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The Amazing New Adventures of Larry and Mark - Peru, Land of the Incas
TRAIN TO MACHU PICCHU - HIGHLANDS
Early the next morning we depart for the most eagerly anticipated part of our adventure. We're going to Machu Picchu. The train station is only a quarter mile walk from our hotel. Everyone has seen pictures of the mountains of Machu Picchu, and you get the feeling they're very high. Actually, we are descending from here. We are at about 9,000 feet here in Ollantaytambo, and we will reach our destination at the foot of Machu Picchu at the town called Aguas Calientes, although many people call the town by the same name as the archeological site. Aguas Calientes is only 6.500 feet, and then we will rise by bus this afternoon to Machu Picchu which lies at about 8,500 feet.
There are no roads to Aguas Calientes. You can either take the train or hike in. We are following the Urubamba River downstream through the deep, steep valleys. This has great significance in the great flood which happened here in December 2009 (more on this later.)
We are taking the Vistadome train. A later picture will show all the windows in the train. We leave on the early train so we will have a full day. The Backpacker train is less fancy, costs less, and makes stops along the way to pick up, and let off passengers and hikers. The "Hiram Bingham" train is part of the international "Orient Express" system and is very elegant. Much more about Hiram Bingham, the explorer who discovered the lost city of Machu Picchu, later.
Vistadome gets us there with great views and a little box breakfast.
Much better than little views and a great breakfast:
Ben DeTora has made a friend in the train station. He lives here. (Not Ben.)
The mountains around the train station are high and higher,
and dry and dryer.
Willow is all ready for the adventure ahead. If he needs oxygen, what
does that mean for us?? He's just clowning around. He could run
up these mountains. I'm not kidding.
The crew welcomes us aboard.
Helen and Mark get the best view in the house.
I offered to drive.
Bottom right is Dr. Field and half of his better half, Carolyn.
Not a proudworthy photo, but shows all the windows in the train.
Do this anyplace in the U.S. and they will yell at the kids to get off the tracks.
Here, this is the only road to school.
Along this portion of the Urubamba River, the tallest mountain
is Veronica, at 5750 meters = 18,690 feet tall.
We pass by one of the hiker camp sites. In a different decade,
I might have wanted to hike the Inca Trail myself.
As we wend our way down the twisty valley, I imagine what this area
looked like before the rail way was cut through. After the flood, parts
of this ceased to exist.
Many unrestored archeological ruins lie along the Urubamba. These
were likely to be fortified areas which allowed the ruling Inca to protect
their territory, and to control commerce.
This foot bridge across the river may be modern, but note the
underlying rocks are of Inca construction.
The terraces in this area were not for agriculture purposes, but erosion
was understood and controlled in this way. The angled rocks are "stairs"
which project from the walls.
We are now coming down to lower altitude, and we will be getting
into greener landscape with the next chapter, coming soon.
You may reach me with comments:
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