Of course you can drive to Machu Picchu, or at least close enough to walk the last part. We had heard that it should be possible to drive in to a village called Santa Teresa and leave the car there. From Santa Teresa it should be about two hours to walk up to a hydro energy power plant, or take a taxi. Take a taxi? Right, if a taxi can drive up to Hidroelectrica, so can we! From Hidroelectrica it is a 25 minutes train ride, or a two hours walk along the tracks to Aguas Calientes which is the nearest town to Machu Picchu.
It was a great drive up to Hidroelectrica through a narrow valley.
After about 25 minutes we saw what must be the end of the road. There was a gate and an officially looking booth, and we were told that the road went about 100 meters further to the train station, but was only for official vehicles and taxies. We were not allowed to park anywhere near the entrance, as this was a Natural and Historical zone. Sure, we took this picture of the area from Machu Picchu. Very natural and historical…
Just before the entrance boot is a bridge across the river, and on the other side was a house. We asked and were allowed to park the car there for 10 soles per day (about 3 usd). At four thirty we were on our way to Aguas Calientes along the railway tracks. It is a nice and easy walk, and there are even two restaurants along the way (first is about two thirds in). Exactly 2 hours and one minute later we were in Aguas Calientes. Seemed to be plenty of guest houses, and we were asked several times if we needed accommodation as we walked through the town center. We paid 35 soles for a double with bathroom at Hostal One. Not too nice, but ok for a night. Early next morning we bought a one way ticket for the bus going up to the entrance of Machu Picchu (8 usd per person!). You can walk up in an hour and a half, but as we had planned to walk back out to the car the same day, we went for the bus.Machu Picchu
Yes, we know it is a cheesy picture, but it is kind of the standard tourist picture of the site. We had to… And we even had to get in line to get the picture. The picture is taken from the Warden Hut overlooking the city.
There are about 2500 tourists visiting Machu Picchu EVERY day in the high season (which was now...).
Fortunately, the site is quite big, and it absorbed the masses very good. And even if it is a little crowded, it still is a magical place. I would say it is one of the few places in the world that you see, and still have problems believing…
To get away from the masses for a while we found a small trail leading away from the site. It ended in The Inca Bridge, which once took people of Machu Picchu along this steep mountain side.
Some of the architecture in Machu Picchu is quite interesting, and the Incas were experts of “using” the terrain in their buildings, terraces, and plazas.
We had almost a full day in Machu Picchu. To make it all the way back to the Patrol before dark, we left around two in the afternoon. From the ruins, it took us about three and a half hours to walk back out, including a late lunch at the restaurant on the way.
The train didn’t stop. It would of course have been an option, as there are three departures a day to Hidroelectrica. Price is 18 usd per person each way.
We drove out from the parking, and continued down the road to Santa Teresa for about a kilometer. There we got off the road, popped the tent, and cooked dinner. Nice and quiet place with no people around. Coordinates for parking and camp site to be posted on www.unurban.no soon.