A few weeks ago, on a sunny Saturday morning we all left our office of Cultural Immersion to make our way to the maybe most spectacular and most seen sight in South America – Machu Picchu.
After searching a local minibus for a while, we soon left Cusco and travelled to the stunning scenery of the Sacred Valley until we finally reached Urubamba. Another short ride with one of the motorcycle taxis, that make every journey an adventure, and we reached our first stop: the Muña restaurant. Already under time pressure, we enjoyed delicious food such as trout ceviche, different salads, a fantastic pumpkin soup and different other local specialties, all made from ingredients from the region. Forgetting the time over this wonderful lunch, we were already very late when leaving for Ollantaytambo. A very exciting taxi ride later, we arrived to the Ollantaytambo train station in a new time record and where the last passengerswere boarding the train to AguasCalientes. That’s actually only half the truth: my colleague Sofia and I boarded the Expedition train, while our Peruvian colleagues missed their local train and had to wait in Ollantaytambo for the next one, leaving in the evening. I don’t mean to imply anything about Peruvian time management at this point, just telling the story…
Upon arrival to Aguas Calientes, after marveling once again at the amazing landscape, slowly changing to a fascinating jungle world, we checked in at the Sumaq hotel, where we were warmly welcomed by the staff and greeted with a welcoming drink and snack. After relaxing a while and taking a delicious piece of cake during tea time, we headed towards the hot springs to relax for a while after the stress of nearly not catching our train. Located in a beautiful setting, we enjoyed the warm water, feeling how our stressed muscles healed and enjoying a very welcomed change from our all-day office routine.
In the later evening, once reunited with our Peruvian colleagues who finally arrived to Aguas Calientes, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at the Indio Feliz Restaurant, which offered a fusion of French and Peruvian cuisine, and where we were warmly welcomed by the owner in a setting that makes you feel transported to a world of ships and sails.
After a short walk back to the hotel, everyone nearly immediately felt asleep, after this long and exciting day.
The next morning, we had a delicious breakfast at the Sumaq hotel, before everyone started their own way. While my colleagues, who had seen Machu Picchu several times, decided to climb the challenging Putukusi Mountain, I myself decided to revisit the Machu Picchu citadel. I took the bus up to the entrance and as soon as I walked up the first steps and reached the platform where all the famous photos are taken from, the breathtaking view of this truly majestic city overwhelmed me ones again:it was enwrapped by several heavy clouds, giving it the magnificent mystic look it is famous for. I decided not to walk down to the urban sector, but making my way up to the Inti Punku, also known as the Sun Gate, the old Incan Entrance to Machu Picchu. This way,a less busy part of Machu Picchu, offered me some beautiful flora along the way, as well as interesting conversations (did you ever heard you can do Geocaching at Machu Picchu?). Finally, the sky cleared up and I had the chance to get an amazing view from the Sun Gate down to the complex. After heading back down, I took a walk along the ruins, still impressed at what the ancient Incan civilization managed to build: such a well-planned city right in the Andean mountains, and I was still wondering how this was ever possible. Although already quite crowded (it is more advisable to visit Machu Picchu early in the morning or in the afternoon) I wandered around, between the houses, temples, storages, squares, terraces and all the magnificent places the site has to offer. After it started raining I made my way back to Aguas Calientes where my colleagues already awaited me for another delicious lunch.
After lunch we still had some time before taking the returning train and so we went to visit the botanical garden, which was supposed to show a variety of orchids. Indeed, we found the orchids, of which there was a great variety, but the botanical garden looked like no one had taken care of it for several years. So we took a quite adventurous walk through the thicket, always guided by a stray dog that seemed to take care of us all the time and that was never more than two meters in front or behind us.
Finally, after this exciting weekend, we boarded the train back to Ollantaytambo and arrived tired but happy back home.
By Hannah Fischer