Machu Picchu in 1 day

As one of the new seven wonders of the world, Machu Picchu is one of Latin America’s top touristic destinations. The ruins that are more than 500 years of age, represent a monumental architectural and engineering design of the Incas. The city served for religious, agricultural and ceremonial centre to name a few, and was built in an isolated mountain ridge where the Spanish conquistadors never found it.

There are a few ways to get to Machu Picchu and most travel agencies will provide all options. If you are not limited with time, the famous Inca Trail (4-day trek) could be your best bet. Jose and I did the 1-day tour with Inka Travel agency for 200 USD. The tour included; bus transportation, train tickets and entrance to Machu Picchu with a 2 hour guided tour.

The day started around 4:45 am when a bus came to pick us up from our hostel. Then, there was a 2-hour bus ride to Ollantaytambo station. For train schedules or if you decide to go on your own, you can find info in Peru Rail.

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Train to Machu Picchu

The train ride to Aguas Calientes is about 1 hour and a half. Is a nice train ride where we looked at beautiful mountains in the surrounding areas and drank some coca tea with snacks (included with the ticket purchase).

Machupicchu Pueblo or Aguas Calientes is the last stop before reaching Machu Picchu. There area plenty of restaurants, shops and hotels in Aguas Calientes. After arriving here, we took a bus uphill for about 40 minutes where we finally reached the ruins. Our tickets were included in our tour package and at the entrance, you can get a stamp of Machu Picchu on your passport!

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Beginning of Machu Picchu

Our tour guide gave us an introduction of Machu Picchu, how the city is believed to have a population of less than 1000 people as well as the history behind the Yale professor who showed Machu Picchu to the world. Jose and I decided to split up and we did a 40-minute walk to Puerta del Sol (is a trek that was part of the Inca Trail). Once you get to the top, you’ll see a view of Machu Picchu that is worth contemplating for a while.

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View from Puerta del Sol

Before walking around inside the ruins, we took a moment to take some classic photos of the majestic Machu Picchu!

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In the afternoon, we were able to join a guided tour in English. The tour guide walked us around the homes of the ruling elite, the giant walls as well as terraces that served for agriculture and their water distribution system.

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If you have the time, you also can climb Huayna Picchu, the mountain that rises over Machu Picchu. You’ll need to book tickets in advance. For us, 5 hours was enough to cover many important places of the site.

That’s it for Machu Picchu amigos! It’s a truly magical place that’s definitely a must when visiting South America!

Next stop: Copacabana and Isla del Sol.



Cusco, capital of the Inca Empire

My good friend Jose and I, have been wanting to do a Peru – Bolivia trip for a while. So one day, we decided to take action and bought flight tickets for a little over 2 weeks. Our first stop was Cusco.

This Iconic South American city was the capital of the Inca Empire and has an architectural mixture of the Incas as well as the Spanish. It’s filled with beautiful narrow streets and buildings from hundreds of years ago that today, are still well preserved.

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The City of Cusco

Before getting to Cusco, we did some research for decent and cheap hostels where we could stay. There are tons of options but after reading reviews over and over, we settled for Wild Rover. We were not disappointed. For us, a twin room with one bunk bed and a private bathroom was 99 soles per night or about 30 USD. There are much cheaper options, a shared 14-16 beds dorm start at 24 soles or around 7 USD per night, per person!! Some of the hostel services include; Wi-Fi, free breakfast and storage room.

Our arrival was in the afternoon at Wild Rover and its location is pretty convenient. Its only a few blocks away from Plaza de Armas (the main plaza of the city) and is surrounded by restaurants, shops, travel agencies and the Church of the Society of Jesus.

Plaza de Armas

After walking around Plaza de Armas, we were recommended by locals to eat ceviche at El Paisa Restaurant. I had a decent fish ceviche for 25 soles or 7.50 USD. The restaurant is also well known for having live performances of local artists. Our day continued with a walk around the beautiful San Blas with its narrow streets and colonial style buildings.

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Streets of Cusco

The night ended at the Wild Rover bar. You can’t beat their happy hour specials! (7 soles or 2 USD for 2 vodka, rum or pisco drinks). Our hostel was a nice place to party and meet travelers from all over the world!

The next morning, the first stop was at Jacks Café for breakfast (brunches there are highly recommended). Prices vary from 3 to 8 USD. The next stop was at San Pedro central market. It’s a market where you can see everything, from traditional crafts and souvenirs to fruit juice stands. It’s also a very, very cheap place where you can eat for 5 soles or 1.50 USD (we personally never ate there).

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San Pedro Market

As you walk around the streets of Cusco, you’ll see many travel agencies that offer city tours as well as tours to Machu Piccu, Salar de Uyuni and many other places. We decided to use Inka Travel agency for a one-day city tour. It included transportation from the city center, entrance to Saqsayhuaman, Tambomachay and Q’enqo ruins as well as a guided tour of the “Convento de Santo Domingo del Cusco”. The afternoon tour that we had lasted for about 4 hours and the price was 70 soles or 21 USD. Some of these places require an additional entrance fee and you can pay it in advance with the travel agency or once you get there. I recommend taking the early morning tour as it can get chilly in the afternoon/night in Cusco.

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Convento de Santo Domingo del Cusco

After the tour we had a glorious dinner at Café Morena. The mighty “Inca Trail Burger” costs around 9 USD. The day finished with a couple of Cusqueña beers at Paddy’s Irish Pub, located in Plaza de Armas.

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Inca Trail Burger

Our next day consisted mainly in visiting some of the museums that the city has to offer. The first stop was at “Museo de Arte Precolombino” which has a collection of artworks of pre-Columbian Peru. Then “Museo Machu Picchu Casa Concha” which has a vast collection of artifacts and objects discovered in Machu Picchu. Our Cusco tour ended with dinner at “Chicha”, a restaurant by Gaston Acurio (one of Peru’s finest chefs). I had a Crema de Papa for 29 soles or about 9 USD.

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That’s it for Cusco folks! This beautiful city that serves as a crossroad to Machu Picchu is waiting for you!

Next Stop: Machu Picchu