The Overlander’s way to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu was the finale of our trip through Peru with our friend George M. Being overlanders, George I. and I found the most inexpensive way in. Our team of three drove through the Sacred Valley to Santa Teresa. Santa Teresa is the jumping off point for a 3-6 hour hike into Aguas Calientes (town next to Machu Picchu). The drive through the Sacred Valley was…windy, up and down and back and forth. We were rewarded with vibrant villages and beautiful vistas for our efforts.

The stop at Moray was a highlight. From what we understand, Moray was a crop testing area for the Incas and included 3 pits that plunged up to 100 feet. We read that the temperatures differs by as much as 15 degrees celsius from top to bottom.

Arriving at Cola de Mono Canopy to park the truck before the hike, I discovered the best toilets on the entire trip. Okay, maybe a little dramatic, but part of overlanding in a pickup is giving up the luxury of your own toilet. So, bathroom facilities become a very distinct part of our day. Back to the toilets though, three clean and spacious ones facing the river. All of the toilets had three walls so you were greeted with a picture framed scene of a lush river and the soft whisper of the water flowing by as you went about your business. Perfect.

Getting our act together, we opted to shorten the hike by three hours with a taxi ride and spare ourselves a dusty road full of traffic. The next three hour we spent sometimes in the rain hiking along the railroad track to Aguas Calientes with a short stop over for lunch. The scene in Aguas Calientes was a little chaotic having the serendipity to arrive on the town anniversary, but we soon got settled.

The next morning we were in line and on the second bus from town up to the ruins. After a little hustle and bustle at the gate, we were in. We did a quick look around and then headed the the Waynapichu line (the peak over Machu Picchu). The hike up Waynapichu was less than an hour but meant jibing for placement between the tour groups and occasional pulling yourself up over steep slipper rocks. The views from the top were definitely worth the dance we did in Cuzco to get tickets.

Conclusion after a day in Machu Picchu? I’m glad I saw it, but it’s probably the biggest tourist trap we visited on the entire trip. I won’t be back, but would love to hike in to some of the lesser known ruins close by.

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