Any travel to Peru is certain to include a visit to the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu. Shrouded in the clouds and enveloped by dense mountaintop forests, the magnetism of this attraction establishes it as a perennial bucket list destination. In spite of the need for requisite planning and a certain amount of flexibility, persistence is well rewarded.
The enduring gateway city of Cusco stands tall in reputation and altitude at 3400 meters, making it one of the highest cities in the world. Having withstood the plundering of conquistadors, earthquakes and growing tourism, it maintains a cultural blend of Inca and colonial architecture, indigenous people in colorful traditional dress and essential market activity.
Ascent to Machu Picchu
Train travel from Cusco to Machu Picchu is not only the most convenient way to travel to the ancient citadel, …..it’s the only way, save for intensive hiking on the infamous Inca Trail. A trail with a 3500 meter ascent presents an exhilarating option if you are predisposed to organic adventure however, the number of hikers allowed is strictly limited making advance reservations essential.
Defying the onus of local generic train service, innovative Inca Rail has recently introduced a distinctive luxury class of train service to the lofty attraction. Three different classes of service depart and return from the Ollantaytambo train station.
This preferred Inca Rail alternative features poshly designed carriages that appeal to refined travelers at reasonable rates. While both Presidential Class and First Class offer live music along with a delectable tasting menu and exquisite wines of the region, the Presidential Class provides for an exclusive private carriage for you and your travel companions, complete with an observatory lounge, plush armchairs and a welcome bottle of champagne. Executive Class offers comfy leather seating and tables plus a selection of freshly prepared drinks and light snacks sampling luxury amenities for less. Several departures and returns are scheduled each day but to be assured of available space, reservations should be made in advance.
A Tribute to the Sun God
Upon reaching the train station at Machu Picchu Pueblo, a shuttle bus transfers guests to the jaw-dropping citadel of ancient ruins. Breathtaking, in terms of visual perception, the history of the Inca heritage is presented by licensed guides which are required for each visitor. Discovered only recently in 1940 this assembly of buildings, terraces and temples was actually constructed by the Incas as a tribute to the Sun God.
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Clinging to cliffs, the remaining structures and terraces stand as a testament to Inca construction ingenuity. Photography buffs will find a paradise loaded with visual targets suitable for trophy framing. Machu Picchu grabs your eyes’ attention and doesn’t let go.
– Steve Leland