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Report 2008: Peru - Land of the Incas

By Paula G. Cullison from Arizona, Summer 2011

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Page 5 of 9: To Aguas Calientes

photo by Paula G. Cullison

La Catedral Plaza de Armas - Cusco

On to Machu Picchu: I purchased the Vista Dome train tickets online through go2peru.com, as there was a major problem with the Peruvian train Internet site. The train departure time was 7am and the hotel arranged for a driver to take me to the train station which is about 20 minutes on the outskirts of Cusco.

The train ride was awesome; the scenery was idyllic. The views of the Andes and the green land below were such a stark contrast to the cities. The service on the train was great. I sat in a four seated section with an Ecuadorian couple and a Polish woman who was a speech therapist. The three hour trip was very relaxing and the day was perfect.

Arriving in Aguas Calientes, the town outside of Machu Picchu, I noticed that the train station was adjacent to the arts and crafts market place. This is very clever! There are no vehicles here except for the coach buses which transport the tourists to the entrance of Machu Picchu. All luggage is transported via hand carts. The town is very hilly, so everyone seems to be in great shape. The hotel which I found on the Internet was about a ten minute walk away. The new Green Nature Hotel, where I stayed for three nights, was owned by a young couple. The reasonable rate also included breakfast buffet and free Internet access. I liked this town very much. It was apparent that everyone knew everyone; the children were well behaved and respectful and the inhabitants took pride in their town.

Steps away from the Green Nature Hotel is a highly rated and very expensive Inkaterra eco-lodge. One day, I took a walk around the property which hosts a tropical garden in the cloud forest with plenty of plants and birds. It was beautiful to be sure; however, I was pleased to have saved the money. I found my stay through hotels.com

My strategy was to visit Machu Picchu two days in a row (Sept7 and Sept8) from Noon until 5pm. This would allow me to enjoy a leisurely visit ... after morning coffee and breakfast. As noted, Fernando secured my admission tickets when I was in Cusco. You cannot buy admission tickets at the site. I also saw the ridiculously expensive lodge at the entrance. What a rip-off!

I had great weather on the trip and the days at Machu Picchu were no exception. The air-conditioned coach buses from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu leave often. The fare for the 15 minute ride is a nominal amount. No worries here.

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