South America

Visiting and exploring Machu Picchu in one day

Peaceful night, at last! Some noise of the trains passing, but considering that the hostel is IN the train station I think that’s kind of expected, but even that didn’t disturbed me much. For the record, the hostel’s name is El Albergue and I recommend it! Really cool accommodation and certainly the best place to be when you need to wake up early to take a train to Machu Picchu!

From Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes by train

Starting the day really early, I think the train was around 6am, and my belly starting to give unpleasant signs…., first “discharge” of the day… But well, with some extra space, a proper breakfast was the best thing to fill the blank! And with a special companion, a very cool cat that was all the time begging for fondling!

Inca Rail Train in Ollantaytambo
Inca Rail Train in Ollantaytambo

And my belly again…, starting with a chemical war…, totally like rotten eggs… TMI? So wait for it… Time to board, a 2 hours long to Machu Picchu while my belly was urging to have full attention, once in a while I had to walk a bit far away from other people… seriously, not funny! The worst was when I had to go, again, to the toilet…, damn!!!!!! WHY IN THIS DAY??? Yeah! That’s right…, diarrhea!!! Machu Picchu day, the highlight of the whole trip, that day that all of us were looking forward…, and the day that my belly and ass decided to betray me!! You can’t imagine how I panic with that! WHY IN THIS DAY???

Ok…, relax…, maybe it was just another discharge, better now than later…, let’s go to the hostel, check in and leave our luggage there! Machu Picchu is waiting for us!!! Ah, wait…, I had to go to the toilet again!!!!! Oh, this was nasty…, and disgusting… I asked where the bathroom is, and they receptionist directed me to a room in the floor above, the bathroom window was to the hostel’s hall, but the floor above… And it started again! Sounds, smelly waves of not-so-fresh air…, and people laughing… What? Wait? What?? Tajana and Ramón could hear me like if they were next to me, even though they were in the hall (floor bellow), and when they talked I really thought they were next to me in the room! Ok, hopefully that won’t be our room… Then I looked to my side and…, no toilet paper! Can it get worst than that???

A few kilo lighter, perfect for a trekking day! We headed to the bus terminal to Machu Picchu Archeological Site! A side note, Machu Picchu Pueblo, former Aguas Calientes, doesn’t have cars, they way to reach the town is by train or trekking…, that’s why the train tickets should be booked months in advance, the buses just do the route Machu Picchu Pueblo <-> Archeological Site.

We had two options, walking up-mountain, or bus…, we decided that we didn’t want to get tired before the main highlight, so we went by bus,  a few minutes later we totally regretted it! The view is SOOOOOO amazing! And doing that by bus, so fast, it’s almost a sin! At least that was relaxing, after the moment we boarded into the bus and that I realized that I didn’t know where the Machu Picchu tickets were!!!!!! Seriously, I think I had several heart attacks during that morning! I found them, they were safe, and we did it!


I believe I wrote this before in another post, but in Peru they try to sell every single thing! It is really annoying! And guess what? A lot of guides trying to make us hire them for the day, or just a few hours! One of them even offered a “one hour guide tour” since we had the tickets to the Huayna Picchu part, we refused it, obviously.

Visiting and exploring Machu Picchu in one day
Visiting and exploring Machu Picchu in one day

Getting in to the Archeological Site, running across the ruins to the Huayna Picchu entrance and starting one of the three hardest hours of the whole trip! Another side note, Huayna Picchu is part of Machu Picchu archeological site, but they sell tickets apart to limit the quantity of people per day to the mountain. 400 a day and the last entrance is around 11am. The reason for this is obvious when you get there, it is a hard trekking, dangerous and slippery. Also, people might get lost there, or too tired that they even can’t return, therefore they close it at 1pm.

In my opinion, that was the highlight of the whole trip. Machu Picchu itself is amazing and worth to visit, but Huayna Picchu…., breathtaking! A photographer’s paradise! One of the most amazing views I had ever seen, after we did it we were tired like hell, but happier than ever! If you can, go to Huayna Picchu and prepare yourself for a very challenging trekking and equally rewarding one!

Do not travel without Travel Insurance!

I highly recommend World Nomads, travel insurance oriented to travelers. Well detailed before the unexpected happens!

What I am going to write next might contradict what I wrote before, but we saw shoeless people, kids (who bring kids to such slippery place, with amazing scarps??) and even people with already some age, obviously in very good shape as well 🙂 I lost the count of how many photos I took that day (but I’ll get to know the number as soon as I organize my aperture library), but it is really hard not to think about catching every single view and moment of that day!

We did it to the very top passing through a very small tunnel! And at the very top… BUGS! Damn bugs, I kind of freaked out with them and I really didn’t enjoy any moment there, I didn’t even took time to breath that view, so I run away to a few meters down…, and I was left alone! I waited…, I called them…, and no sign of Tajana and Ramón. Where were they? I had to climb those few meters that I run down again, and there they were! Enjoying their lunch and not caring at all if I was ok or not! Bastards!

Classical view of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu
Classical view of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu

The trekking has two paths, the “big one” through Wayna Picchu (the big mountain) and the other one smaller which I don’t remember nor I can find the name (after checking the photos, I found it, the name is Huchuy Picchu), Huayna Picchu is the name of both parts, I think. And Wayna Picchu itself also has two ways, the bigger one and the one just to and back from the top. We did the bigger one, to the Gran Caverna, if I can recall, they estimated 40 minutes to the cave from the top, and 1h20 from the cave to the exit…, and yes, it is pretty accurate! We thought not..

But to get there, we had to jump a fence that the security guy put there to avoid more people to go to the long path, he kind of argued with us but he lost all the arguments when we told him that we just saw him let other people pass…, we did it! 40 minutes walking down, and it is hard! Your legs literally start shaking and you barely can control them when you stop. Through that path, we even had to go over wooden stairs, and climb some as well, always down…, and we knew we were going lower than the exit way, which means… we had to climb again….

We did it to the Gran Caverna and we had to (re)start the climbing again…, we were really exhausted and kind of frustrated, we though we were in better shape…, and actually we were, just not for that altitude, which makes life way harder! We did it to the end, and within the estimated time. It was definitely my biggest challenge (and accomplishment) ever! 3 hours hiking/trekking at 2400m high and with diarrhea! I did it, and I finished it with clean underwear, if you know what I mean 😡

Then a 45 minute relax, eating cookies as a lunch, Ramón even took a nap! How great is that, on a 7 wonder? We walked around the ruins for a while, but both quit quite early, I stayed longer and I went to the very top, to take a photo to the most known perspective. I walked alone for a while, trying to enjoy that 7 wonder…, but after Huayna Picchu it is really hard, I wish I had two days for Machu Picchu, I would enjoy it properly, nowadays it seems that it was just a dream and that I never been there…

Llamas in Machu Picchu
Llamas in Machu Picchu

The day was almost over, or at least our bodies were…, I actually left the site way before than I thought I would, I wished to see the sunset from there…, but yeah, it was really exhausting, one day wasn’t enough for the whole area… Back to the main entrance to meet with Tajana and Ramón, and back to the town by bus, where Tajana met another american guy with another amazing story…

Arriving back to Machu Picchu Pueblo, I had to buy a t-shirt, I miscounted the t-shirts to take with me to Machu Picchu so I was one t-shirt shorter…, well, I didn’t miscounted, I just thought I could reuse one…, like if after a trekking a t-shirt would be usable again…, newbie…, after that the hot shower and a dinner out. Around 8pm we went back to sleep, we were all dead…

By Gil Sousa

Portuguese expat in Cork, traveler and food enthusiastic.

2 replies on “Visiting and exploring Machu Picchu in one day”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.