Day 123 and 124 Cusco to Machu Picchu and Back January 5 and 6
What a fantastic couple of days it’s been. I received a message from Kyle and Trevor who are fellow Albertans that they were in Cusco. They wondered if I was going to take the “back way” to Machu Picchu. I wasn’t sure about doing it alone but if they were up for it I wanted to do it. With 1 minute before they closed I found a Peru Cultural office and bought a ticket to Machu Pichu. There is a maximum of 2000 people per day permitted on the mountain so you want to get the ticket in advance. The guys didn’t get tickets so they decided to take their chances and buy them in Agua Caliente.
I arranged to meet them at their hostel at 6am so we could get the 5 hour ride in early. The guys rode their machines out of the hotel and we were off in the rain. After a short bit of gravel we stopped at Urumbamba to check tire pressures and carried on into the valley. Ollantaytambo was our next city which is flanked by Inca ruins and has streets paved in cobblestones.
From there to Santa Maria the road is paved and has one switchback after another. There are obviously some dangerous curves as evidenced by the wreck of a truck that had tumbled very far down a steep embankment.
Looking down at the wreck
Climbing to 14,000 feet we were very cold and wet but the roads are fantastic. The downward side of the pass dropped us to a more mild temperature at 5,000 feet. From Santa Maria we traversed a wet dirt road for 20km to Santa Teresa.
Trevor and Kyle
We found a hostel to store the bikes overnight for 5 soles each. In the hostel we were surprised to find two other bikes from Alberta, amazing in such a remote place.
We hopped in a taxi for the 25 minute ride to Hidroelectrica, the terminus for the railroad and a large hydro electric project. In hindsight we paid too much for the taxi ($16) but it got us there safely. Along the way we saw the huge tunnel that has been bored into the mountain to bring more water to the hydro project.
At the end of the road we started walking along the railroad tracks toward Machu Picchu. We encountered numerous hikers walking the other way and a few trains too.
The river was very high and angry
Upon reaching Agua Caliente we sought out a hostel and found a place called Angie’s for $12 each.
The next morning we got up at 4am so we could get in line to catch the bus up the mountain. We purchased tickets the night before for the $18 return trip. We got on the first bus at 5:30 and arrived at the park gate just before it opened. The fog was thick and visibility fluctuated form terrible to average for the next two hours.
Inside the park there is a tremendous amount of stairs and climbing. I was really worn out from the hike yesterday so I decided I had seen enough. I took a bus back down the mountain while the guys stayed to wait for the fog to clear.
I’m glad I made it to Machu Picchu where my parents visited some 40 years ago. It’s disappointing that it was so foggy but I saw enough to be amazed at the ingenuity of the people that built it.
No roads and no trucks in town so all goods are moved around like this
There were a few of these dogs wandering around with custom made clothing. A hairless breed but quite big, maybe 40 pounds.
Last night we also purchased a return train ticket to Hidroelectica for $22 each. The train left at 12:30pm and by the time we retrieved our bikes and got going it was 2:30. Fortunately the road to Santa Maria was bone dry, fast and fun. The water crossings were a bit larger but no problem for the DR650 bikes.
We needed fuel but there was no gas stations around so we found this shack for a fill.
Along the paved road from Santa Maria to Cusco we stopped to watch a crew winching out the wreck of the truck we had seen at the bottom of the hill yesterday. It was a mess and sadly looked un-survivable.
Ollantaytambo was crazy with some sort of celebration and it took a long time to get through the partying crowds.
We reached Cusco after dark at about 8:00 and got a room at Alejandro’s Hotel for $10 each