Peru - To Machu Picchu

  Andrys Basten, photos taken 5/23/97 (Click to enlarge)

Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary

View from bus
Approaching Machu Picchu by Bus (118k)

    This is from the bus window as we climbed toward Machu Picchu. We had transferred to this bus at Puente Ruinas after a pleasant 3.5 hour ride on the train from Cusco and had about 20 more minutes of riding, about 4 miles up the very zig-zaggy road Hiram Bingham Highway. The sun was bright, at about 10:30 a.m., and the views as we zig-zagged along the mountain were just literally breathtaking. I actually couldn't believe I was finally seeing this place. Approximately 8,000 feet above sea level, this area is surprisingly tropical in appearance.

    Clicking on the picture gives an enlargement twice the height of the monitor, but that size will give the best idea of what it feels like to approach this site by bus (helicopters are another option). At this point, I was getting pretty excited and amazed I was actually finally here. Below us is the Urubamba River

    To get a medium-height version that will fit on a monitor set at 800x600, here's a smaller enlargement (59k).

Vendor family at train stop

    This is from the window of our train which had departed Cuzco at 6 a.m., causing us to be (not quite) awakened at 5 a.m. for the morning trip.

    The trip began with a climb out of Cuzco, which is about 12,500 feet above sea level and was notable for the view of red-roofed buildings of that city at dawn and for the back and forth zigzags on the tracks, necessary on mountains too steep for normal railroad curves. The descent down a narrow gorge brought us terrific views of white water and we followed this lower portion of the Urubamba River for some time.

    At all tourist-oriented train stops, vendors hope to sell sweaters, rugs, wall hangings, knit-headpieces (with the child here modeling a quieter one than those out for the tourists) as well as jewelry, food , crystal ware,and sometimes paintings.

    (133k)         Wall hangings at train stop
Colorful wall hangings and rugs are displayed at almost every train stop along the way.

    A smaller section of the river is in the background.

    When we transferred from the train to the bus that goes up the final 2,000 feet to the ruins at Machu Picchu, enthusiastic vendors were everywhere. While I wasn't in shopping mode, the vendors found a receptive crowd in the people waiting in lines for the buses.


Next . . .Entering Machu Picchu. . .

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