Motorcycle the Incas
Days 3-5: Machu Picchu
The tourist mecca that is Machu Picchu is an incredible achievement. Set amongst dizzying peaks and the jungle wilderness of Peru, the Incas carved out a legacy that has yet to be superseded. The only thing that comes close would be the great pyramids of Egypt, but imagine building a citadel on a similar scale, on top of treacherous mountain peaks at over three thousand feet! It really is fascinating to behold in person.
And the level of workmanship is absolutely stunning as well, with millimetre precision that lock all the stones in place and an intricate water diversion system, clearly make the early Incas a damn fine bunch of engineers.
The town at the base of Machu Picchu is called Agua Calientes and can only be reached via train from Cusco/Ollantaytambo, or if you’re the adventurous type you can go the ‘back route’ via Santa Teresa to the Hydrolectrica train station and hike along the tracks until you reach the town. It’s about 10km and an easy 2 hour hike through the mountains, along the Urumbamba river. Pretty cool, hey!
I recommend hiking as it’s just you VS the jungle (biting insects included!) If you are riding a motorcycle, you can park your trusty steed just before the Hydrolectrica train station and for 10 Peruvian soles (per day) they will watch your bike and all your gear will be under lock and key. Very safe and reliable!
Agua Calientes is a bustling hive of activity with over 1500 backpackers, vagabonds and retirees arriving at the place any given day. The restaurants are overpriced but the food is good and there are some pretty sweet hot springs to soak your fat tourist ass in when your finished trekking about the place. Spending a day up in the mountains is quite an achievement in itself. Firstly if you want to miss the crowds you need to get up around 3.30-4.00 am. The bus stop will have hundreds of people waiting if you leave any later.
Expect a LOT of waiting in lines. You can walk up the mountain if you prefer (instead of catching the bus) and this will take you about 1-2 hours, depending on how fat a tourist you are. When you reach the Machu Picchu entry point you will have hundreds of people lining up to get in. Make sure you bring your ticket and passport! They check both! When you finally get in, be prepared for people to be a slow as all buggery and just randomly stop in front of you to take a selfie (even if there are 100 people walking along the path behind them)
Here you will see the ‘iphone selfie’ in all its glorious pompousness. People telling others to move “So I can get a good picture” and at least one thousand people will ask “Oh excuse me, would you mind taking a photo of me? Thanks”
I generally try to say ‘Fuck Off” before they finish, but if I’m in a particularly fun mood, I mess with their camera settings and try to screw up the picture as best as I can. Or you could even throw their camera off the side of the mountain, haha. Good times. But I digress…
You can hike further up to either Wayna Picchu or if you’re like me and really want a challenge, hike up the ‘Montana Picchu where you will get incredible views of the valley, ruins and Wayna Picchu alike. Incredible stuff. It’s a very demanding climb, so take multiple rest stops and bring at least a litre of water.
After this, head down and check out the main ruins for a couple of hours, hang out with the alpacas and just generally take it easy. Once you are finished, you could wait for a bus to take you back into town, but I elected to hike back down because of the huge waiting lines for the buses. It was a thoroughly exhausting day, but totally worth it! Make sure you visit this incredible place before you kick the bucket! I stayed one more night, then hiked back to the Hydroelectric train station, picked up my motorcycle and rode off into the dusty Peruvian wilderness to search for the hidden Rainbow Mountains of Peru.
- Kilometres travelled-25 900
- Flat tyres- 13 and a 1/2
- Incarcerations- 0
- Q) Are backpackers smelly? A) Yes. Now I know why.
Machu Picchu points of interest…