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The Main Event

There is no doubt about it – the majesty of Machu Picchu was the highlight of our trip. I thought perhaps the hype and the general overcrowding of such a high-profile tourist site would turn me off compared to some of the more off-the-beaten-track destinations I loved exploring in other countries. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The closest I came to mountains during most of my life was a pass through the Appalachians once every few years. When I moved to Montana, the mountains enraptured me. I can’t get enough of them, and they never cease to amaze me. And yet, the mountains around Machu Picchu make Montana feel like a rolling hill. These mountains completely surrounded me, and I couldn’t stop staring.

Train snacks
Train snacks (Karen DiGangi)
Train to Machu Picchu
Train to Machu Picchu (Karen DiGangi)

The train ride through the Peruvian countryside to the town of Aguas Calientes was beautiful. The trains run like clockwork, with their system of announcements and snacks down to a science. Our arrival in Aguas Calientes was met with swarms of tour guides waiting for travelers and local shops looking to sell every kind of local tourist specialty. These always seem to catch my attention! A short walk to the bus station and we were so close I could taste it!

The bus ride up the mountains was close to making me motion sick, since rapid inclination on switchbacks on a dirt road is not for the faint of heart. A quick bathroom break (for a few soles) and it was time for the main event!

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