Friday, October 18, 2013

Aguas Calientes, Peru - Day 4 of Machu Picchu G Adventure Tour

Sunday, October 6:

We have been terrifically lucky with the weather!! Albeit, quite chilly in Cusco at an altitude of 3,380 meters or 11,089', it became warmer as we were heading downhill. Ollantaytambo was only (ha) at 2,700 meters or 8,858', and we were descending to 2,000 meters or 6,562' at our destination, Aguas Calientes (Much Hot Water, is the meaning), today.

The weather did not disappoint! A great thing since today we travelled totally by train deep into the mountains since that's the only way in unless you hike the Inka Trail. Obviously, we chose not to, but for those that did, it's a 4 day hike with camping along the way.

We were traveling only with our backpacks for the 2 days, as the trains do not have luggage facilities on board for anything more.  Our remaining luggage had been stored in Cusco for when we return.

The ride was an hour and 45 minutes f of stunning beauty!! And, a comfortable ride. Along the way we saw more Inka ruins, the beginning of where the hikers start their 4 day trek up the mountains, and just stark beauty as we descended into the jungle and rain forest.

Our comfortable train.

The train ride follows the river at the bottom of the gorge all the way into Aguas Calientes.

We even had views above our heads to see the tops of these magnificent mountains!



This is the spot where those hiking into Machu Picchu via the Inka Trail begin by crossing this bridge. And then it's all up hill from there!







Our final destination - Aguas Calientes!
 
Upon arriving to the town of Aguas Calientes at only 9:30am, at the foot of Machu Picchu, we found a bustling pedestrian friendly town. But, it certainly wasn't flat! Everything was up hill from the train or down to the busses that take you up to the start of Machu Picchu. And, I mean UP!  We were literally in a steep valley with the river at the bottom. 

So we finally arrived at our hotel, at almost the top of the main road on the west side of the huge creek, with the hot springs being at the very top close to us. Yeah!!  As they were the first thing on our agenda for the day.

Up, up, up with our backpacks.

Some street adornment along the way.

Our home for 2 nights.

The hallway leading to our room.
 
Everyone had a free day to do what they wanted and we all did scatter with some doing the waterfall trek that included walking through or dodging through several of the train tunnels that we came through (YIKES!), and 3 souls actually doing the climb up to Putucusi. That entailed climbing up steep, very steep ladders for almost 300 meters then hiking straight up another 200 meters with the reward of seeing Machu Picchu from the top. NO THANK YOU, very much!!

Putucusi Mountain 
This picture is from TripAdvisor just so you can see the ladder steepness that they climbed!!  VERY, VERY impressive!!  Kudos, my friends!

They said it was worth it but WE were very satisfied to while away in the hot spring pools with 2 other couples, then find a restaurant that had a US football station (not an easy thing to find!). And, a nice afternoon nap before meeting up with everyone at 6pm.

The walk into the Hot Springs is long, up hill, and drop dead gorgeous!!


A total of 6 pools and some "showers".  We only went into 2 pools and sat under the shower spigots.  Many of the locals come to take their weekly showers & wash their hair under the spigots.

The HUGE rushing creek below.




Machu Picchu is just on the other side of this peak.


The Hot Springs bohemian café.



 
Everyone was at our briefing at 6pm except Linda, who was having a massage literally across the walkway from our hotel. 60 minutes for 50 solis or roughly $18US. However, when we were finished with the meeting and ready to head out to dinner, Linda hadn't returned. When we all went outside and asked the lady at the door about Linda, she said that Linda had left BEFORE 6pm!!  So from exiting her massage, she never made it across the walkway directly into our hotel. We couldn't find her anywhere!!  

At this point, Willie, her partner was beginning to panic a bit but was trying hard to hold it together. None of us could believe she wouldn't come right back knowing we were all going to dinner. So after a quick cursory search, we all fanned out going in all different locations looking for her. After only about 10 - 15 minutes, she was "found". She had gone for a pedicure just down aways and they had assured her she would be finished by 6pm. NOT!!

Now, Mike & Jose, our guide, were missing as they had gone down by the creek looking for her. Willie and I went up to he small square but couldn't see them. We decided to come back to he group knowing they would eventually show up, which they did in a short time. It was now time to get back to our dinner plans with a huge sigh of relief that all was well with the world again!!

So off down the hill we went...way down the hill!!  Again, all I could think about was coming back up. But, I have to admit, it was getting pretty easy to go up and down with no breathing difficulties or heavy legs. It certainly did help that we were at a much lower elevation!

Again, down, down, down!

 

An evening shot on the main square.

The statue on the main square.

Me and with the dude!

A beautiful Trumpet Tree lit up at night.

The train tracks through town.

SALUD!!

The "Group"!

A cake to celebrate the honeymooners! Chris, Jessica S., Jessica T. & Ryan.


 
Our dinner was fabulous and so was the company!! By this time, we all had certainly formed good relationships and were truly enjoying each other's company. So even though we were having a great time, it was time to head back for a good nights sleep because we needed to be up, fed, and out for our 6:30 am bus ride up to beat the rush of tourists that start arriving by train at 7 am. Ugh!!  But, OH, SO WORTH IT!!  Stay tuned for Machu Picchu!


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