Saturday, July 3, 2010

And, of course, the Machu Faken Picchu

The plan was simple and elegant: Take a bus from Cusco to Piscocucho (aka km 82), walk the railroad until Agua Calientes (km 110), wait until the nightfall and enter Machu Picchu without paying the pricey $40 entry fee.
The first two points of the plan were completed with relative easiness, although we were turned around near Piscacucho by an official-looking dude with a hand-held radio. He told us it is prohibited for us to walk on the railroad and that if we want to reach Aguas Calientes, we have to buy a train ticket (the cheapest is $35). We pretended to comply and walked back a bit, but then, behind his back, we climbed the steep hill, went up through the bushes and a dry creek bed and so escaped him. We made a big circle through the fields and got back to the railroad a few hours later. We met no more harmful people, so we walked on the rails until the sunset.As it was getting dark, a Quechua woman hailed us from her yard and invited to camp on her land. We happily accepted her invitation and pitched out tent in the meadow, next to the 20 constantly shitting cows. We then cooked dinner on the wood fire in her kitchen.Most of the next day we walked through the most beautiful landscapes along the Urubamba river, saw many ruins and terraces. Trains passed us once in a while, and we waived to tourists who were taking pictures of us.
Around lunch time we reached Aguas Calientes, an ugly town built in a most beautiful valley. All the prices there were doubled, so we walked through to the camping site near the bridge and surveyed the surroundings.
The picture we saw was disheartening: Lots of security everywhere, even on the bridge. You need to buy the ticket to M.P. in advance and present it to be allowed to cross. The bridge is blocked by high gates at night, supposedly guarded as well. Under the bridge, a mighty boiling rio Urubamba. ¨No way¨, we thought. If only we would have looked closer! There is a way, in fact, but we have learned about it only when we came back to Cusco.
So instead of laying out $80 for the tickets, we desided to climb the mountain on this side of the river, Putucusi, free of charge. The forest was full of singing birds and sunlight, and there was absolutely nobody on trail! The reason for that was that the section of the ladders was wiped out by a mudslide last rainy season, and the ascent of the section was difficult, but possible for those without fear/brains, underline the appropriate.We climbed the slippery slope and continued on an impressive Inca trail. The trail mostly consisted of high steps sometimes constructed of huge boulders and sometimes carved right out of the side of the mountain. A beautiful panorama of the archeological site and the surrounding peaks opened up from the top.
We desided that this was as close as we really wanted to get to this jewel of South America. Two thouthand tourists daily on that side and zero on this side looked like a good deal to us. So we came down and walked in the direction of Santa Theresa, leaving Machu Picchu undefeated.
There was a trail along the railroad to Santa Theresa, it was very wide and flat, with scores of tourists walking on it. That´s why we haven´t met anybody walking from km 82, they all come from this side! It is much closer (like 3 hours instead of 24) and the trail is sooo easy, but the lanscapes are nearly not as impressive. After we got on an actual road, we flagged down the first pick-up that went by and got a ride straight to Cusco! Sweet.


  1. Wow, that is adventure. :) So is it like national park or why they charging so much? :) Hmm, gates to see a mountain. Interesting.

    What's next? :)

  2. Hey guys! glad to hear you're having a good time! It's very interesting seeing South America through your eyes! you are true backpackers! Have fun!
    Danny and Anna

  3. Alex: They charge so much because
    a) the company running the ticketing operations of M.P. is gready beyond any boundaries and it is not even a Peruvian company! It is a Chilean-French enterprise.
    b) the tourists pay the price without questions!!!
    Danny and Anna: Glad to hear from you!!! How are your lives unfolding? Drop us a line on the e-mail!

  4. But if it's not National Park and they don't own the land, they can't stop you from entering there, can they? :)