Day 11: Being too excited and quite nervous to see Machu Picchu at the right time.
The previous night I took a train from Ollantaytambo and at midnight I finally arrived in Aguas Calientes (=Hot Waters). Right, it’s not Machu Picchu yet. It was absolutely dark outside, only strong street lamps blinded the lights. I came out and made my first step there.
The air was full of freshness that seemed a bit sweet. It seemed spirits of ancient Incas were all around me. I looked up and could see only the darkest sky. I assumed there were high mountains staring at me from above, but I couldn’t see them. I just felt them.
Have you checked the previous part of my super plan yet?
There were tens of us being happy to arrive at the last stop before seeing the main wonder of Peru. I started to worry about safety because I had to walk to my hostel and no one seemed to go the same way. It was no use. Aguas Calientes is a very friendly and nice town. I was really exhausted by the excursions and after taking a shower I immediately fell asleep. But unfortunately only for 4 hours.
If you want to see the misty Machu Picchu and the mountains coming out of the morning haze, you better start your day as early as possible. There are two ways to get to Machu Picchu: by bus and on foot. I was almost exhausted by the previous day and didn’t even think about going up for 1.5 hours on foot.
The tickets booths that sell bus tickets to go to Machu Picchu open at 5 am. But it’s always recommendable to bet in the line as early as possible. At 4 am my friend and I woke up, got a quick breakfast at our hotel and started our way to Machu Picchu. Luckily the hostel served breakfast starting from 4 am (if I’m not mistaken). And I believe all the hotels do the same in Aguas Calientes.
At 4.30 we arrived at the bus spot. People say it’s daylight at about 7 am that means we still had about 2.5 hours to get to Machu Picchu. But seeing about a hundred of people in the line in front of us made me really worried. At something past 5 am I bought my desired ticket and in another line — to get into a bus.
The first bus departs from Aguas Calientes at 5.30 am and arrives at Machu Picchu after 6 am. The last bus departs at 3.30 pm. The first bus goes from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes 6 am (mainly for those who have spent the night at the Sanctuary Lodge Hotel), with the last bus of the day departing at 5.30pm (just before sunset).
In the morning the buses depart from Aguas Calientes every 5 minutes and can seat ≈20 people. Half an hour later I got my seat in the green bus. The mountain road takes about 25 minutes. If you get nausea easily, take a special medicine to feel good and energised.
At the entrance we again had to wait in a line: to pass the control. If you don’t have a ticket, there’s no way to get to the territory of the ancient city. In the same place, you can meet local guides who offer their service. A private excursion in Machu Picchu can cost you about 150 soles (≈45USD), while a group excursion costs around 20 soles (≈6USD). I definitely dislike group excursions due to traditional lack of time and competitiveness to take the best photo in a short period of time. And not willing to spend the money on a private guide, we decided to walk in the ancient city on our own.
Luckily, we were exactly on time for the sunrise. It was already daylight, but still pretty foggy. My first steps in Machu Picchu seemed unreal. I was waiting for so long and everything I could see was just a few metres of grass and some trees. The air was so fresh that my lungs got cold. I was hurrying, I wanted to see everything immediately and, at the same time, to delay the moment I see Wayna Picchu. I was so worried, I didn’t know what to expect, I was scared to be disappointed and not happy enough… I took the first turn and all the mixed feelings disappeared…
Day 11. If you hesitate whether Machi Picchu is worth visiting or not: How it feels to be in Machu Picchu. My real experience.