Back Door Machu Picchu


There are two very popular ways to get to MP. On the train and on the Inca Trail. Both are obscenely expensive. However, there is also a third way. Suitable for those with a taste for adventure, a tight budget or a penchant for the weird and akward.
I began with a scenic cycle tour of the sacred valley with Mike. We whizzed by the various fortresses on the outskirts of Cusco and arrived for lunch in Pisac. In the afternoon we hiked up to see the terrific hilltop forts there. The next day we cycled to Ollataytambo where there are some more Inca Ruins. From here Mike headed back to Cusco and I headed on alone up to Abra Malaga, a 4316m pass. The views were amazing on the way up but then I hit a band of fog that sat on the hill. Soon after beginning my decsent down the otherside the stunning scenery reappeared.
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At dusk I arrived in Santa Maria, a small dusty town, and started looking for somewhere to stay. But before I could find my bearings, a lady swept me and my bike up onto a minivan to Santa Teresa. There I found a hostal without electricity and went to bed with a candle.
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I was dissappointed to discover that it is not possible to cycle "up to the front door" of Machu Picchu. But the alternative was good fun. First I had to get to the river Urabamba and cross it on "La Arboya" a basket on pulleys hanging off a cable. This was the stumbling block for the bike as the basket was too small. Then a 40min hike to the Hydro-electrico and another 2hrs along a railway line, with a roaring river and towering forested mountians, to Aguas Calientes. One you get to Aguas you back with the grockles. The next day, at sparrows fart, I hiked up to the front gate and spent the next few hours getting lost in the fog. But when it lifted...
Machu Picchu has to be seen to be believed.

I wrote this post during my bike trip in South America in 2010.
I now offer guided walks and walking holidays in the UK in Northumberland, the Pennines, the Lake District, Scotland and further afield.

I'm always keen for outdoor adventures to help people learn the skills to explore! My particular focus is mountain skills such as navigating with a map and compass and wild camping for expeditions.

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  1. I'm busing/walking this on Wednesday! Not looking forward to the basket over the river part...

  2. that's a very good picture of you in the ruins at Ollantaytambo.. who took that? ;-)


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