Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Peru Rail- Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu and Return

Because Macchu Picchu is in a pretty remote area, the only option for reaching it is by foot or by train.  Since treks have to be arranged far in advance and take several days, we opted to take the train.  Peru Rail runs several routes to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo); from Cusco, Urubamba, and Ollantaytambo.  The Ollantaytambo train takes the least amount of time at around an hour and a half.  We chose that train.

Though many people stay overnight in Cusco, Urubamba, or Ollantaytambo and take a morning train into Aguas Calientes, we chose to take an afternoon train from Ollantaytambo and overnight in Aguas Calientes.  For a short trip like ours, that option gives you the most time to enjoy Machu Picchu itself, because buses begin running at around 5:30 and the site opens around the same time.

We booked the "Vistadome" service and arrived at Ollantaytambo station to board train Vistadome 603 for our trip 3:27 PM trip to Aguas Calientes.
 The train itself was fairly nondescript but comfortable for a short trip.  Seats are assigned at ticketing, and we were fortunate enough to be seated near the front of the first car, which meant that we had a good view out of the front window.

An interesting aspect to our trip was that we shared the ride with a film crew from "Strip the City" a Science Channel show that's going to be doing an episode on Machu Picchu.  They set up cameras:

And filmed all aspects of the trip from the station:
 The scenery:

 To the engineer himself:

 And just because I sometimes like to be meta, I took a picture of someone who decided to film the film crew:

  I'll be awaiting the episode (mid-March, maybe) with great anticipation.

Anyway, the scenery along the ride is pretty magnificent:

 Even if the "snack" served is not:

 The snack was a roll with peppers and cheese and tea or soda and was included in the price of our ticket (approx. $55 one-way).  After descending from the high desert down into the jungle, we rounded a bend and got our first look at Aguas Calientes, perched on the banks of the Urubamba River.
 When we pulled into the station, we caught a glimpse of the far more expensive and fancy "Hiram Bingham" train that runs from Cusco to Aguas Calientes.  Maybe next time...

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