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Many words have been written about the ruined Inca city of Machu Picchu, and I can’t think of anything to say about it that hasn’t been said many times already. So I shall content myself with a few words on how to get there, to see for yourself.
There are several train services, from both Cuzco and Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, the nearest rail station to Machu Picchu. There’s the luxurious Hiram Bingham train, which is rated among the "great train rides of the world", and is, I believe, classified as "if you need to ask how much, you can’t afford it". Lower down the scale is the Inca Express, which is favoured by local people, and those on a budget, who would rather spend their money on something else. In between is the Vistadome, which we rode. It’s comfortable, with large windows … and travels along the same track as the Hiram Bingham, so you see pretty much the same thing. And, we did get fed … something between a snack and a full meal.
I did cast a covetous eye on the colourful, traditionally crafted table runners … but they collected them up as soon as the meal was finished.
You can, of course, walk! However, you need to book, for numbers on the Inca Trail are restricted, and it isn’t open all the time. Twenty years ago, I might have been up for it. We’d seen video from one of the port lecturers on a cruise, and it didn’t look much more strenuous than the Pennine Way - though with the added bonus that there were porters to carry the heavy gear, and pitch camp and cook. But whether the service is available to everyone, or just to visiting video crews, he didn’t say.
When you arrive at Aguas Calientes - also sometimes known as Pueblo Machu Picchu - it’s a short walk to the bus station … right through a colourful artisan market! The Peruvians certainly don’t miss a trick, for their craft stalls are to be found just about anywhere tourists gather, and most of it is quality stuff. I’d advise don’t buy anything till you return, because, if you do, you’re bound to spot something you like better on the next stall.
And, besides, the bus is waiting to take you up the mountain to the monument. Do you really want to haul all that stuff around the ruined city?