The bus to Machu Picchu starts at 5:30 am, we got to the bus station at 5:20 am and were shocked to see the line for the bus was already half a mile long and this was the low season! Good things they got over a dozen buses ready to go at 5:30 am. We boarded around 5:50 am and arrived at Machu Picchu probably around 6:20 am.
After getting off the bus, Dave saw this girl who was asking if we need a guide, her English sounded pretty good, she asked for 60 USD for a 2 hours tour, we were a little hesitant since it only cost 60 Soles (less than $18) at Saqsaywaman for a 1-hour tour, so she lowered the price to $50, we said OK. She said you may want to use the bathroom now, since there is no bathroom inside. So we waited in line for the tiny bathroom. By the time we were done and found her again, she introduced us to her husband who would be our guide. His English was clearly not as good as hers, so she pulled a bait and switch on us. Anyway he wasn't bad, still better than having no guide at all. He explained a lot of things, answered a lot of questions, and took photos for us for 2 hours. He also told us: "since today is Sunday, it is a free day for local Cusco people to visit Machu Picchu, the line for the bus to go down could be longer than usual, make sure you get to the bus station 2+ hours ahead of your train departs".
5. Temple of Sun.
7. The Main Temple.
8. Temple of the three windows.
10. Intihuatana (The Hitching Post of the Sun).
14. Ceremonial Rock. Supposedly it looks like the mountain behind.
16. Free workers (keep the grass cut) of Machu Picchu :)
17. Temple of the Condor.
18. Our tour ended here. The guide told us to get the classic Machu Picchu picture, we needed to climb to the Guardhouse up there.
So in our free time, we hiked the Machu Picchu Mountain for a little bit, and then the Inka Bridge, before hanging around the Guardhouse for a long time.
21. View from Machu Picchu Mountain. We only hiked 20 - 30 minutes one way. It was a steep climb. To hike to the top, you need 1.5 - 2 hours one way.
22. Came down from Machu Picchu Mountain, going to Inka Bridge.
23. Inka Bridge.
24. Inka Bridge.
After spending 6 hours at Machu Picchu, we finally left around 12:30 pm. I had bought the buffet lunch ($35 PP online with the Vistadome train ticket, $40 at the door) at Belmond Sanctuary Lodge earlier, it was really good. They had Peruvian corn, tasty chicken, lamb and even ceviche I liked.
31. While waiting for the bus to go down the mountain, guess what I did :)
After we came back to Aguas Calientes, it started to rain. Gosh we really lucked out on the weather today. Except later on our way back to Poroy / Cusco, the train stopped in the middle of nowhere for a long time (30 minutes to an hour). The attendants finally told us that there was a landslide, they were trying to fix it as soon as possible, and if they couldn't fix it, they would call in buses to drive us to Cusco. We waited for another 30 minutes or so, the buses came. Later we were all dropped off at Cusco near San Francisco plaza 2 hours behind our scheduled train arrival.
(To be continued)