Machu Picchu, Peru

It’s not easy to find a traveler, or anyone really, that hasn’t dreamed of visiting Machu Picchu. I had the pleasure of sharing my visit with my parents and Valerie. My father was not blessed with a strong ability to pronounce unfamiliar words, (in fact listening to his attempts is one of the greatest sources of laughter within my family). While people only get Machu Picchu we got to visit the very exclusive “Macho Pizza” and “Machupucho”.

Our journey started with a private taxi from Cusco through the Sacred Valley. Valerie and I almost always take the cheapest form of transportation, which in this case would have been a “combi” or shared 20 passenger van. With the folks in tow though the “luxury” was in full flow. Peru in February is incredibly green and I spent the entire ride glued to the window. We crossed a 14,000ft pass, setting a personal altitude record for both my parents, before descended into the valley itself. The snow capped peaked that loomed above us seemed very out of place in such a lush green environment.

As we do very little traveling by train in the United State we always love a journey by rail. There are no roads into Machu Picchu so the options are either to walk, which can take up to five days, or take a train. Ours was the semi-luxurious vistadome. We sat across from a genial family from Portugal and my father, being the social butterfly that he is, told them all about our good times in Lisbon and Oporto. We ate quinoa pastries and chica morada and watched the waterfalls go by.

Aguas Calientes, the town just below Machu Picchu where most visitors spend the night, is a booming little tourist town. With a guaranteed flow of over a million people per year it isn’t the most authentic Peruvian experience but it is also not without it’s charms and we were able to find good food and accommodations without trouble.

The day of our actual visit to Machu Picchu the weather was not very cooperative, which is typical of the month that we visited. While we caught glimpses of the site as we walked to the sun gate it wasn’t really until we were at the guard tower that we got the full reveal. It was worth the wait. For me the most impressive part of all of it is the lush, jungle-like setting and the near vertical limestone walls that surround the place. To think that people built all of this in such an extreme environment is beyond impressive.

We ate a good lunch of tortillas, salami, cheese and mayo and before I knew it my father and Valerie were off to a deep slumber, probably the most impressive napping spot of their lives. Enjoy the photos 🙂

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Scott Dusek is a writer and photography originally from Seattle, Washingon.

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