When we booked our cruise around the Galápagos Islands, we added the option to visit Machu Picchu (Wikipedia). This meant travelling to Lima from Quito (after our return from Baltra), an overnight in Lima at the very nice Country Club Hotel and then another flight to Cuzco where we spent three nights in the Monasterio Hotel. We checked into the hotel for a late lunch, and then visited the local cathedral—no photos worth displaying. The following day, the rest of the group took a trip to a local market and the Sacred Valley; unfortunately, I was laid low by tummy trouble, which may have been a symptom of altitude sickness. I stayed in the hotel to give myself the best chance of recovering for Machu Picchu the following day.
Although it was only a day trip to Machu Picchu, we went in luxury on the Hiram Bingham Orient Express. My tummy was much better at breakfast and completely recovered after a couple of welcome glasses of champagne—the first of which included a dash of Pisco and a small piece of lime. It wasn’t the most successful cocktail; the Pisco really did overpower the champagne (I think it was really South American bubbly).
The train ride was 3+ hours each way; so we ate brunch (really lunch) and dinner on the train. The food was excellent , and the Pisco Sours on the return journey made sure I had no recurrence of my trouble. There was a decent 3-piece band providing entertainment both ways. They were particularly good fun on the return journey with a mixture and Spanish songs and pop/rock that the crowd could sing along to. It was already dark, so no point in looking out the window.
It’s about 25 minutes on a coach long a seriously winding road to reach the entrance to Machu Picchu from the station. Entrance is by personal ticket, so you need a passport to get in. Once inside, keep the passport open because you can get a commemorative stamp.
Although the actual site is quite large, some areas—Temple of the Sun, Guard House—were pretty crowded. There is supposed to be a daily limit of 2,500 visitors, but our guide said that no-one pays it much attention.
Pictures of Machu Picchu are so common that I found no real “wow factor” when seeing it myself: “Oh yeah, it really does look like that”. And I couldn’t help thinking about Tintin. The weather was a mostly overcast with occasional bursts of sunshine, but we didn’t get rained on. I did get seriously bitten, though I didn’t notice at the time, which was unfortunate because we did have insect repellent wipes that remained unused. Still I did take plenty of photos.