We woke up very early, around 5:30 am to catch an early bus to Ollantaytambo, to then catch a train to Augas Calientes. The PeruRail is an more upscale train, but not the most upscale available. We rode in a vistadome car, which had open windows perfect for viewing the beautiful scenery on the way to Augas Calientes.
If you’re into the high-end train rides, you can drop some serious soles in Peru on Hiram Bingham Orient-Express . A one-way ticket from Cusco to Machu Picchu is around $400. Wowza!
Augas Calientes is a ramshackle town, built around the train tracks, in a mountain valley right outside of Machu Picchu. The whole town looks like it was thrown up in a hurry to accommodate the flood of tourist pouring through each year.
Every building looked half complete; roofs made of tin, exposed sides of buildings. I was a little nervous even venturing to the 2nd floor of a restaurant. Brian loved every inch of it. He said it was like a town out of a movie; the type of town that is the last stop, before the people there head out for adventure. This was a good thing, since we were there for an adventure, afterall.
After dropping off our bags at our hotel, the Continental Hostal, we had lunch with our group at El Indio Feliz. El Indio Feliz was one of the best restaurants we ate at while in Peru. The Peruvian food was absolutely divine and the portions were HUGE!
After lunch we went on a hike to find the trail weaving up Putukusi (or Putucusi) Mountain. An infamously more dangerous trail, we were willing to take the risk for the raved about views we had read about. At the top of Putukusi you can view Machu Picchu in complete solitude. Since Machu Picchu was the main reason we traveled to Peru we were eager to see it a day early.
Finding Putukusi Trail
The scenery on our trek to find Putukusi was stunning. Walking down the railroad tracks, there was a river on our left and cloud forest mountains completely surrounding us. Well about 1.5 hours of walking, and actually making it to the end of the railroad tracks, we realized we had somehow missed the trail. Turning back around and continually asking passerbys where the trail was, we finally found the trail located about 5 minutes outside of town….yep 5 minutes. Only over shot it by 85 minutes! Adventure!
Now remember how I said the trail was kinda dangerous. Welp it’s so steep you actually have to climb up ladders on a few parts of the trail. We had heard from a few locals that the ladders had been washed away with the heavy rains, so the trail was even more dangerous. We hiked for about 30 minutes before we arrived at the part where we actually saw the remnants of the washed ladders ourselves. In their place was a long metal cable. Our ambitious travel buddy Joel actually climbed up all the way to the top. Me on the other hand, climbed far enough up to just catch a cool photo.
Here’s a photo at the same point with the ladders still there, I found on the Traveler website.
After our disappointing hike, Brian and I checked out the hot springs (what the town is named after). The springs were relaxing, but were also kinda smelly and dirty. They’re sulfur springs and were filled with around twenty people who had surely been hiking all day too. Lucky for us there was a restaurant and bar located right above the springs and with one quick wave a beer was promptly delivered to our side. The beers definitely made the smell more tolerable. We hung out until we were prunie.
Later that night we enjoyed dinner at Hot Springs I and had drinks at Toto House. Hot Springs I was one of my least favorite restaurants in the Southern Hemisphere. Funny to note, Hot Springs II was about 30 yards away from Hot Springs I which I’m guessing was just as bad.
Toto House on the other hand was just what we were looking for. With a huge open porch like feel, Brian and I sipped wine and enjoyed sitting by the fire anticipating the next day ahead!
Stay tuned for next post about Peru! It’s a good one about this placed called Machu Picchu. Ever heard of it?