Being in Machu Pichu was an amazing personal experience. Actually getting there was a completely different story. It involved taxis, buses, and extremely overpriced and inconvenient trains. Every year the park and train prices are raised. I hope this trend stops, because I believe that the cost is approaching a price point that is beyond what the normal traveler is willing to pay. This is true of all of the sites near Cusco, where many entry fees have DOUBLED in three years. Traveling in this particular region is getting prohibitively expensive.
The same can be said of the famous Incan Trail. This four-day trek costs $400 or more and is limited to 500 people per day. Guides and porters are required, so the actual number of backpackers is more like 200. Alternate treks are available, but those are also getting too expensive and will probably soon have daily quotas as well. For die-hard backpackers like us, it is a true shame that such wonderful trails are off-limits to budget travelers or those who would prefer to hike without an entourage of guides and porters. I'm glad we spent our time hiking near Huaraz instead. Thanks again, Mark G. for that advice.
Enough about the sad state of affairs surrounding Machu Pichu - let us instead focus on the beauty of the park itself.
The train ride was quite fun, even if it moved at a snail's pace. The views of Urubamba Valley were spectacular.
The Incas utilized existing boulders for their structures.
I want one!
Alisa - your hat is still going strong.
A chess match between a Peruvian and a Russian. It was really neat to come upon such an odd mix - you don't often see chess matches, let alone female chess players, let alone in an Incan city! Oh, and it should come as no surprise that the Russian won. I congratulated her in Russian.
On our way out of the park, the lamas blocked the trail. It was the highlight of my day as they showed no fear in walking close to us, or getting close with each other.
The classic Machu Pichu view.