Machu Picchu - Entry two

Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Cusco, Peru
Shrouded in a fine mountain mist, Machu Picchu (MP) finally revealed itself just as we had to leave the lofty heights of Wayna Picchu at 10 am - just like 12 months ago when I was at Rio De Janeiro and waited for 2 hours for Christ the Redeemer to show his face.

Earlier at 6.15 am, after listening most of the night to the constant but muffed roar of the fast flowing river outside, I boarded another of the many 29 seater buses and took the 30 minute ride up the road with 14 switchbacks to MP (I counted it this time).

I was no 41 in the 7 am queue who entered the Wayna Picchu part of MP. We had to sign in and out. Only 200 can enter at 7 am and again another 200 at 11 am. This morning only 178 entered at 7 am. Yes, it must be low season.

Because the whole of MP was covered in this mist and you couldn’t see more than 50 metres, I decided to climb first to the top of the small Huchuy Picchu and waited for an hour before the mist clear just enough so I could see part of MP from this low angle.

Signs that the mist would burn off so it was off to the top of Wayna Picchu as I could just see the top of this higher peak from Huchuy Picchu.

If I had gone to the top of Wayna Picchu first, I would have probably descended earlier after seeing just a partial view and missed the full revealing of MP later on when the sun finally broke through.

I am no mountain goat, especially some of the stone slippery steps were small for my big soles. I was glad it was not raining for the descent.

The effect of the second entry was finally rewarded as I saw MP from a different angle and in a different mood with the mist and cloud constantly being swept up and over the ruins. Thank goodness I didn‘t experience it in the rain.

Back down and passing a group of Dakar rally supporters I was back up at the viewpoint that I was a short while ago was looking down at.

Next off to the Inca Bridge, supposably 30 minutes each way. As I had not seen any pictures of this, I had absolutely no idea of what to expect. A stone bridge over a river or side stream? It was a narrow stone bridge under an overhanging cliff face built for one of their trails. Not for the faint hearted! Because of a death several yearsago, it was closed to walk over. It was only a 40 minutes round trip.

After 1 pm and by now I was bushed and with the threatening rain clouds, so after spending a final few moments reflecting on what the Inca’s achieved in this seemingly remote part of the Andes, so high up close to the sun, it was time to leave.

The bus back down to Aguas Calientes, then collected my bag which the hotel had taken to the train station (all part of the service), the wait till my 3.50 pm Vistadrome train ride back to Ollantaytambo. I had hoped for another window seat seeing the other side of the valley (river side) that we travelled along, but alas not so. The wonderful scenery with snow capped mountains besides the muddy and fast flowing river including the terrace with tents pitched where the Inca Trail walkers had to spend their last night as a landslide had blocked the trail for a week. It also explained why we passed various groups of walkers along the railway track as the train left Aguas Calientes.

On the way here, we were after the snack service tempted to buy the usual T shirt and other usual souvenirs. On the return trip, we had a fashion show of some alpaca garment wear modelled by the crew, then the “do you want to purchase - US or Euros we will take“?

Condor Travel had arranged for a car to take me the 1 hour 40 minute drive back to Cusco. I wish it was daytime to take a few photos as this was a wonderful plateau top drive from Urumbamba via Chinchero to Cusco with the Andes in the background, wide open fields with literally no fences. But I left at 5.30 pm as the sun was going down and got into Cusco when it was well and truly dark.

No time for the folk lore show at 8 pm as one had to queue and anyway I wanted a shower, some food (lovely wood fired pizza S/-20 from Nona Trattoria just around the corner from the hotel) and then some much needed zzzz’s.
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