A Childhood Dream Come True: Machu Picchu
I have wanted to visit Machu Picchu since I was 10 years old. My mother was a traveler so I always knew about far away lands, even as a kid. Fast forward 17 years later and I was attempting to buy tickets to this wonder of the world. The ticket process was not easy. The website is old and tickets didn’t go on sale when they were supposed to. This happened 3 times! I was able to get in touch with someone at the Machu Picchu ticketing office who let me know that there were technical issues and that tickets would go on sale much later than we thought. That meant we had to buy our Machu Picchu hotel and transportation tickets without actually having tickets to the site. This worried me but we had no other choice. During our time in Cusco, the tickets did go on sale! But of course, there was another road block. It wasn’t letting us pay online and instead, gave us 2 hours to race to the city center of Cusco, find the office, and pay in person. We successfully accomplished this and high-fived each other when we officially had our 2 day passes.
The journey to Machu Picchu started at 4:15 am. We left our Cusco airbnb and luckily, found a taxi nearby. We were worried since it was so early in the morning but it was not an issue. He took us to the PeruRail bus station. We had purchased this bus ticket in advance. This bus was going to take us to Ollantaytambo, where we would catch a PeruRail train to Machu Picchu town. This bus process was a total nightmare. The ticket told us to be at the station at 4:50 am but we didn’t board for another 40 minutes. Instead, we huddled in a small room with about 100 other tired people. Mind you, the room was supposed to hold about 30 people. Finally, we get let on the bus and Andrew’s seatbelt doesn’t work. Not a big deal for us but PeruRail made a big deal about having to wear seatbelts. Yet, as soon as his didn’t work, they didn’t seem to care. Lastly, it was raining during our bus ride and the roof leaked onto Andrew! Seriously, it did! We complained to the employee on board, who didn’t seem to worried about the issue. Andrew and I are pretty easy going but PeruRail is NOT cheap and we expected more.
Thankfully, the train ride with PeruRail was smooth and we slept the whole way from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu. Upon arrival at our final destination, we hustled to our hotel, left our bags with them, quickly ate some croissants and loaded onto a bus that was going to take us up the mountain to Machu Picchu. To settle any confusion, the town our hotel was in was called Machu Picchu AND the famous site is called Machu Picchu. The town used to be called Aguas Calientes but that seems to be no more. The bus ticket was expensive and personally, I don’t think thats right. The ticket to Machu Picchu is already expensive enough! Anyways, we got on the bus and made our way up the mountain. I was in complete awe at how high up we were going. If you are afraid of cliffs, don’t look down!
We arrived to Machu Picchu with hundreds of other people. We made our way to the entrance and we were in! I couldn’t believe I was here. I had seen countless postcards and blogs but I couldn’t comprehend I was going to experience this place for myself. We took a few photos and then started climbing up to get the best view. As soon as we started our climb, the rain started. It was light at first but shortly after, it was a steady rain. We had come prepared with rain coats, hiking boots and beanies. Due to the rain, a lot of people hid under coverings or quickly left to find shelter. NOT US! We ventured onward and it soon became apparent that there weren’t many people left exploring the site. It felt like we had the whole place to ourselves! We managed to take photos without other people in them, which is very rare.
We reached the top and looked down. There it was. The famous view of Machu Picchu that I had seen many times. I was in awe and we stood in the rain, just staring, our eyes almost bulging out of our heads. It was so mystical and the rain/fog added an extra element of magic. We hung out until we realized our hiking boots couldn’t take anymore rain. The water was now in our shoes and soaking our socks. I was so proud of us for not letting the rain stop us from our 1st day!
We left the park and to our surprise, entered into a 45 minute long line in the rain. This was for a bus back down into the mountain. THIS WASN’T COOL. Everyone pays hundreds of dollars to enter Machu Picchu and all of these people have to take a bus down to the town. How are you seriously going to let us stand in the rain? There could have easily been a covering built but no. Instead, Andrew ran around, looking for an umbrella or ponchos for us. He found some and we stood in the rain in our cheap ponchos. After 45 minutes, we got onto a bus, soaking wet and tired. I don’t think I will ever forget arriving back to our hotel and collapsing from pure exhaustion and wetness. The 1st day at Machu Picchu was a rainy success!
We were nervous for rain again for the next day, as our clothes were still damp. Luckily for us, it was blue skies and sunshine. We entered Machu Picchu again and explored the parts we didn’t get to the day before. Since the rain stopped, the animals came out to play. It was amazing to get so close to them, as they are not at all spooked by people. I met a lovely lady from Glendale while sitting and enjoying the view. It is always amazing to meet people across the world from Los Angeles!
Machu Picchu is an absolute must see place in the world. It is not the easiest place to get to but it is worth it. You will feel so satisfied wandering through this Incan playground. It is expansive and if you don’t mind climbing, you will be rewarded with astonishing views. We saw people of all ages and body shapes exploring this citadel. I do think that if you have the right clothing, water and eat a good breakfast, you will enjoy Machu Picchu. It is TRULY a wonder of the world and I will never forget this place for as long as I live. A childhood dream come true, indeed.