Marian Johns' Journal of the Desert
Explorers trip to Peru in 2002
Images by John Page unless otherwise noted
Day 13, September
Machu Picchu See Map
Monday – Machu Picchu day! Mary, John Hunt, and Paul were able to go on
the early train – there were three extra seats.
Our later 10:00 train ride was uneventful, but the scenery was
extraordinary. I don’t remember the canyon walls so high or so nearly
vertical. And I don’t remember a tourist town at the end of the train
trip like there is today. Back then, I think the train went farther down
the Urubamba River canyon and stopped directly across from the road up to
the ruins. Now the train stops at Aguas Calientes (new name is Machu
Picchu Pueblo) and then the buses have to drive down the canyon a ways
before they cross the river and start up the switchbacks to the ruins. I
have read that a landslide destroyed the rail line below Aguas Calientes
and there are no plans to rebuild it.
Years ago, when we got off the
train, we didn’t realize we needed to get in line to buy bus tickets,
and by the time we figured out what was going on, we could only get
tickets for one of the last buses going up (not really buses back then,
but more like big Suburbans – I think). With only two hours to see such
a large site, we were forced to rush around. This time we had about four
and a half hours, most of it with our guide. That was actually enough time
for me. I was pooped by the time we finished – hiking up and down wore
The site of Machu Picchu is
breathtaking. Those Incas and pre-Columbian Indians must have explored
every inch of this area over time. Even before Bingham “discovered”
it, the local folks knew of it.
Early on in the planning
process of this trip, we considered staying at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary
Hotel which is located right up by the ruins.
However, we didn’t have to
consider very long – with a price tag of $300+ for a room, we all felt
our money could be better spent some other way.
Our 5:20 train (the Backpacker) ran out of daylight returning to
Ollantaytambo. We arrived back at the hotel about 6:45 in the dark. The
hotel had dinner ready, so we ate right away – creamed chicken over yuca,
rice, veggie soup with quinoa, and a cooked corn starch-like dessert with
a pleasant fruity flavor. Another $10. The hotel is owned by an American
woman, Wendy Weeks, but we saw neither hide nor hair of her. However, her
son was there and he and several helpers seemed to have things under
control. I have caught Joann’s cold – my throat is scratchy. Those
diesel fumes don’t help either.
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