The Last To Know Hold onto your hats: I’d never heard of Machu Picchu until last October when Fiona mentioned it in an email. I can’t explain it; any time I’d heard it before must’ve gone in one ear and out the other. I recently re-watched the 1997 Seinfeld episode “The Millennium”. Kramer’s visiting a clothing store, Puto Mayo, shoveling chips into his mouth and says, “Mmm! Machu Picchu.” (Of course, it makes no sense here, but still.) Now, almost every time I tell someone I’m in Peru, they say something about Machu Picchu – usually along the lines of how I have to go or about how they’ve always wanted to go. How did you first hear about Machu Picchu? (…and any theory on how I haven’t heard of it until now?)
What is Machu Picchu? Remember Nhung? I told her MP is the Angkor Wat of South America. The “Lost City of the Incas” was built around AD 1450, well-hidden in the Andes Mountains. Mind-bogglingly well-hidden. So much so, the Spanish conquistadors never found it. In 2007 it was voted #6 of the controversial New7Wonders of the World.
“Why I decided to NOT go to Machu Pichu” This was going to be the title of a blog post I won’t get to write. All the people from the past few months insisting that I have to go to MP was almost enough for me to skip it out of spite. My way of saying, Actually, no. I don’t have to go. Billions of people don’t go and they manage just fine.
Not exactly a hop, skip and a jump. It may be only 350 miles from Lima (as a bird flies), but in Peru that amounts to nine total hours of travel each way (taxi, plane, bus, train, bus) not to mention the expense of getting there. I searched for excuses not to go by Googling things like “Machu Picchu overrated”. All I found were articles like this, whining about the expense or trouble of getting there. By and large, Machu Picchu appears to be worth it.
Booked through Condor Travel Someone who works at the US Embassy here in Lima recommended Condor Travel so I got a quote! Total damage for a 4-day trip: $1,660. This includes all transportation (planes, trains, busses), lodging, and meals. With lodging, I’m doing an opposite-ends-of-the-spectrum thing; staying one night at the insanely-expensive Sanctuary Lodge at the entrance of Machu Picchu and 2 nights at $15/night hostels in Cusco.
They delivered this cute canvass envelope to the house with my itinerary, receipts and tickets. My passport also fits nicely in there:
6am: one-hour flight to Cusco.
7:30am: Drop off at Christo Blanco Hostel in Cusco.
1pm: Guided tour of central Cusco, Koricancha, Sacsahuamán.
5:30am: two-hour bus to Ollantaytambo.
8am: two-hour train to Aguas Callientes (town at the base of Machu Picchu).
10am: 30-minute bus up to Machu Picchu.
10:30-5 Guided tour, lunch, free wandering around MP.
6am: Wander around MP.
2pm: 30-minute bus down to Aguas Calientes.
3pm: two-hour train to Ollantaytambo.
5pm: two-hour car ride to Cusco.
7:30pm: check in to EcoPackers Hostel for the night.
1pm: Car to the Cusco airport.
3pm: one-hour flight to Lima.
4:30pm: one-hour taxi back to Fiona’s house.
I don’t follow sports but… A few weeks ago, some Scott Fujita guy announced his retirement from (American) football at Machu Picchu. Article here. Also, this National Geographic article, Top 10 Machu Picchu Secrets is pretty good. Here’s a nice photo of Machu Picchu I grabbed from the internetz:
What about you – is there a travel destination you’ve always wanted to visit? Also, have you been tempted to not do something because people insisted that you “had” to?