 hours through canyons to Aguas Calientes. It’s an early night, because the next morning we have to get up at 3:30 AM!
It’s pitch dark, but there’s a lot of movement on the streets. Hordes of tourists are getting in line for the first bus up to Machu Picchu to catch the sunrise, we get in line after passing 200 meters of other sleepy heads!
Bus number 13 (our lucky number) takes us up to the entrance, but ohoh.. it’s very misty! Not a good day to visit MP… So, no sunrise for us, but instead a thick wall of clouds. We take a selfy with a white haze in the background, but nothing more to see. We’re laughing, but as the Dutch say: like a farmer with a toothage! Every now and then the clouds lift a bit and we get to see this majestic place with in the background Huana Picchu. It’s breathtaking. There’s no other Inca place like Machu Picchu.. its location is spectaculair and it’s quite big too: lots of houses, temples and terraces. And because it’s so big, the hordes spread out and it doesn’t look as crowded as the other places we’ve visited.
It feels good to just walk around here, climbing up to the caretakers hut and the Inca bridge and luckily for us the mist dissapears and we even get to see the sun!
I can’t speak for others, but for us, it was definately worth the money.