Austin and I were in Peru in February during rainy season. In February the “Inca Trail” hike that leads to Machu Picchu is closed. During this part of the season the only option is to take the train that leads through the jungle to Aguas Calientes, the town next to Machu Picchu.
PERURAIL has a monopoly on transport to Machu Pichu but ironically, PERURAIL is not actually owned by Peru. It is half owned by Britain and Chile, meaning Peru got screwed out of a lot of money that goes into transporting people to and from Machu Picchu. At the time it was getting set up Peru simply did not have the resources to fund development of the rails so they leased the project to Britain and Chile. Whoops.
Aguas Calientes is set next to the Rio Urabamba and is named after the natural hot springs that bubble up in the town. The town is more well known for being the town next to Machu Picchu. The town has been overrun with (and basically ruined by) tourism, which I’m guessing accounts for roughly 90% of the town’s economy.
Guesthouses, hostels, and hotels generally expect people to stay only one night. Check out times are absurdly early because they know everyone is getting up early to see the ruins. The ticket office opens early next to this Inca statue.
The bus ride to Machu Picchu follows a long winding road up the steep mountainside.
We had foggy weather and rain that day, which may have been a blessing in disguise.
It was a different way to see the famous site in the clouds in the early morning, before too many people had crowded into it.
After taking some time to take it all in, Austin and I hiked away from Machu Picchu towards Intipunku, or the “Sun Gate.” The Sun Gate is the point at which hikers coming to Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail first see Machu Picchu – unfortunately from the Sun Gate all we could see was clouds.
We continued on past Intipunku for about 30 minutes until Austin realized we were going the reverse direction on the Inca Trail. I wanted to keep going – after all, who had ever done the Inca trail…in reverse? Austin did not share enthusiasm for my record-breaking idea.
Heading back towards Intipunku we had to scale a steep staircase that was pretty slippery in the rain.
When we got back to Machu Picchu the fog had cleared a bit which gave us a chance to take some fantastic shots that I’m sure no one had ever taken before.
After our inspirational and award-winning photos we wandered down into the mini-city.