At 5 am sharp we were up and ready to rock. The train was due at 6.40 to take us from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, which is at the base of Machu Picchu. Our hotel was literally on the train platform, very handy.
At around 8 we got to AC, and headed straight for the busses, through a small market. The route takes you over the river, which was nice, but further downstream had some massive rocks. Naturally, I saw the opportunity to pose.
Halfway down the queue I realised we didn’t have tickets and they have to be purchased back up the hill. I ran off leaving Gem in the line. I got the return tickets and ran back, we were lucky that a school of kids were next in line behind us, cos there was 2 places left on our bus and they obviously had to go together. We hopped on and started a breathtaking ascent, or nail biting if you ask Gemma.
We had to sit apart so I didn’t realise that while the bus was snaking up the mountain Gemma had been terrified. She was physically shaking. We worked our way through hordes of tourists and entered the famed citadel, only for Gem to start crying. We stayed close to the wall despite the chances of falling being almost zero.
After some consoling, she sent me on my way with the camera. I literally ran around the site, taking in the views and snapping the Nikon, then hurried back to escort Gem back to the bar outside the site, moving folks politely out the way as we went. It is a beautiful place and fully deserving of its ´Wonder of the World´ status.
Gemma says she will return and defeat MP, and has never felt fear like it. Maybe the bus journey didn’t help, but we had decided not to do the 1 hour hike due to time constraints, which felt a little silly now at 9.30, with our train back not due until 14.30.
Not to be wasteful, we finished our morning beers and headed back to Aguas Calientes. We sat together on the bus down, which was actually much more dangerous than the bus up, but this seemed to make Gem calmer, and she finally enjoyed the views.
We hiked up a railway track for 30 minutes, eventually choosing to slide down a dirt bank (great fun) to meet the road below next to the river.
Aguas Calientes literally translate to ‘hot water’, and its main attraction is a natural spring bathing spot. Its sounds good, but we had heard bad things. To be sure, we headed up towards the springs, low and behold they were a filfthy tourist trap. Don’t go.
The train chugged us back to Ollantaytambo, where we had a walk around to see what was about. We ummed and arred about where to eat in this dusty cobbled town, and when we couldnt decide we settled on the place with most people in, safety in numbers I guess.
Its a crying shame that I can’t remember what its called, because its the best food Gemma’s had on the trip. She had beans and salad tortillas, and I stole a bit, and it was damn good. Especially for 12 soles, and that includes chips.
Up at 4 tomorrow for our 12 hour journey to Puno.