Sacha Lodge, Ecuador (Yvonne Smith)
We awake in Ollantaytambo at 6 am, still without power. After a simple breakfast, we board two little 3-wheeled motorcycles with a bench seat and covered cabin. We have just a couple of backpacks with our overnight essentials as we are restricted from bringing more on the train. Even those hiking the Inca trail have to pass a weigh station. After short and somewhat entertaining ride on our little 3-wheeler, we arrive at the train station. The station is surprisingly modern, clean and charming. It obviously caters to tourists. The 1.5 hr train ride is stunning, we are in the ''A'' coach with large seats and windows all around. We arrive into Aquas Calientes, the small town just outside Machu Picchu. The town is very touristy with mainly restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops. We check into our hotel (El Mapi) (we walk because there are no cars in this town, everything is by foot except the buses up to Machu Picchu). The hotel is surprisingly ultra-modern and very cool with big, graphic signs everywhere. There are plenty of European and Japanese tourists. We meet up again with Ayul and walk to the bus line-up to MP, everything is very controlled and orderly, tickets and passports are required in advance for entry. The 20 min bus ride up the mountain is breathtaking (literally) as we scale the side of the mountain zigzagging all the way up ! We arrive up to the site of Machu Picchu and spend the rest of the afternoon taking in the glorious and stunning history of this true world wonder.
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