My trip to the world famous Machu Picchu was amazing. It of course was the highlight to my time in Peru and it exceeded my expectations. Before leaving for my two month Latin American tour I did my homework and bought my own entrance ticket to not only Machu Picchu but also to Huayna Picchu (pronounced: Wayna Picchu). I bought my entrance tickets directly from here, I paid $65 for both Machu Picchu+ Huayna Picchu two months before arriving in Peru.
I would still need to figure out how I would get to this mystical site, but I decided to not worry about that until I arrived in Cusco, Peru. I really wanted to do a trek that would lead me into this World Wonder but since I was enrolled in a TEFL Program course through Maximo Nivel and I unfortunately couldn’t afford to skip out of class for 3-4 days. When I arrived in Cusco I immediately started inquiring into the different options the many tour companies offered. Ultimately I opted to take a train to Aguas Calientes and then take an early morning bus to Machu Picchu. I didn’t want to risk missing my chance at Huayna Picchu, since I had the first-early morning entrance ticket that had a fixed entrance time. Still, I had to skip a day of class to ensure I wouldn’t miss anything and to spend a while in Aguas Calientes as I heard it was a pretty cool small town.
The train departs from Ollantaytambo Station to Aguas Calientes and it takes about 2.5 hrs. The ride itself is very scenic and quite nice. There are large windows that allow you to view the different landscapes you’ll pass through like: rivers, mountains, farms and small towns. You’ll be served a snack and drink midway through the ride. I sat next to travelers from Brazil, Argentina, the U.K and we had some nice conversations about travel, language and food. I paid about $140 for my round trip train and bus tickets to Machu Picchu.
This small town was nice but it was a total tourist town. Prices for food and souvenirs are expensive and this place isn’t very authentic. It was clear to see that it is a place made to cater to foreign travelers from around the world. I paid about $25 for my night stay at a basic hostel. It was very basic, just a bed and a shower, but that was enough. There was a continental breakfast included which was nice, since I had an early 4:00 am start. The queue line for the bus gets long. It’s best to arrive before 4:00 am to beat-out most of the morning crowd. I returned to Aguas Calientes for an early dinner and to catch the train back to Ollantaytambo Station after my awesome time at Machu Picchu.
As soon as I made it on site I followed the signs leading to the mountain I would be ascending for the next 2 hours. I’m not going to lie, the climb was very tough. It was entirely an uphill climb with a seemingly endless number of uneven steps. I was drenched in sweat by the time I got to the top, the view is spectacular and worth every painful step however. You can see Machu Picchu’s true scale from the top, it’s magnificent.
Wayna Picchu means young mountain in Quechua the indigenous language of Peru. The large mountain opposite to Wayna Picchu is Machu Picchu which means old/ ancient mountain.
Descending Wayna Picchu was a lot tougher than ascending, as it is really hard on the knees and feet. Once I made it back down I had to exit completely and come back in to properly view the grounds. Be sure to buy your Huayna Picchu tickets at least two months in advanced as they are tough to get since only two groups of 200 people gain access per day.
There is a lot to see and learn of this place. I joined a Spanish speaking guided tour to hear more about the magic behind this lost world. I won’t go into detail in telling the story behind this World Wonder as it is so much better to hear about it in person by a Peruvian native! This fortress holds a lot of history and magic, anyone lucky enough to experience it in person would agree that it is simply amazing.
About 2,500 people visit daily during the high season, which is from May to September. The busiest months are June through August, so keep this in mind when you are planning your visit to this World Wonder. And don’t forget to stamp your passport with the Machu Picchu stamp after you exit!
This was my first of the seven Wonders of the World I will see in the years to come. It is a mystical site and one of my most memorable experiences to date. It set the bar very high. I am happy I was finally able to see it. Happy Travels!