My visit to Machu Picchu was part of a tour of southern and Central Peru, starting from Lima and travelling through Ica, Arequipa, Puno, Juliaca, Cusco, Machu Picchu, Nasca, Paracas and returning to Lima. This meant that I only spent two days within the colourful cloud forest surrounding Machu Picchu. I wish I could have stayed longer.
The train journey to Machu Picchu is quite wonderful. For about ten hours, the Hiram Bingham Express elegantly and slowly climbs to the sacred valley through the Andean countryside affording spectacular views of the rugged peaks and terraced slopes. The train is equipped in the style of a gentleman's club. The service is exceptional. But the menu lacks a vegetarian or vegan option. Although I explained my needs, the vegetables came smothered in butter. And, that's all that came. Not even a potato, which considering that I was in Peru was astonishing. I arrived in Machu Picchu quite late, but headed for La Govinda, the vegetarian restaraunt in the centre of town for a slap-up feast that cost all of 5 Soles (£1.30). A satisfying vegan meal consisting of three courses, bread and soup, spiced vegetable rice, followed by a selection of fruit.
My hotel was a little hard to find, the Machu Picchu Pueblo. You have to walk along the railway line back towards Cusco for about 500 metres, then up a short hill. Though, the hotel is quite special. I'll place a review on this site.
The next morning I climbed to the Inca city via the public bus, about 30 minutes of switch-backing round hairpin bends through the cloud forest. There's not much at the top aside the Sanctuary Hotel and a few tourist shops, even so, it was a little too busy for my liking. I headed for the ruins with a certain fear that I would find them to be too crowded, but the size of the city soaked up the crowds to afford me solitude at many of the sacred sites. I spent five hours on my first visit moving from one amazing view to another; each place exceeded the last in terms of beauty and tranquility. Though, to get to many of the best locations required agility and stamina. But, the picture postcard quality photos that I obtained were well worth the few scrapes my knees took.
The grounds of the lost city are well manicured. Llamas have been let free in the city to maintain the lawns and to keep the weeds back.
I'll remember the view to the river for the rest of my life. How could I sum the experience; heavenly. I was truly moved by the experience. I dare not return least my memories be devalued. This has to be a must for everyone atleast once in a lifetime.