Today started very, very early. The alarm was set for 4:45 am, giving us 1 1/2 hours until the buses left for the train station. We got ready and went for breakfast. Everyone looked so tired, but all were ready to experience one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. The train station was about 30 minutes away and we were scheduled for the 7:05 train to Machu Picchu.
The train ride was very comfortable. Not quite as nice as the Amtrak train we rode on between Vancouver and Seattle, but not as basic as the White Pass Rail in Skagway. We did see that they had different kinds of accommodations on the train and presumably these were all priced accordingly. Once onboard, we were told that it was a 1 1/2 hour train ride to the train station just below Machu Picchu. We got a snack for the train ride and then watched the scenery go by.
One of the train personnel saw I was trying desperately to get photos from the right side of the train and he took my camera and took a few pictures of the river for me. A few minutes later, when we passed the start of the Incan Trail, he suggested I get up and stand where he was standing to take pictures. I had a partially open window and was able to get a few hundred photos after that. The views were incredible.
We took the train along the river to the station at Machu Picchu. It was misty and drizzly but not too bad. We walked through the market and over the river to a waiting shuttle bus. Shuttle buses regularly make the trip up to Machu Picchu, but we were lucky enough to have our own buses. The trip is about 25 minutes of switchbacks. At times we could see some of the ruins in the distance, but not enough to snap a good photo. It was almost as if we were glued to the side of the mountain at times.
We arrived at Machu Picchu and were given our park passes. Passports are required to enter the park. I unfortunately, missed where we were supposed to go to get our passport stamped. I saw the stamp someone else got and it was really cool.
It was still a bit drizzly, but keep in mind we were at the cloud level so it was bound to happen. We were just hoping we wouldn’t have a full rain. We made our way into the ruins and were in awe of what we saw. We spent the next couple hours touring, taking photos, more touring and more photos. Our guides told us the history of the ruins, the discovery of the ruins in 1910 and history of the Incans while we walked through this amazing site.
Just before lunch we had a couple choices – to go up to the top point or to head back down. Some did each. These last few days have been kicking my butt so I did choose to go back down. We had lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge, the only hotel right outside of the park. This was a nice buffet meal. We then could take a guided tour up the Incan Trail, another guided tour to the other side of the ruins or go on our own. We had about three hours. I chose to go own my own and explored areas we hadn’t been to before after snapping a few photos with my wide angle lens.
At the end of the day, the skies opened up and it was pouring out. Those on the Incan Trail didn’t have spectacular views because of the clouds and rain and we all were back a the meeting location a bit early. Once our group was together, we went to the shuttle pick up location. All those in line were asked to wait while the shuttles loaded up with our group. We were on our way back to town. Here we had some time to shop in the market and get ready for our 5:30 train ride home.
Once again, I have to say some of the Disney differences we have experienced came through today. We were given priority with the shuttle buses each time we needed one, even though our return was early. We also had some issues with illness on this trip. Two people got ill, one a guest and one a guide. Disney is the only company that has two guides for each Adventure by Disney trip, plus local guides in the area. We had just under 40 people in our group. We were able to split into two groups with the local guide and one of our Adventure guides when the other one got ill. If you only had one guide like with other touring companies, what would happen to you if your guide came ill?
I spoke to the guest who was ill. She had her children with her and sent them to the room next door for help. The agents traveling with us called the front desk and they immediately called our guides. One was there in 30 seconds. They called in a doctor and got her treated right away. She needed to rest though so the other guide took the children and brought them to dinner for the evening. She got some much needed rest and the children had a great time making pizzas with the other kids. These extras are priceless in my opinion.
Tomorrow we head up to Cusco and the Pisco Market! Three more days left of our adventure and we can’t wait to see more!