There are two main ways to get to Machu Picchu with variations on each. You can hike for four-five days along the Inca Trail or you can take the train to Aguas Calientes followed by a bus ride or a moderately challenging 90-minute trek to the sanctuary.
After three days in the Sacred Valley, we opted for a hybrid route. We took the train from Ollantaytambo to the prosaically named Km 104 station (so-named because of its distance from Cusco). If you blink, or nod off, you could definitely miss it!
We crossed the Urubamba River, registered at with the rangers and were on our way!
A short walk took us to the ruins at Chachabamba, an Incan site believed to have two purposes: a religious place to worship water and a checkpoint for those heading to Machu Pichu. We then commenced the six-mile hike that climbs 2600 feet and winds through semi-tropical rain forest – a stark contrast to the Sacred Valley’s arid climate. Parts of the trail are exposed with remarkable views back along the river.Bright orchids, a species of lupine and other wildflowers added bursts of color. There are reputedly over 300 types of orchids within the environs of Machu Picchu.We stopped to catch our breath and enjoy some coca tea by this wonderful waterfall.
Just around the halfway point of our hike, we reached the incredible terraces and ruins of Wiñay Wayna, a name that translates as “forever young.”
I don’t know how many steps we climbed to the spot from where the shot above was taken – suffice to say we worked off our amazing picnic lunch.
Another few miles of fairly continuous climbing and we reached Inti Punku – the Sun Gate – just before sunset. Stay tuned for an close and personal virtual visit of magnificent Machu Picchu.