18 October 2023 Machu Picchu
In search of Incas
“Once a year go somewhere you have never been before”HH Dalai Lama
My alarm went off at 4:30 am and I picked up my packed breakfast at 5 am as I left the hotel.
I got to the bus stop a few minutes after 5 am even though I was told to be here at 5:20 am. There was already a sizable queue forming. I declined the services a local guide as they to want to get me around the site at their pace not mine. I got on the first bus which arrived at the entrance to Machu Picchu about ten minutes before opening time at 6 am.
Now it has to be said that I can be very sedentary when I am in Ireland, and that has been particularly true of the last few months. One might say that I am not even fit to climb stairs!
I had bought an advance ticket for ‘Circuit 2 + Inca Bridge’ The climb up to the entrance of the Inca Bridge was challenging, shall we say, involving a few stops along the way to catch my breath.
I was out of breath but I got to the entrance of the Inca Bridge at 6:30. This optional attraction doesn’t open until 7 aa, so I had time to sit and soak up the atmosphere. Watching the sun rise, and the clouds lift over the main site was quite something.
Machu Picchu is a selfie photo paradise but selfie-sticks are banned. However, from this vantage point a great many almost dangerous arm-stretched selfies were uploaded to Instagram and TikTok as each new group of visitors passed by the Inca Bridge entrance.
At 7 am the path to Inca Bridge was opened. You have to check in with ticket and ID details and time of entry. The other 4 people there at that time all headed off at a trot and I was the last to check in.
On the path to the Inca bridge I walked slowly and mindfully not because I was out of breath and the path was narrow with an unprotected precipitous drop, but because it was so tranquil. It was so quiet, that is apart from the distant rumble of thunder, and far below the train to Cusco sounding it’s horn as it leaves Aguas Calientes.
It was quite stunning, breathtakingly beautiful. I will run out of superlatives but writing in this way, in part it takes the edge off of not sharing this experience personally, one-to-one with someone else.
After a slow walk of about 30-minutes I reached the end of the path. You can see the Inca bridge but access is prohibited. The people who had set off before me told me the bridge is just a couple of planks of wood, uninspiring and nothing to see here, type thing. It didn’t bother me, I was so enjoying the walk there, mostly in solitude and relative silence.
[I looked up what the Inca Bridge was later, yes, it is a couple of tree trunks but they act almost as a drawbridge, a gateway. If the timbers are removed then access to Machu Picchu in this ‘secret path’ is impossible.]
On the way back to the entrance, I encountered many more individuals and small groups headed for the bridge, I would make room for them to pass safely. Once back at the entrance I had to check out, which I suppose is a good thing.
I continued on the ‘Circuit 2’ one-way path. Without using more superlatives it is a wonderful experience and the Peruvian authorities seem to have done a good job in managing numbers and directing visitors around the site. BUT the individual points of interest are not signposted, so unless you know what you are doing it is likely that you will walk past something you wanted to see, even by a few metres, and you are not allowed to backtrack. I had mistakenly walked past the Temple of the Condor and tried to walk back, only to be told ‘no’. A very kind Spanish speaking man tried to help by telling the attendant that I had come nearly 10,000 km to see this sight, I just wanted to backtrack 50 paces but still the answer was ‘no’!
It was getting on for 10 am, so after 4-hours the circuit was completed. I took the next bus back to Aguas Calientes. I went to the town square, sat in the shade and enjoyed my packed breakfast watching the busyness of this small tourist town, feeling very relaxed and content.
On the way back to the hotel for a well deserved siesta, I visited the church of Carmen the Virgin, where there was one person and two dogs. One dog was rather disrespectfully lying in the aisle attending to licking his private parts… well, it is said that cleanliness is next to Godliness. The other dog was sitting bolt upright on a pew, so still that at first I thought it was a statue… but he looked at me, then looked away and went back to his contemplation.
After my siesta, I decided against visiting the hot pools that the town is famous for, and takes its name from, firstly because I wasn’t getting anything dry, and secondly, I read one review saying that people got sick after using the pools.
I had a simple but very tasty supper of hamburger and fries, followed by a rather expensive coconut ice-cream.
A good day comes to an end.
- Entrance Ticket (bought in advance) € 39
- Return Bus Ticket € 23
- Hotel Samananchis Machupicchu (Booking.com) € 28.50 per night with breakfast.
- Dinner € 6
- Ice-cream € 4.50