Ollantaytamboo (Olly) To Machu Picchu
We took Peru Rail from Olly, a lovely village with Inca ruins (1 of our favourite spots – see info/photos below) to Aguas Calientes (AC) – the town at the base of Machu Picchu.
The train trip to Machu Pichu (MP) took a few hours and we were served morning tea at our seat. The seating on the train was a little cramped but the food and service was ok (not great). The rail line follows the beautiful river – the only thing that spoils the natural environment is the pollution at times, mostly on river bends, where plastic water bottles accumulate. On feedback to Peru Rail we did mention this and they promised to consult with other businesses and government to improve things for both the environment and the people – many who live in poverty near the rail line. Might be wishful thinking on our part but better to speak up rather than not we say. We hope things have improved when others travel there?
This train doesn’t take you right to MP – you disembark the train at the small town of AC. If you were up early enough in Olly and took the first train out, it is possible to then get the bus straight up to MP and perhaps return to Olly by train that night. Instead, we had a relaxed pace with 2 nights in AC – at El MaPi, a large hotel which we found quite good. There was a restaurant in the hotel and also plenty of cafes, restaurants & shops within a few minutes walk. Consider altitude medication taken well before your trip to MP because at this stage, we did meet up with some people who didn’t take it and they weren’t feeling at all well and even 1 who was unable to get up to MP. We were fine although we found the meds reduced our appetite a little – not such a bad thing! On the subject of food…as soon as you arrive in AC, might be worth going to a local supermarket (only small ones) and perhaps take snack food/fruit/water for lunch after your MP visit? There’s not much food on offer once you get to MP. There’s only an expensive hotel buffet lunch which we heard was crowded with tour groups & “disappointing”. There’s also a fast food outlet selling burgers etc. Of course, buy the tickets for MP on-line before you arrive.
We employed a private guide at the MP gate – a much cheaper way to do it even if the travel agents in AC say otherwise! She was excellent – even taking photos of us (see below). Her English was very good and she gives just the right amount of information for history enthusiasts like me; if you’re a Inca History expert you might want to organise someone beforehand with higher quals – we did see a study group there. It wasn’t too crowded and we just loved the whole day! We returned to AC for dinner (pizza across from hotel) and the next day returned with Peru Rail to Olly.
In OLLY – HOTEL EL ALBERGUE (see photo) IS A TRAIN LOVER’S DELIGHT! – a restored railway station, now a restaurant (right on the railway line!) so you can sit in the café/restaurant and watch the comings & goings of people excitedly taking Peru Rail or Inca Rail to/from Machu Picchu. We stayed at Olly for 4 nights and loved it – there’s a large Inca ruin site in the middle of this small town (see photo). The actual station where you take the train to MP is just further along the platform – only 50 m or so.