The day was a typical rainy season day in the Andes… It was wet, but no wind. This day was the start of the “bucket list” event… Today was the day to travel to Aguas Calientes, the town of hot springs at the foot of Macchu Picchu.
The journey from Cusco to Aguas Calientes comprised a bus trip from Cusco to Ollantaytambo and then a magical train ride from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. Our small group of 4 had a very nice lunch at this amazing Cafe at Ollantaytambo station. We all had to get some our lunch put into bags to finish off the meal on the train.
The train wended it’s way through a truly beautiful river valley (the Sacred River). The sheer steepness of the valley sides was quite breathtaking.
Arriving at Aguas Calientes, we settled into our hotel before heading out with Diana on an orientation walk of the town. One of the unique features of the town is the absence of vehicular traffic. The streets are largely narrow walking lanes, and all goods and services are manually moved around the town. Towards the end of this walk, the rain came down in torrents and continued for some time.
We enjoyed a coffee overlooking the Sacred River, looking at the high water mark of a devastating flood in 2011. Later we had a very nice dinner before heading back to our hotel and the more than 600 TV channels (at least 15 different sport channels gave lots of options for catching up on football, and Steven Adams in the NBA (Oklahoma City Thunder).
The next morning started very early to get in the queue to board the bus to Macchu Picchu and to meet our guide Juan. At least 40 mind in the queue. With rain poring down and low mist-like cloud, the journey up the mountain did not offer many viewpoints of note.
And then… There it is, the entrance to Macchu Picchu. The rain stopped and the mist-like clouds came and went as we began our walk around Macchu Picchu. Despite the sun not appearing during our visit, the structure of this amazing place and the surrounding hills could all be viewed. Macchu Picchu is a Quecha phrase (language of the Inca) means “Old mountain”.
Macchu Picchu looms out of the mist:
We learned that Macchu Picchu
- had a spring which gave a constant flow of water;
- Was divided between the farming area, the temple areas and the living (including) schooling areas;
- That the temples and their “windows” were designed to align with sunrise at the summer and winter solstice, and with different phases of the moon;
- The farming areas were terraced and organised to make use of the channelled spring water.
All of this information convey a story that the Inca had considerable scientific and farming knowledge.
The following images attempt to convey some of the story of Macchu Picchu.
After completing the tour of Macchu Picchu we returned to Aguas Calientes to meet up with the 11 trekkers who all completed the Inca trail. I cannot express in words my admiration for what they all achieved, particularly as they had to cope with 2 very rainy days.
The classic image
We (the entire tour party including the Inca trail trekkers) all met in Aguas Calientes for lunch before returning to Ollantaytambo by train and then to Cusco by bus. Needless to say the trekkers were very tired that evening and were looking forward to a relaxing next day and the following evening in Cusco, before the tour moved onto the Altiplano, Puno, and Lake Titicaca.