The deal with getting to Machu Picchu is that you need to take the bus (or walk if you are cheap/crazy). A return ticket cost $24.
The first buses goes around 5:30 - 5:45 and even when we got to the bus station at 5:17, there were already a massive cue (around 150 meters).
So, yeah - you need to wake up early because everyone else does (and the earlier you get up there, the better).
So the queue started moving at around 5:39. We got on a bus at 5:51.
The bus takes you up the mountain, through the fog that was extensive today, and up to the Machu Picchu entrance (we arrived at 6:14).
Finally here! Another one of the Seven wonders of the Modern World!
The fog embraced the ruins in a mystical and adventurous way, however it also limited your vision so you couldn't see that far.
Sometimes the wind would clear some of the fog so you can see more, but it always came back.
Me and Henrik went through the "higher part" of Machu Picchu (following the recommended path) until we got to the other side. This is where the gate is if you want to go to the top of Wayna Picchu, a high-ass mountain next door.
We had bought the combo-ticket for both Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu, but even though Henrik was feeling better today, he didn't feel good enough to walk up this mountain.
We had a pass for the early time; 7:00-8:00. We got there at 8:05, but fortunately the guard let me pass anyway (but I had to sign in with the time "08:00"). I was the last out of the gate with number 161 (there are only 200 part time slot - and there is two time slots per day, the other is 10:00-11:00).
So I started walking along the path towards Wayna Picchu. Since it is another mountain, I had to go downwards a bit, before I could start walking up the actually mountain I was there for to climb.
F*ck this is high!
Once on Wayna Picchu, the path were basically just a large amount of steps. Irregular and often steep.
I don't know how many times I had to stop and rest before I fell over dead, but I got closer and closer. My legs are trembling and my knees are hurting. And I have been out of breath since I left the gate at Machu Picchu.
I met a few going down again (after being at the top) and one group told me that I was just a few minutes from the first real view point to see Machu Picchu. They had been there for 30 minutes before they gave up. The fog was still there and you couldn't see anything.
Eventually I got to the place they told me about (at 09:00) and I rested there and took some photos of the invisible Machu Picchu.
But after just a minute or two, the fog started lifting and we could finally see Machu Picchu!
Then I started walking upwards again (and I had to climb through a cave/tunnel to get there!?).
I finally reach the top at 09:15 (it wasn't that far from the first view point, but there was a lot of photo opportunities on the way that made it go slower).
I had made it to the top!
Even I was amazed about it! :D
Here we saw the small, small Machu Picchu in the distance, but also the rest of the view from here was stunning.
I had now gone from Aguas Calientes at 2040 meters above sea level via Machu Pichhu's 2430 m to Wayna Picchu at 2720 m.
I stayed here for a little bit to rest and then it was time to head back (09:30).
The way down (especially close to the top) was very steep. It was very easy to fall and/or sprain an ankle. And now my knees are pretty much dead. So much pain.
It was somewhat faster going back, but it still took a while. At 10:25 I was finally back at the gate. I was very happy to have made it! :)
Walking through Machu Picchu again, the fog was gone so you could see the whole site.
However now it was very, very hot here. I was already totally drained and it hurt just to take a step. I got flashbacks from my near-death experience at Gibraltar.
Not only the heat is trying to get hold of you up here, the mosquitoes and sand bugs are attacking you as well!
I considered myself done with Machu Picchu at 11:25 and took the bus down the Aguas Calientes. I met up with Henrik at our hotel and I could finally get some rest.
After a hour or so, we went to get some food at a restaurant before it was time to catch the train back to Cusco at 15:20.
The train ride was long and boring, but after almost four hours we got there.
Our taxi driver from yesterday was there waiting and took us to our hotel for the night, the JW Marriot El Convento Cusco. It feels really good to be back at a JW Marriot hotel. I should always stay at their hotels!
We got room 123 and after a room service meal, I went to the spa to sit in the jacuzzi and just relax. I figured that I had deserved it. In the mean time Henrik was regaining his strength watching the NFL season first game with Denver Broncos.
We also got these cakes courtesy of the hotel, really nice of them (but we never finished them).
So how do you get to Machu Picchu? This is what we did:
Since there is a limited access to Machu Picchu (2500 per day), we ordered our tickets long before our trip to South America. We bought the tickets at the official Machu Picchu web page.
They have a few different tickets, but we chose the combination ticket Machu Picchu + Huayna (Wayna) Picchu since we we figured we might want to do that peak too. The difference in price wasn't too much so in case we decided on site to skip Huayna Picchu, it wouldn't really matter.
The ordering was quite easy (once you have your passport number) and the tickets were sent electronically.
The train to get to Machu Picchu was another story.
You travel with PeruRail and as a non-Peruvian, you have three different trains to choose from;
Expedition, Vistadome and the luxurious Belmond Hiram Bingham.
I would recommend the Vistadome trains which have big panoramic windows to better see the lovely nature outside. Unless you can afford the Belmond Hiram Bingham of course! :)
The tickets are easily available from their web page.
Note that each passenger is only allowed to bring 1 bag or backpack (max weight 5 kg).
There are luggage storage at the train stations of Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu, but if you need to bring more luggage on the train, just contact PeruRail and they can probably take care of it (they did for us). Information can be found on their web page.
You would usually take the train to Machu Picchu from Cusco, but the trains do have other stops.
The train ride takes about 3-4 hours.
Of course there are inca trails you can walk to get to Machu Picchu, but we took the train so you'll have to investigate those yourself. :)
Tickets to the bus from Aguas Calientes to the site can only be bought in the town at the bus station.
You need a good mosquito/bug repellent. Mine works at home, but had no chance here. I got bitten plenty.
Maybe a good option is to get whatever the locals have? That repellent should work for the local mosquitoes.