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Pueblo Machu Picchu Hotel
Destination of the Month for June 2011

Ever since I was a little girl and after having read the Adventures of Tintin and Snowy by Hergé I had dreamt of visiting this part of Peru. The two books I am referring to here are: The Seven Cristal Balls and The Temple of the Sun.

We got up early, packed the last few things, had a delicious breakfast, took some last minute pictures and were ready to leave for Puerto Maldonado, back to the airport and then off to Cusco!

That morning the sky looked menacing, but as the day grew older the big black cloud faded and it was a bright day again! The flight elapsed uneventful. Getting to Cusco it hit me; the puna or soroche, as they call it. As soon as the door from the airplane opened, my head felt heavy, my arms and legs felt as though somebody had drained all the strength from them. Fortunately I knew what to do, I had been in La Paz 20 years before, so I moved slowly, tried not to carry too much weight and made the least effort I could.

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Cusco from the airplane looked fantastic! But we weren’t yet coming to Cusco… Two nights at Aguas Calientes, the town at the foothill of Machu Picchu was our next stop. We are pleased by the reception in Cusco by our guide and driver, who took care of our luggage and guided us to a comfortable SUV with pillows and cool mineral water (it is highly recommended to drink lots of water at high altitude). Two hours of driving took us through the sierras, descending from 3,400 meters to 2,400 meters in Ollantaytambo. There we took the train to Aguas Calientes at 5:00pm. Two more hours by train to reach our final destination for the next couple of days. The Vistadome is a train with a lot of windows and it is the best relation price/quality of service choice we could make.

We get to Aguas Calientes at around 7:00pm. It is already dusk; we can only perceive the silhouette of the hill by the train station. We are met by our host from Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel at the station. José, our host, is a very nice person, always cheerful. He guides us from the train station, across a bridge, into the hotel. The hotel opens up before us as a little town in the middle of exuberant and lush vegetation it is a surprise of excellent taste and careful planning by its architect and biologist, their owners.

The white of the houses (casitas), the reddish brown of their tiles and the green of the vegetation are put together in true harmony, like in a painting. We register in the lobby enjoying our welcome drink (a pisco sour and a fruit juice). We are then lead to our room. The room is comfortably furnished; we get a fireplace, a sitting area by the Urubamba River (sacred river), and the King size bed with Peruvian cotton bed sheets. Peruvian cotton robes, rubber flip-flops, chocolates, dried fruit and mineral water are all the extras we get for our stay. We feel truly pampered! Although we are very tired after a long day and journey, we freshen up, take a shower and get dressed for dinner. Walking through the casitas we get to the building where the dining room is, it also faces the Urubamba River. Although it is so dark that we cannot see it now, we can hear its strong current.

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In the menu they feature Cuy, a delicacy that is mainly served in big family reunions and at weddings in this part of Peru. So my brave husband dares to order it. I am more conservative and order fish.

After a glorious meal and a few laughs, we retire to our lovely room happy and with a feeling of anticipation on our program the next day. We sleep like angels. Next day we get up very early, so as to have time to see the sunrise in Machu Picchu.

We have an early breakfast. And right as we come into the lobby at 6:30am there is Fabricio, our guide to Machu Picchu. We dash off to the bus stop where we have to take one of the many buses that go up to Machu Picchu that day. We get in the first one in line and a couple of minutes later we are on our way! The 25 minutes ride that takes us from Aguas Calientes at 2,100 m above sea level to 2,400 m.a.s.l. is curvy and steep and at some points only one lane…

At the entrance to Machu Picchu there are already a lot of people. I noticed that the hotel by the entrance of the park is the Sanctuary Lodge. This is a green building that gets a lot of much noise and pollution from the buses that come and go all day long. It looks very busy all the time.

Finally we get in! Our guide starts talking about Hiram Bingham and Machu Picchu as we approach the doorway that opens up to the view of Machu Picchu (old mountain) and of Huayna or Wayna Picchu (young mountain).

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As I cross the threshold, and see what I have longed to see for years, tears start filling my eyes… how absurd, I think and dare not look at my husband or our guide, Fabricio. My husband’s reaction was exactly the same. Fabricio notices this and tells us that it is not uncommon. We feel relieved not to be the only ones who get emotional at the sight of such beauty. We have centuries of history before us… Art and architecture, engineering and landscaping, science and astronomy, agriculture and ecology, religion and laws, all blend here harmoniously.

We went on a photo spree, my husband and I. The admiration I felt for the Incas, has become stronger after visiting Machu Picchu. We had three hours with our guide, three hours where we learned a lot about the empire, also about the speculations and legends on why it disappeared so suddenly. After the three hours, we enjoyed a very nice pack lunch from the hotel and then, Fabricio was gone. My husband and I had Machu Picchu to us now! We walked along the paths, climbed the uneven steps, went to the Incan bridge, enjoyed the company of baby twin llamas, and climbed to the highest point on Machu Picchu. Thus, we spent 3 or 4 more hours… We could witness the change in hues with the change in light as the day wore older.

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Getting down to Aguas Calientes was easy. Fabricio had handed us our tickets and all we had to do is to get out of the park and get in line to board one of the buses right by Sanctuary Lodge. The ride downhill, as exciting as the ride uphill! From the bus stop to the hotel, a 10 minutes walk. Longer if you want to have a look and linger at the town open market by the train station.

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The hotel has a number of excursions to offer, and if you register for them the day before you can, at the arranged time, start your tour at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. Pueblo Hotel owns a big piece of land where you may take around half of the excursions offered by them. Upon your arrival you get a map of Aguas Calientes and of the hotel as well as the list of the excursions offered here. As in Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica we have the spa ENA, here the spa UNU offers a number of therapies that are very welcome after a day’s hike in Machu Picchu. Here you realize that you can enjoy much more than just the visit to Machu Picchu.

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