Despite being on top of a mountain, the ruins of Machu Picchu are actually lower in elevation than the city of Cusco. You descend into the Sacred Valley of the Inca, from the higher city of Cusco.
We arrived during the rainy season, in February, when the train tracks are under repair and heavy rains lead to mudslides. This meant we were not able to take the train, all the way from Cusco to Machu Picchu. Our first leg, about half the journey, was by bus. We transferred to the train only after getting through the steepest of the mountain passes. In this month, also, the Inca trail, a walking path through the mountains to the ruins, is closed, reopening in March. 4 days of hiking mountain trails was beyond us, so we were not too disapointed to take the bus/train option.
The train ends at Aguas Calientes, a town at the base of the Machu Picchu mountain. From there another, local,bus takes you up a narrow, windy road to the ruins. Boy found the twisty mountain road a bit rough, and was more than happy to stop moving when we reached the top.
We have been studying Incas all week, in preparation for the ruins. These are a few of our books:
We got in a bit of astronomy studies, too. The hotel at the ruins, is high on a mountain with little atmosphere and little light pollution. When it got dark, they set up a telescope and we had a chance to view Jupiter, the moon, and several galaxy clusters before the cloud cover moved in. Boy loved his first telescope experience.
Resting overnight, we hit the ruins at dawn. The rainy season limited the crowds, so we had a few times in the morning where we were alone in the maze of buildings. Despite his protests about visiting yet, another, old thing, Boy was inspired to take photos. He took so many that he ran out the camera battery TWICE.
Here are a few of his shots:
After Boy ran out the camera battery the second time, we talk the bus back down to Aguas Calientes to board the train back to Cusco. The train and bus took us back up to the higher elevation, and back to the city.