May 12th. Sorry we’re a bit out of order, as this is before Wayna Picchu. Traveling to the town of Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, is not easy. Especially when traveling there just a few months after devastating landslides damaged the train tracks, stranding many tourists at the town.
Well, the train track has been rebuilt, at least partly. But instead of taking the train directly from Cusco (roundabout 3h away by train), one must first ride a minibus for 2.5h along winding switchbacks and across dusty, bumpy dirt roads to Piscacucho. From there, the train takes you the last 2h beside the raging river, where you can see lovely views like this one:
Yes, that appears to be the old track strewn across the river rocks. Very reassuring.
The town itself is nothing special. I didn’t visit the hot springs (because that’s not my thing). Frommer says they’re somewhat dirty, but refreshing for hikers fresh off the Inca Trail. I did have some tasty trout ceviche – raw trout slices with a strong lemon sauce. Either this or a Pisco Sour (a drink, probably made with some “local water” ice) led to some brief… errr… digestive issues the next morning. So, beware what you eat and drink.
I found these varied roofing tiles an interesting contrast, mirroring a lot of what I see in Peru: extreme poverty next to attempted modernity (e.g. Lima).
Huy (a.k.a. guinea pig) is a local specialty available in nearly every restaurant. I didn’t try it, though, and instead had a crispy pizza at Chez Maggy (a restaurant I can highly recommend!).I believe it was chorizo, egg, and plantain:
I went to sleep early to be ready for Machu Picchu the next day. Pirwa Hostel was… well, let’s just say the staff was friendly and nice. Otherwise I wouldn’t recommend it too highly (I had a moldy room, intermittent bathroom light, lack of lockers, just bread + butter + jam for breakfast). Disclaimer: it could be great in comparison to other hostels there… I have no idea.
Next up: one of the most amazing ancient-city-ruins on the planet, Machu Picchu. And, according to Internet vote, one of the new seven wonders of the modern world! If you’re interested to read about Machu Picchu, just subscribe via RSS or email to be notified when the article is live.