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Ben and Ange - On the Road

First Class Derailment & Machu Pichu

PERU | Sunday, 20 July 2008 | Views [1435] | Comments [1]

Fin and Bear found the perrenial Irish pub in Cusco.... Eric found Machu Pichu.

Fin and Bear found the perrenial Irish pub in Cusco.... Eric found Machu Pichu.

We knew it had to be done.... and we knew it would be mega-touristified so we donned our "No, gracias" smiles for the touts, suspended normal budgets for the rip-offs and braced ourselves for Cusco and Machu Pichu.

We didn`t brace ourselves enough.

But we did get there, we did see it and we did come out with photos (unlike my previous visit some years ago)... so yay us!!

Cusco could and should be steeped in history .... it does try, don`t get me wrong... but the touts and the hiked prices does take a little shine off the place.  Never mind.  We managed to see a very cool Spanish Church built over the top of an some Inca temple which kinda summed up some of the juxtaposition of the place in general.  Very neat.  We also managed to find a wee lookout that was clearly the local teens after-school hangout.  So felt right at home for that evening :-)

Our main purpose though (like every other beanie wearing gringo in the joint) was to get to Machu Pichu.  Trekking THE Inca trek was out, since it is overbooked at this time of year.  Besides, we have it on good authority that theres actually no reason for it to be labelled THE Inca trek as it is one of many trails of a similar nature all throughout Peru.  So we set out to get ourselves up there independently.

Our first stumbling block was the fact that the final 70km or so to Aquas Calientes (the base-town of Machu Pichu) could only be covered by rail.  Furthermore that gringos can`t ride the "local" train (ie - cheap) and that the "backpacker class" is all booked up for a week.  We are forced eventually to buy ourselves a pair of FIRST CLASS tickets.  With matching price tag.  But hey - we gotta do it.  So buy we do.

Find our way by local collectivo taxi (people pile on in and pay a set per person rate) out to the furthest accesible by road town (Ollantaytambo.... say that one after a few picsos) and hook up with our first class train there.


Our first class train looks to me, very much like a pretty normal train ... only it has some ceiling kinda windows in it to better view the mountains. Ah well... whatcanyado?!  We board, anticipation mounts, the whistle sounds, we have motion.....aaaand..... with a thump, crunch, squeal and scrape... we`re derailed.  Yup.  Our mighty Peru Rail first class carriage has managed to jump itself clear off one track!  How excitement!!!  Mighty pleased we were still in the station and mighty pleased we were only travelling at about 2km/hr!

A 40minute delay with lots of greasy engineer head-scratching, a crow-bar, some rocks and a hunk of metal later and the train is back on track and our second departure attmept is successfull!  Hoorah!  Off we go, winding along the valley following the gorgeous Urubamba river and looking up at the lush mountain sides and snowy peaks of the Andes. 

Arrival at Aquas Calientes makes us realise that maybe Cusco wasn`t so bad after all!!!!  Prices here, are consistently jacked to AT LEAST 5 times that of normal!  Ah sweet capitalism... its a scarey concept! 

Our first attempt at a room led us to a BARGAIN!!!!  40 Peruvian soles we thought, for this gorgeous room with a bathroom and it was clean and there was a window and a telly and fluffy towels and TOILET PAPER!!!!  WOW!  It soon dawned on us that maybe we had misunderstood the price.  By now we`re feeling pretty confident with out spanish numbers, but we check it out anyway.  Indeed - 40 soles turns out to be 40 USDollars.  Well and truely out of our budget.  A polite thankyou and a hasty retreat sees us back out on the street checking out alternatives.  Found one... back to reality for us and spent a pleasant evening with pizza and the sounds of the river below rushing by.

Next day has us paying the extortionate entry fee then trekking the 2km uphill staircase to Machu Pichu.  Of course you can take the bus.  But that 20min ride will set you back 12US dollars.    We reach the top, bypass various overpriced foods and whatnots, thread through the crowds and enter Machu Pichu.

You can`t deny it.  The place is pretty damn impressive.  It`s perched at around 2000m nestled between two jungle covered peaks and looking down onto the river and valley below that practically makes an island of the whole thing.  Off in the distance, the snowy capped Andes make an awesome backdrop.  The ruins are of stonework that can`t fail to impress.  Complete with various fountains, staircases, temples, terraces and nooks and crannies. 

Spent the day roaming, lazing, snapping pics and dissing rich fat loud tourists.  What fun!

Then the high speed jog/trot/prance back down our 2km staircase, into dreaded touristville and off to the nearest overpriced happy hour for a celebratory Pisco sour.

Our return trip had nowhere near the excitement of a derailment but we did feel pretty savvy when we laughed in the face of some taxi driver trying to sell us a ride back to Cusco for 10 TIMES the going gringo price!!!

Here we are folks.  Back in Cusco - killing time while we wait for our night bus to carry us back off the Gringo trail and into Lima.

Tis the ultimate irony I spose that spectacular sights draw spectacular crowds, no?  At least SOME of them :-)  Plenty more for us to discover.




Very impressive - so peaceful looking. How excitement a train derailment....you guys are living on the edge now.
Ben, about work when you get back...may be possible will email you.


  Fiona Jul 22, 2008 4:14 PM

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