On 11th July, I started my journey to Machu Picchu. It became a journey not as expected. It all started in the morning with problems with my tour agency. The numbers on my train tickets and entrance ticket of Machu Picchu didn’t match with the number in my passport. It gave me so much stress! Then Jose (the guy from the travel agency) put me in a small bus to Ollantaytambo. (Ollantaytambo is a town and an Inca archaeological site in southern Peru some 60 kilometres northwest of the city of Cusco.) I assumed that this group of tourists would be my group for the whole two days: NOT! When we arrived in Ollantaytambo I found out that all tourists had different times for the train and mine was last. I had to wait 4 hours alone in this village! I mean hello!! I didn’t expect to spend so much time alone. Then the driver was so eager to give me a lift back to the central square in Ollantaytambo. Me (young but not ignorant) declined friendly. After he drove away, I took a Tuktuk which was a unique experience by itself.
I went to the archaeological site to view the extensive set of agricultural terraces which start at the bottom of the valleys and climb up the surrounding hills. I only wanted to take some pictures and there was a big line in front of the entrance gate so I managed to take some photos via the exit. Since there was no guard standing at the exit at that moment, I was able to take some better pictures. If there was someone who actually said something about it, I would play the dumb tourist. So I walked further and went up to the top and I can tell you it was exhausting! The Incans were really pros at architectural design and fond of stairs. Definitely worth the climb as the view was spectacular. Only because I know I won’t do this again, so it truly was once in a lifetime.
The terraces permitted farming on otherwise unusable terrain; they also allowed the Incas to take advantage of the different ecological zones created by variations in altitude. The terraces at Ollantaytambo were built to a higher standard than common Inca agricultural terraces, for instance, they have higher walls made of cut stones instead of rough fieldstones.
The second reason for visiting this archaeological site was The Battle of Ollantaytambo which took place in January 1537, between the forces of Inca emperor Manco Inca and a Spanish expedition led by Hernando Pizarro during the Spanish conquest of Peru. In any case, the Inca army managed to hold the Spanish forces from a set of high terraces and flood their position to hinder their cavalry. Severely pressed and unable to advance, the Spaniards withdrew. Unfortunately this victory was only temporary.
Later in the afternoon I took the train locomotive to Aguas Calientes which was an amazing rail travel experience. The seats were great, the train had vintage collapsible tables, panoramic windows and stunning views of the Peruvian Andes. Drinks and snacks were served in suit. One word: AMAZING!
Lets skip the bad parts about my hostel and Aguas Calientes and go directly to my fantasy: When I sat in the train and in the bus to Machu Picchu I felt like I was on an expedition like in the Disney movie Tarzan and Jane (but then the modern version). On the mountains, into the forest of Borneo, searching for apes. (In my case lamas and on my wonderful expedition I found Machu Picchu!)
Back to chronological order: I needed to stand in line with hundreds of other tourists at 5:00 AM to take the bus to Machu Picchu. I was SO HAPPY that I didn’t do the Inca Trail. I am so not suitable for that! At Machu Picchu my guide was waiting for me and eventually disappeared after 20 minutes when I was taking a picture with another tourist. Well, we enjoyed ourselves the rest of the day. So, I don’t know the history of Machu Picchu but I enjoyed every freaking minute of the view! I took over 650 photos of only this place! If you are ever planning to go to South America, definitely visit Machu Picchu. It certainly is a world wonder.
Additionally, I walked the trail to the Inca Bridge that heads west from Machu Picchu. It was built by the Incas as a secret entrance to Machu Picchu for the Inca army. Before doing this trail I needed to write down my name, gender, country of origin, signature and the time you started the trail. I was thinking that this was for a kind of database where they keep records of tourists. Stupid me!!! You are obligated to sign when you return and if they don’t see a signature at the end of the day, they will look for your first on the trail or search for your body in the cliff….Woops! The trail was parallel with no guard rails, so one would have to be very agile and not afraid of heights! The trail was well maintained, but you need to watch your step because the trail is located in a mountainous relief. I am not afraid of heights but at some points my heartbeat raised. If you don’t like looking down (+-600 meter), don’t do it!
I walked from 5.30 AM to 3.30 PM in Machu Picchu. A wonderful, magical and breathtaking place!
FYI: This Lama was freaking in LOVE with me!