Peru Part 4: Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
After leaving the Inkaterra Urubamba Hacienda we travelled by taxi back to Ollantaytambo to catch the train to Machu Picchu. The train station in Ollantaytambo is charmingly old-fashioned and the cafe on the platform serves an excellent cup of coffee. It was busy in the cafe so we shared a table with an older Canadian gentleman with an excellent handle bar moustache, who shared a giant bag of Peruvian gooseberries with us. Once on the train the landscape changes from arable fields and purple snow topped mountains to the incredible green domed mountains so characteristic of Machu Picchu.
There are three ways to get to Machu Picchu, you can trek the Inca Trail which is a four day hike through the mountains, you can take the train which is what we did, or you can get a minibus to the hydroelectric station and then walk along the train tracks into town, which is the cheapest option. The town of Aquas Calientes is most people's final stop before reaching Machu Picchu. It is a small town in the mountains with a hot spring, which it is named after. It sounds quite nice on paper but in reality it's a total tourist trap. The buildings seem to have been thrown up with no consideration to design and there is scaffolding everywhere. It had started rained when we arrived, but the moment we stepped off the train the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel staff were there to meet us with umbrellas and to take our bags. As soon as you step onto the grounds of Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel you you are enveloped by dense jungle and an immediate sense of calm. It is such a perfect oasis away from the noise and hubbub of the main town. Inkaterra own 12 acres of unspoilt cloud forest, and the hotel is nestled right into the jungle. The hotel is made up of 83 traditional white adobe casitas and several main buildings, including a beautiful dining room. The rooms are simple and cosy, and you feel incredibly close to nature at all times. Just wondering around the casitas you can spot beautiful wild birds gliding between the trees.
I was given a tour of the grounds and then popped over to the main building for teatime, including teas grown right there in the hotel grounds. After that my husband and I decided to explore a bit and walk along the path into the cloud forest. Walking deeper and deeper into the jungle, marvelling at the wild orchids and humming birds everywhere, was such an incredible and unique experience. The hotel run a number of excursions in the cloud forest, with a focus on wildlife and conservation.
After our walk and a freshen up in our casita we made our way over to the dining room, where we had the best culinary experience of the whole time in Peru. My husband had an incredible tiradito, a traditional Peruvian dish of raw fish, and I had a traditional Amazonian river fish, washed down with a couple of Pisco sours. After that we got an early night so that we would be up bright and early for our trip up to Machu Picchu in the morning.
Fortunately the hotel serves breakfast from 5 am, which meant we could fill up with a delicious buffet breakfast before joining the queue for the bus. Even at 5:30 in the morning there was a long queue for the bus. The bus is about £20 each return and they are quite picky about what kind of debit card you can pay with, so I would recommend paying in cash. You can walk up, but it takes several hours so if you want to make most of your time I recommend just getting the bus. The bus takes you on an incredible journey winding up through the mountains, zig-zagging higher and higher until you reach the top. Once we got to the main gate we joined the queue with our tickets and passports ready. Fortunately the security guards didn’t notice that my husband had gotten my date of birth wrong when he booked our tickets, making me 117 years old.
We briefly joined the crowds taking obligatory Machu Picchu selfies and then made our way up to the Sun Gate. This was my favourite experience at Machu Picchu. The morning light was incredible as we walked up into the mountains to the Sun Gate, and at this point the trail was very quiet. The view was incredible from the top, and for people hiking the Inca Trail this is their first view of Machu Picchu.
You can’t bring your own food into Machu Picchu, so we had to go back out the main gate to buy food and drinks. You are allowed to enter through the gate three times in a day. As you would expect everything is a bit overpriced, and you even have to pay to use the toilets. We bought a couple of empanadas for lunch then headed back in. The citadel itself is amazing, but for the most part you can’t just roam freely, you need to walk round in a particular route following the many tour groups. One of my favourite parts was breaking away from the crowds managing to capture some shots of llamas looking dramatic against the magnificent backdrop as the mist started to descend.
At some point we got back on the main trail and realised everyone was heading towards the exit. The security guards wouldn’t let us turn back so we were herded out. We debated queueing up to get back in the main entrance again but it just started raining, so my husband and I decided to get the bus back into town for a coffee and some food before catching our train. We went back to Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel for coffees and they had our bags all ready for us, having stored them for us during the day. We had a a last moment soaking up the atmosphere of the hotel and the beauty of the cloud forest before catching a train to Cusco.
We stayed at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel free of charge, but all views and opinions ate my own. Thank you so much to Inkaterra for having us, we had an amazing stay.