Getting to Macchu Pichu is not difficult. Just take a train from Cuzco and, in approximately 3h30, you arrive at a nice village, where you take a bus that takes passengers to the emblematic Inca city. This is the “soft” option: comfortable, on a walk that mixes stunning landscapes with others that are not so much – and even somewhat monotonous.
But for those who really want excitement, the best alternative is to overcome the distance on board a van – a cheaper, much longer trip (about 7 hours), very tiring and that guarantees, at the same time, wonderful landscapes and very cold in stomach.
In addition to the level of comfort, the main difference between going from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes (the closest village to the Archaeological Site of Machu Picchu) by train or van is the distance traveled. The trails cover 112 kilometers, on a much less winding route, which, if it is not exactly a straight line, is the shortest route between the two points.
Narrow road and winding curves
Already aboard a van, it is about 420 kilometers, along asphalt and dirt roads, following winding curves (many on the edge of the abyss), steep ascents and descents, stretches so narrow that only one vehicle can pass at a time. .
Despite being extremely punishing (sinuous curves and many bumps), the path allows you to glimpse breathtaking landscapes. The path between Cuzco and Águas Calientes marks the transition between the Andean and Amazon regions of Peru. Thus, a city is left at an altitude of 3,339 meters to reach a town that is 2040 meters above sea level.
There are several travel agencies in Cuzco that offer this transfer. The ticket costs around 50 Soles. The vans leave Cuzco at around 7 am and arrive at the final point, close to the old Hydroelectric Plant, at around 2 pm.
By train track
From this place, you have to walk to Águas Calientes village following the train line – it’s about 13 kilometers, a flat route that can be easily overcome. It is also a very beautiful route, as the railway tracks the course of a river and crosses the native forest.
After about 2:30 am, you arrive at the village, which is nothing more than a cluster of inns, hotels and restaurants around the train station and from where buses leave that take tourists to the Archaeological Site of Machu Picchu.
There is a modest shopping center, where in the central square there is a statue of Manco Capac, the first ruler of the city of Cuzco and founder of the Inca Empire.
Many of the hotels are literally next to the railway line – the rooms have a view of the tracks. The back of the hotels overlook a large river and, a little further on, the native Amazon rainforest.
In the shopping center, there are several stores that sell handicrafts and clothes made with llama or alpaca wool (animals related to the sheep, typical of the Andean regions). In restaurants, typical Peruvian dishes are served, especially Andean and Amazonian dishes.
A special highlight is the cuy, a typical rodent from that country (which Brazilians know as guinea pig), which is served roasted, whole, with head and legs (only the internal organs are removed).
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