- American Airlines Admirals Club New York JFK
- LAN Business Class: New York to Lima
- LAN Economy Class: Lima to Cusco
- Machu Picchu
- LAN Economy Class: Cusco to Lima
- Radisson Decapolis Miraflores
- SUMAQ Lounge Lima
- LAN Business Class Lima to Easter Island
- Easter Island
- LAN Business Class: Easter Island to Santiago
- LAN Neruda Lounge Santiago
- LAN Business Class: Santiago to Lima
- LAN Business Class: Lima to New York
- Yotel New York City
- American Airlines Transcontinental Business Class: New York to Los Angeles
Note: A deeper insight into visiting Machu Picchu can be found here.
I was only in Cusco for a few days, and was really under the weather for one of them, so I didn’t have much time or energy to see other places such as the Sacred Valley. However, I have always been fascinated with Machu Picchu and wanted to spend as much time as possible there. That also meant that I was going to say good-bye to my money, as everything surrounding visiting Machu Picchu is just plain expensive.
I chose to take PeruRail from Cusco, but found out after I bought the tickets that it would be a combination bus/train trip for the time being. Pretty annoying as the round-trip came out to about US$110 from Cusco. The bus was scheduled to leave the Wanchaq station at around 6:30am, connect to the train at Ollantaytambo, and reach Aguas Calientes / Machu Picchu by noon. The return would leave around 4:30pm and reach Cusco around 9pm. Because of these hours, I chose to stay at a hostel near the station – nothing special, just a family guesthouse. Clean, comfortable, and cheap.
The bus ride was unremarkable, as it was still foggy and dark. I passed the time talking with 2 Australian students across the aisle from myself, and we later continued the conversation at the station and on the train. The ride from Ollantay to Aguas Calientes is absolutely amazing, and the beauty is helped with panoramic windows. However, it’s tough to take pictures through the windows, as they do get cloudy and dirty.
Upon arrival in AC, I found a representative from my hostel waiting outside the train station, albeit with another guest’s name and not mine. This hostel was by far the most value-priced thing in AC, about $30 for the night including breakfast. A comfortable bed, hot shower, and some food in my stomach were all I needed.
After dropping my bags off, I realized I had about 5.5 hours to go visit the ruins that same day. I had only purchased a ticket for the next day for Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu while I was in Cusco, but figured that if I had the time, I might as well go that day. I still had a valid ISIC student card, so I was able to purchase a ticket in AC for half price, S/64- (about $23). My ticket to hike Huayna Picchu the next day cost S/76- (about $28).
There is a bus that takes you up the mountain from AC to Machu Picchu. A lot of backpackers hike the mountain to save money, but I don’t blame them. It’s US$9 one-way, US$17 round-trip, no discounts save for children. Switchbacks-On-The-Side-Of-A-Cliff Robbery if you ask me. I elected to get 2 tickets to get up the mountain, and then save money by walking down the mountain, which took about 40 minutes.
Like on a plane, I wanted a seat in the forward part of the cabin on the bus. Each time up the mountain, I got a seat in the first row, right behind the driver. I highly recommend taking the bus one-way only to see how these drivers handle such huge busses as if they were rally cars. Perhaps they’re training for the Dakar.
The next day, I hiked up Huayna Picchu.
The train back was nothing different than the ride there. I spent a bit more than a day in Cusco, but forgot to take my camera out while hopping around with other tourists I met.