I got a reply from one of the recipients of this (what is
it?) - travelogue?
He asked how we felt up at high altitude. I am planning on
altitude medication in a later chapter. The most common
Diamox - is something which helps you deal with the lower
high altitude. I had taken Diamox prior to taking a 6 hour
flight from Miami
to Quito Ecuador at 9,000 feet and felt ok. But this was a
one hour flight
from Lima to Cusco at 11,000 feet. I felt fine til we got
to the hotel and I
had to repeatedly go to the second floor - pant,pant. But
after a few days,
you do tend to acclimatize to it and it's not as bad.
As you take the train down to Aguas Calientes at 6,500
feet, you can feel the air
getting denser, and see the steep, dry rocky mountiansides
turn into lush, moist
steep mountainsides. (sorry about the reflection in the
window glass - best I could do!)
No road exists into the valley. You can hike in or take the
train. Many of these
foundations are original Inca construction and are clearly
still being lived in.
You can see that this small farm - this widening in the
valley is almost at
water level. When the flood happened, this must have been
As we approach our destination, it almost is looking like
tropical rain forest.
The town of Aguas Calientes has a small hydroelectric
For people who want to through-hike, but not carry all of
their gear, you can hire
a porter who will do the lifting for you. They are young,
and learning English so
they can become guides someday.
Finally - we arrive. It doesn't go any further.
We disembark (big word for getting off) (or I get off on
using big words)
in town. We have left most of our luggage back in Cusco at
because we will be here only two nights.
I didn't know this at the time, but explorer Hiram Bingham,
who is credited for
discovering the lost city of Machu Picchu in 1911, must
have come into this
valley before any town existed here. Somewhere up where
the red arrow points
is our famous destination.
The city of Aguas Calientes (Hot Springs) in the
municipality of Machu Picchu is frequently
called by the same name. For some reason, when the
Urubamba River approaches the
town, they call it the Rio Vilcanota, which joins the Rio
Aguas Calientes. These peaceful rivers
will become a destructive, raging torrent months from now
(see chapter coming on the flood.)
We step foot in Machu Picchu!
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