Day 178 – Aguas Calientes, PE to Cusco, PE

Day 178 – Aguas Calientes, PE to Cusco, PE      02/15/11      Mileage: 137

I decided to hike out all the way from Aguas Calientes back to Santa Teresa instead of taking the train to the hydroelectric station. So at 8:30 I started walking down the railroad tracks which parallels the now raging Urubamba River. It was a great morning free from yesterdays rain and the temperature was perfect.

The main square in Aguas Calientes

The raging Rio Urubamba

Looking up at Machu Picchu from the valley below…

Hiking along the tracks back to Santa Teresa

It took 2 hours to get back to the hydroelectric station. I had to use an alternate pedestrian bridge as the one I crossed 2 days prior had been washed out last night.

Repairing the bridge after it was washed out the night before…

 That doesn’t bode well for the streams and dirt road I had to traverse on the bike to get out of here. Farther down the road had been washed out were I had stopped to take a picture the other day…I thought the road was a bit close to the river, and apparently it was.

The road was there 2 days ago…

 I was on foot anyway, so I just climbed up the bank onto some boulders and hopped across. Back in Santa Teresa I collected the KLR and left town heading back to Santa Maria and the road back to Cusco. Shortly out of town I was stopped at the point were I had crossed the land slide 2 days ago. A bulldozer was still in the process of clearing it, but the road opened with in half an hour….great!

The rest of the road out was muddy in spots and there was some fallen rock and slide debris here and there, but it was all passable.

Clearing another fresh land slide…

This rock slide took up most of the road and it was a little dicey sneaking by it with the cliff on the right!

After topping up the tank in Santa Maria, it was back up and over the pass back into the Sacred Valley.

Another stream crossing….whitewater motorcycling?

Passing through Ollabtaytambo I saw another KLR sitting in the town square. I pulled over and the owner, Alex, came up and we started swapping stories.


He started from his home in Texas a few months ago and was heading for Ushuaia too…that makes 4 riders in 2 days! We exchanged emails and I continued heading back to Cusco.

Night and rain caught up to me about 20 miles from Cusco so the last part of the ride home wasn’t too pleasant, but that certainly didn’t spoil another great day.

Day 177 – Machu Picchu

Day 177 – Machu Picchu      02/14/11      Mileage: 0

The alarm went off at 4:15 and there are not many things I enjoy getting up that early for, but Machu Picchu I guess is one of them. I had to be up that early so I could be on line for the bus ahead of the crowds and hopefully get to hike up Wayna Picchu(the mountain overlooking Machu Picchu)….as they only let 400 people hike up per day. I figured I came this far…might as well try to do it all. The plaza in Aguas Calientes was empty, but as soon as I turned the corner by the shuttle buses I saw at least 150 people already in line…what time did they get up?! It was another hour wait until they started loading the buses, but I was confident that I was still going to be one of the first 400. The bus ride took about half an hour up a steep switchback road. At the visitor center there was another line and I thought I recognized a couple about 10 people in front of me. I went up and asked where I know them from, but we couldn’t place it. I asked Beto if he rides and he said that he and his girlfriend, Tracy, are riding 2-up on a KTM 990 from Colombia to Ushuaia! They also happen to be talking to another rider, Andrew, who’s from the UK riding a Yamaha XT600 and is on a round the world trip! What a stroke of luck to meet 3 other adventure riders. So enough yada yada… are the pics…..

Beto and Tracy

The view of Machu Picchu from Wayna Picchu

Andrew, Beto and Tracy on Wayna Picchu

These “stairs” are every bit as steep as they look in the picture!

Beto, Tracy, Andrew and I ended up touring the ruins together for a while and exchanged info in the hopes of meeting somewhere down the road. Beto and Tracy went to find the guide they had arranged for and Andrew and I hiked out to see the Inca bridge.

The Inca bridge…

It was pouring at this point so Andrew and I decided we’d seen enough and took the bus back to Aguas Calientes. We were soaked like drowned rats and looking to dry out over a hot meal. We settled into a descent restaurant and chatted about our trips. Afterwards he split for the train back to Ollantaytambo and I went to get dry room as it was too late to make my way back to Santa Teresa. That night the power went out and all the restaurants and businesses were lit by candlelight which made for a very nice scene.

Even the tienda’s looked nice in the candlelight…lol

After a few drinks, light dinner, and some great laughs with a new friend, Genevieve from Switzerland, I called it a day…and a very full and rewarding one at that.