Friday Lens Affair 146

Getting to Aguas Calientes, Peru

This week I’m sharing with you a picture of the road to Aguas Calientes, Peru. Taken by Brianne Miers from A Traveling Life Blog.

Brianne has travelled extensively since her first trip overseas to China at the age of 11. Wow! Her blog focuses on how to balance a career with a life of travel. Do follow her for more adventures and advice on Facebook and Instagram.

Photo Story: Getting to Aguas Calientes

The lesson of this photo is: take the train.

While some people save and plan for years before visiting Machu Picchu – considered a “bucket list” destination for most travellers – my friend and I waited to book our tour until 9 p.m. the night before we departed Cusco.

Having arrived in town without a plan, we chatted up various tour operators and discovered that the cheapest train tickets to Aguas Calientes, which serves as the jumping-off point for visiting Machu Picchu, were rough $150 round trip. Whoa.

Because my friend was getting to the end of his cash after a year on the road, and I’m a bargain shopper, we were convinced that we could find a better deal.

We did at our hostel, which had a tour departing at 8:30 a.m. the next morning for the impressively low price of around $100 – including one night in a hostel AND the $40 admission fee to the park.

The catch was that we had to travel by bus, which would take twice as long as the train. “It can’t be that bad, right?” I asked my friend.

It was bad. For more than six hours in an un-airconditioned, dusty and cramped van, 14 other tourists and I braced ourselves against seats, ceiling and anything else we could grab onto as we flew around hairpin turns on the 70-mile journey.

Only the brave among us dared to look out the windows – there were no guardrails to keep us from plummeting down the steep slope to the valley below – and we frequently came face-to-face with trucks travelling in the opposite direction, resulting in some terrifying manoeuvring on the narrow dirt road.

At one point, there was a collective shriek when we charged over a swollen stream on two narrow wooden planks in place of where the road had been.

Needless to say, we were quick to disembark when we pulled into the parking lot at Hidroelectrica, the site of a – you guessed it – hydroelectric plant about 15 miles from Aguas Calientes.

About every 15-20 minutes, a train would blow past us, sending us scrambling into the trees as the comfortable passengers seated inside waved to us from the windows.

We arrived in the bustling tourist town of Aguas Calientes sore from our long walk and damp from a quick downpour.

Collapsing in the main square under the statue of Pachacutec – the Incan emperor that built Machu Picchu – we enjoyed a well-deserved Cerveza and tried not to think that in less than 24 hours we would need to do the whole trip all over again to get back to Cusco.

Do you love this series? Check out rest of Friday Lens Affairs here!

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37 thoughts on “Friday Lens Affair 146

  1. Wow! What a story! Stuff like this has happened to me quite some times. That is why now I have a set of questions I ask a tour operation before taking one of their excursions. Anyway, things cannot be taken for granted. You do not know when you are going to get caught on one of those crazy travel stories.

  2. A first trip to China at age 11 must have been an incredible experience. This photo taken in Peru is interesting.
    budget jan recently posted…Piran on the Adriatic Coast of Slovenia has Charm by the bucketloadsMy Profile

  3. This is a really beautiful photo! #MondayEscapes
    Kate recently posted…The Best of Madrid in 24 Hours or LessMy Profile

  4. Indeed a well composed frame well treated to black and white! Long since I have taken a rail travel.
    Thanks for sharing yours.
    Indrani recently posted…Faces of India – 269My Profile

  5. Great pic, it immediately caught my attention. Nice of you to feature Brianne’s photography. I’ll make a mental note to take the train to Aguas Calientes one day…not the bus ;-)
    Birgit recently posted…A walk in the clouds of MeteoraMy Profile

  6. I love how my eyes are lead to the center! Lovely capture =)
    Merlinda Little ( recently posted…Afternoon CraftMy Profile

  7. Thanks for sharing this excellent record of your experience. By the way, a beautiful B&W photo very composed.

    Alexander

  8. Świetne zdjęcie. Bardzo ładne szarości i kompozycja
    Jarek recently posted…Trzciny tańczace na wietrze / Reed flower fluttering in the windMy Profile

  9. That’s a great picture with an incredible story.
    Rhonda recently posted…Highlights of Vancouver – Much More than a Port CityMy Profile

  10. I enjoyed reading your experience. It is the same in India to get to any base camp in the Himalayas!

  11. Thanks for sharing; much love…

  12. That is an amazing photo! It would look great blown up on a big canvas on the wall #MondayEscapes

  13. Enjoyed your photostory of getting to Aguas Calientes and thanks for your tip. Will be using the train when I finally do get to visit Machu Picchu. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  14. Rachel

    Sounds like an adventure! Living life on the edge ;) #mondayescapes

  15. What an adventure! I’m not sure how I feel about a six hour ride in a bus in the Andes. I can tell you, though, the train was comfortable. However, we almost didn’t get to go as a strike was looming. I would have bused if necessary. Stay intrepid!
    Jim ~ ReflectionsEnroute recently posted…Experiencing Eastern EuropeMy Profile

  16. This is an amazing photograph. I feel like I am going on that bridge instead of just looking at the image. Well done!
    JM, Illinois-U.S.A.

  17. Love this shot… very dramatic and well composed!

  18. Kim Bergstrom

    Hi there. How did you know that walking two and a half hours in a foreign country was tops on my bucket list! Boy – thanks for letting us ride along on your journey to Aguas Calientes. Hm … I think I’ll take the train!

  19. Thank you so much for the opportunity to feature my photo & story!

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