Motorcycle the Incas
Day 2: Santa Teresa to Machu Picchu
For a small settlement, Santa Teresa is one hell of a noisy town. Screaming kids and barking dogs, the train-crossing bell ringing constantly and what seemed like people everywhere-way too many people for the number of dwellings that appeared to make up this bustling village-all just running amok. Peruvians definitely love a good fiesta!
Surrounded by mountains that appear to stretch into the heavens, the Santa Teresa route is somewhat of a “back entrance” to Machu Picchu. Popular with motorcyclists and backpackers alike because of the incredible scenery and challenging roads that meander through the mountains and at every turn one false move could lead you down into the abyss, probably never to return. With these sheer drop-offs into ravines, rivers and dense jungle, it’s a ride of a lifetime and if you visit Peru without getting your ass on a motorcycle, you are definitely missing out on a real adventure.
Unfortunately, there are no roads into Machu Picchu, so you have to lock your bike up at either Santa Teresa or at the Hidroelectrica plant, just before the train station and then hike about two hours along the train tracks until you reach the town called Aguas Calientes, which sits at the bottom of the Machu Picchu ruins. (It’s way better than catching a train from Cusco with all those fat and gluttonous touristy-types)
I loaded up my motorcycle and took off into the crisp morning air and hit the dusty and twisty, perilous roads en-route to the Hydrolectrica station. Buses and taxis tore through the mountain passes, a suicidal game of chicken (where I was the chicken) that left me more often than not, pushed nearly to the edge into the ravine or covered in a thick layer of Peruvian dust. Usually a combination of both. The drivers here are just totally insane.
Parking my bike at a small sentry point just before the Hydroelectric, I gathered up my pack and hiked off into the wilderness. The sound of the roaring river and wildlife set amongst the dizzying peaks and jungle, are an amazing spectacle to behold as you take the 2 hour trek into Agua Calientes. It’s definitely a must if you’re keen for an adventure. You will meet many like-minded souls along the way and there was a steady stream of people who were heading in both directions, locals and tourists alike.
There is also a train that runs on these tracks apparently, and its expensive or totally booked so no one seems to bother with it. Along the way you will find a few locals selling refreshments and there are two restaurants along the way as well. It’s a very relaxing and fun way to arrive into Agua Calientes.
Passing exhausted backpackers and skinny-dipping hippies, I finally made it into town. It’s easy to see why this place was hidden from the outside world for so long, it’s just so incredibly inaccessible. Huge mountains all around keep this little place all snug away from the freezing winds and there is the constant sound of the rushing Urumbamba river, that soothes the senses and adds a wonderful ambience to this place.
By now I was exhausted, dirty, covered in insect bites and starving so I headed for my hotel and then went out for pizza and beer Everything is expensive here, it’s just the cost of getting everything transported here I guess, plus the added ‘gringo tax’ that exists everywhere in the Americas.
There are many shops, restaurants and bars and you will find good company quite easily in this bustling small hub of a town. I ate, got myself drunk and then fell asleep, dreaming of the crazy mountain adventure that I was to have at Machu Picchu, the next day.
- Kilometres travelled- 25 900
- Flat tyres- 13 and a 1/2
- Incarcerations- 0
- Q) Are backpackers smelly? A) Yes. Now I know why.
Step One- Santa Teresa to Hidrolectrica train station
Step Two- Hidrolectica to Agua Calientes
…..And check here for all your waypoints!!