Getting There in Machu Picchu

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Flora at Machu Picchu

Nick Adams

By Train The traditional and most frequent is by train from Cusco to the station of Aguas Calientes. This service offers the following categories:

"Autovagón" (Main wagon) (US $55): Daily departures at 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., boarding service, lunches; return at 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. the trip lasts an average of 3 hours and it is direct.

The train has Vistadome service and backpacker. Daily departures The trip lasts a little more than 3 hours, and it makes stops in some intermediate towns.

When arriving to Aguas Calientes, small buses can be taken that ascend the mountain and transport you to the citadel.

The train line runs parallel to some parts of the Urubamba River, and the trip itself is a show for the beautiful landscapes that you observe.

Walking, "The Inca trail" For those that have about seven exclusive days for the visit to Machu Picchu and are also adventure lovers, the walk through the "Inca trail" is recommended. This route has become the favorite of many tourists and only last year, more than 15 thousand people followed these roads to arrive to Machu Picchu.

This hiking begins at Kilometre 82 of the railroad Cusco - Aguas Calientes, in Ollantaytambo. Lead by guides and in groups not smaller than 10; you arrive to Machu Picchu after 4 days, after traveling 40 kms. (24.85 miles) by the old Inca stone road, on the edge of the Urubamba canyon. The road crosses the Inca ruins of Patallacta, Huallabamba, Runku Rakay, Sayacmarca, Phuyu Pata Marca and Wiñaywayna. Besides captivating natural landscapes, water falls, tunnels, abundant flora and fauna, amid the exuberant vegetation for being near the forest, with view to the snowy mountains, and with pure air free of any vestige of contamination; ideal for birdwatching. The service of mountain guides, includes all the equipment, feeding, tents, carriers, etc. There exist routes for hiking of smaller duration; one that leaves from Km.104 of the railroad crosses the ruins of Wiñaywayna and after a few hours arrives at Machu Picchu.

The journey is hard work, but can be completed by anyone of moderate fitness with a desire to reap the rewards of their exertions - the first view of the citadel, looking down from the Sun Gate above the valley, is worth every weary step. The efforts given in scaling Dead Woman's Pass will live particularly long in the memory, however - the seemingly endless stairs and equally lengthy descent from the peak offer both stupendous vistas and aching limbs to the hiker, especially when snow falls (even in the height of summer). A variety of clothing is needed in anticipation of the erratic conditions.

In all these routes lodgings of "Instituto Nacional de Cultura" (National Institute of Culture) exist where you can spend the night, and the roads are signaled - in spite of it, it is recommended to hire the services of an experienced mountain guide.

Be advised that because of new regulations (in effect from march 2005) you will need to book your permit for the inca-trail well in advance (for july-august more than 3 months), because all permits have to be bought with a name and passport-number and are non transferable and because of this they can't be bought by tour-operators in advance.

Contributors
December 02, 2004 change by puggers
December 02, 2004 change by giorgio
July 31, 2005 change by el_rio

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